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Seminoe-Alcova Backcountry Byway

Seminoe Reservoir
The Seminoe-Alcova Backcountry Byway is 64 miles long between Sinclair on Interstate 80 and Alcova on Wyoming Highway 220. Driving time is around two hours, traveling at a leisurely pace. The byway is a combination of paved and graveled roads. The route is suitable for passenger cars and is generally passable from May to November. Rain or snow can make the unpaved portions of the road impassable any month of the year.

The byway segment beginning just north of Seminoe State Park and running through the Seminoe Mountains to the Miracle Mile is graveled, very steep, and quite washboarded. It is not recommended for motor homes or vehicles pulling trailers. There are no services along the byway until you reach Alcova. Make sure you have adequate fuel and a good spare tire. Take drinking water, food, and proper clothing–the weather can change suddenly. Developed campgrounds are located at the Dugway Recreation Area, at Red Hills in Seminoe State Park, and along the Miracle Mile. Camping is also permitted on BLM-administered public lands.

Seminoe Dam
Miners returning from the California gold rush and Buffalo Bill Cody were among the first travelers over the byway's route. Later on, ranchers traveled this road, making trips to Rawlins for supplies and a taste of civilization. With the building of Seminoe Dam and the upgrade of the road, fishermen and boaters began visiting the area. On your trip today, you might see a variety of wildlife in the area, including mule deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, golden and bald eagles, pelicans, and ferruginous hawks. You'll cross rugged mountains and the Miracle Mile, a blue-ribbon trout fishery of the North Platte River. There's a huge sand dune along the way, part of the Killpecker Sand Dunes, a dune field which reaches from western Wyoming into Nebraska.

early Seminoe miners

In 1868, three ill-fated miners registered the first mining claim in the Seminoe Mountains but none of them lived to work the claim. One of the three traveled up the North Platte River to Ft. Steele to register the claim. Later that day he was shot, in the words of a newspaper reporter, "just for luck." The Army sent a Lt. Young to inform the man's partners of his death. Lt. Young found them both dead, killed by Native Americans. While on the trip, Lt. Young found some gold and took it back to Ft. Steele. In 1871, Young led some other Army officials to the area where they found gold nuggets lying on the ground, covered with moss. The men formed a mining district and the gold rush began.

Pedro Mtns foreground, Ferris Mtns background
A freight and passenger line began operating between the mines and the railroad in 1871, paralleling part of this byway. By 1872, 1,000 miners had flocked to the area. The failure to strike it rich and increasing pressure from hostile Native Americans ended the initial mining period in the Seminoe Mining District in 1874. That year, Buffalo Bill led an army expedition through the area to recover stolen livestock and locate the Native Americans and force them back to their reservations. The expedition was unsuccessful in its quest.

big sand dune
Subsequent mining booms have come and gone. In addition to gold, miners found silver in the nearby Ferris Mountains, jade in the Seminoes, coal near the Dugway, soda in the soda lakes to the northwest, copper and iron near Rawlins, and more recently, oil and gas to the south and west. The latest exploration involves coalbed methane gas. Active hardrock mining claims still dot the area.brown bar