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2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser Review - In Carbon County Wyoming

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A Wyoming Adventure
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

“They claim that a boxcar in Rawlins, A Denver and Rio Grande, Was picked up off the tracks and blowed to the east And beat the whole train to Cheyenne.” [Cowboy poet Baxter Black describing the winds in Wyoming]

In our never-ending effort to take you, our loyal readers, to places you’ve never been, to see things you’ve never seen and introduce you to the colorful people we encounter, we’re taking you this week to Carbon County, Wyoming. Much is happening there economically and it’s one of those places with an abundance of natural beauty and sites of cultural interest. But not many travelers spend time here.

Recruiters from Wyoming, where thousands of jobs are going unfilled, have been prospecting in Southeast Michigan and other places where jobs are dissipating faster than the people. They have been trying to lure engineers, laborers and anyone who wants to work to move west and fill some of those Wyoming jobs. Carbon County snagged my friend Mark about a year ago to be the County’s economic development guy. He loves Carbon County which covers nearly 8000 square miles, more than two of our eastern states - RI and DE.

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Our friends at Toyota provided the new mid-size off-road-capable FJ Cruiser for this exploration. Based on a shortened version (11-inches shorter over all and 4-inch shorter wheel-base) of the tough and versatile 4Runner platform, the FJ Cruiser comes in rear or 4-wheel-drive and is Toyota’s challenge to the Jeeps and Hummers of the world. FJ, we think, might be as competent as the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. You may recall we tested the Wrangler on the rocky trails of the Mojave last fall. We’ll try to make a comparison.

Our FJ tester is a silver, 4-wheel-drive with optional six-speed manual transmission. We have a low-range transfer case for serious off-roading. Our competitors over at call the FJ “a more imaginative and sophisticated Wrangler.” So far I agree.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser starts at a very reasonable $22,110 for the rear-wheel-drive version. Our nicely dressed 4-wheel-drive, six-speed stick would, I expect, sticker out around tad 30-grand. Toyota builds about 46,000 FJs/year with about 90% being 4-wheel-drive.

I arrived in Rawlins, Wyoming to meet up with Mark later than expected but just in time to sample the nightlife, that is, dinner at the over-decorated Sanford’s Restaurant and then a few games of pool at the friendly tavern right around the corner called the Rifleman Club. Just stick a quarter in one of the four tables – well, maybe not the one that is jammed – and play to your heart’s content, or until they throw you out at closing time.

The silver FJ Cruiser looks pretty cool parked at the curb. Based on the old FJ 40 Land Cruiser it’s one of those unique retro designs that is polarizing. Some love it (like me) and some hate it. Any good designer will tell you that engendering controversy is one element that distinguishes a good design. Sure, it may be a bit cartoonesque, or too retro for some, but for me – and many others, I dare say – it’s just plain cool. The lateral protrusions from the front bumper look like little tusks and the simple round headlights compliment this “design with a sense of humor,” I’ll call it. But for me the designers at the Toyota Calty Design Center in California have done a wonderful job of taking a necessarily high-off-the-ground, boxy sport-utility vehicle and making it into something really fun to look at. Toyota has been making Jeepy things since at least the early fifties and this one imitates – or we should say updates – the design themes of the late fifties and sixties - a design as recognizable in much of the world as are the iconic old Land Rovers.

With our gear loaded and ready the more-than-adequate 27.9-cubic-feet of cargo area behind the rear seat looked almost empty. The full-size spare is mounted on the outside of the rear door making that rear door mighty heavy – too heavy for its struts if the truck is parked on any angle at all. When the rear seat is folded (it will go nearly flat) an impressive 66.8 cubic-feet becomes available. We have a 5,000 pound towing capacity but no boat or trailer this trip.

DAY ONE – Rawlins to Saratoga by Way of the Seminoe State Park

After some early morning photos at the eastern edge of the Red Desert on Highway 287 just northwest of Rawlins we headed back through town and then out north of Sinclair, a classic company town, originally known as Parko after the company that built the huge refinery there. In 1943, Sinclair Oil Company bought the refinery, and later the town was renamed Sinclair. The classic western architecture is preserved and has not been updated or exploited.

The road north toward Seminoe State Park is smooth and well-maintained. The FJ shows its excellent road manners. No jumpiness, or harshness, or squirminess intrudes on our 65-mph cruise through colorful rocky ridges, then along the swiftly-flowing North Platte River and finally about 25 miles of rolling high desert grasslands with many a bovine grazing nearby. Pronghorn antelope watched cautiously as we sped by ready to bound off at high speed if we slow to have a better look at them.

Getting acclimated to the inside of the FJ is a pleasant experience. The controls were designed so that the driver can manipulate them even while wearing work gloves. Toyota calls the inside design “tool-like simplicity.” I agree about the simplicity part but I’m not sure about the tool reference. I think it has way more style and aesthetic appeal than a mere tool. In terms of safety equipment the side and curtain air bags are optional. The driver’s seat adjusts 8 ways and the passenger has 4 functions.

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The Seminoe State Park has to be a Mecca for campers and boaters, though it must be a bit of a secret. Perhaps the two dozen campers there might not want me telling you about it but here we are on Friday of 4th of July week with only few folks taking advantage of this beautiful camping spot on a vivid blue reservoir. We see only two boats on the huge lake with a couple more parked at the shore. The lake is sparkling and large enough for water skiing, you can pick your own camping area since there aren’t really designated sites. The surrounding scenery is spectacular.

Continuing north we pass the Seminoe dam and find ourselves at what’s known as the “Miracle Mile,” a six-mile stretch of the North Platte considered among the best “blue-ribbon” trout fishing in the country – perhaps the world. Camping here, too, is open and unstructured, as well as way underused. A few local outfitters and guides conduct adventures out here.

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By this point the road had become narrow, rough and tumble as it swayed across more open high desert with intermittent verdant grassy sections where water is able to collect a bit. A few ranches, hundreds of antelope, prairie dogs, and lots of black cattle searching for nonexistent shade punctuated our 45-minute trek eastward back to the main road, Highway 487, where we turned south headed for the famous town of Medicine Bow on the great Lincoln Highway.

I’m saddened to say that there isn’t much left of the village of Medicine Bow or the great Lincoln Highway, the first paved road to cross the US from New York to San Francisco, opened to traffic in 1913. This original mother road passes right through Medicine Bow and near the town of Hanna, communities that are dying slow deaths because Interstate 80 passed miles to the south, supplanting that ribbon of once vibrant culture with a double ribbon of colorless culture.

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Like the more popular Route 66, intermittent features of the old culture still pop up along the roadsides and in the small towns, but very few survive. Two rustic bars - one in an antique hotel - and an interesting little museum still draw a few folks to Medicine Bow. We had a cold beer first at the old Virginian Hotel, where one can still get a room (really cheap) furnished and decorated in what appears to be the original trappings – what you would see in an antique store today. Across the street a museum of only four rooms does a wonderful job of telling the town’s story. Then we had another cold one down the street with Bill Bennett, an accomplished wood carver who now owns the old Dip (short for diplodocus in honor of the fossil digs nearby) Bar which features a 42-foot-long, 4 ˝-ton jade bar top along with the art pieces painted on the ceilings by the shy Mr. Bennett himself.

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A few miles down the road we explored the remains of an old roadside motel, “The Ghost Motel,” as Mark calls it, just east of Hanna. Half buried in the grass sits the recognizable carcass of an old Corvan within which a large bird was making its nest. The boarded up buildings quietly await a visionary new owner who will bring it back to glory – or raze it and use the 150 acres upon which it sits for another purpose. All could be had for a bargain.

We turned back south at Medicine Bow to pass the site of part of Carbon County’s economic strength today – veins of high-quality, low-sulfur coal. A move is afoot to bring a $2-billion “coal-to-liquid” processing facility here to produce low-sulfur diesel, naphtha, and perhaps jet fuel from this huge coal deposit. The first of its kind in North American, this facility would cause another energy boom that might dwarf earlier mining and energy booms in this area. We’ll be following that story for our readers.

We arrived at our first night’s destination, the Saratoga Inn, in – you guessed it – Saratoga. After freshening up we had a genteel dinner at the inn’s restaurant to the background of classical music played on a flute and trombone – an instrumental combination, I’ll admit, I’ve not experienced before. Pot roast was on the menu and it was quite good. Mark had the little filet steak which was good as well. Just beware, though, the “award-winning” green chili which I just had to taste. It’s hot enough to engender an immediate gustatory sweat. Intensely flavorful, but it would surely be too incendiary for many tastes.

After dinner we walked down to the bar at the Hotel Wolf where we met up with some of Mark’s pals. The tiny bar in this old hotel was hopping on this Friday night. Jim Elliot, an energetic and personable octogenarian lawyer proudly touted the new multi-million dollar community center, on whose board he sits – a mighty big project for this little town of barely more than 1,700 souls. It puts them in a position to market themselves for conventions of 300 people or more, he says. Ol’ Jim seems to know everyone in the place and all the women come over for a big hug or two.

A jovial young artist, nearly hyperactive transplanted Chicagoan, Kevin O’Brien, entertained us with some local gossip and stories of his conversion to becoming a Wyoming kind of guy. Fashionably shave-headed and obviously ambitious, he still spends time in Chicago with art and business interests there but his heart is obviously here in the west. Later Kevin led us across the street to the loud and jam-packed Lazy River Cantina where he took more than a year to paint murals on just about every wall in the bar. We could barely move through to the back room where a rock-and-roll band was keeping the crowd stirred up. A few doors down live music was pouring out of the Rustic Bar as well. The nightlife in this little place, at least on a Friday night, is amazing.

DAY TWO – Saratoga to Riverside Through the Snowy Range

Our goal for day two was to test the off-road capabilities of this FJ Cruiser but we didn’t get away until the afternoon.

Our morning was spent hanging out in Saratoga. After early gourmet coffee at Lollypop’s where locals and a few visitors were beginning to gather we had a tour of the Saratoga Inn with our host John Swynarczuk, the friendly and dapper day manager. The Saratoga Inn is owned by a Denver-based land and cattle company (sort of western version of a business conglomerate) but it retains the charm and rustic quality it has had for many years. In addition to the hot springs pools, both open-air and within little privacy tents, another building is dedicated to spa treatments. A golf course surrounds the resort and the rushing North Platte River runs right along its edge calling to fly fishermen.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the Warm Springs Café where we copped the prime corner table with the big windows looking up and down the North Platte River so closely that if the glass wasn’t in the way we could have cast a line and caught our own breakfast. Then art was on our agenda as we stopped by the gallery co-owned by the afore-mentioned Kevin O’Brian who was hard at a new painting in his work space within the gallery. He showed us around. I was particularly fond of some wonderful digital photography of southern Wyoming subjects. A couple blocks away the town was hosting an invitational art and craft show with some amazingly high-quality works. Like many western communities art is an integral part of the culture.

Finally we headed south on US 130 for a few miles where the road turns sharply east into the Snowy Range. We stopped at the National Forrest welcome shack where volunteers, Wave and her husband Leonard, browsed the maps with us. Leonard, who Wave claims knows the park like the back of his hand, suggested Road 234, just past Ryan Park, to Phantom Lake to test the FJ. Sounds like just what we’re after.

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Whoever called this a road needs some lessons in semantics. It started out looking like a road then quickly got bumpy and rocky as it crossed both Brush Creek and Little Brush Creek where it deteriorated rapidly into a real challenge. Yes, indeed, that is just what we were after. Leonard was right. Big water-filled holes in the path made for some great photo ops and diving through ditches half the depth of the Toyota required us to access both low-range first-gear and the Toyota’s three underbelly skid plates. The FJ Cruiser is blessed with capability for a 34-degree approach angle, 30-degree departure angle, 27.4-degree breakover angle and 9.6-inches of ground clearance. This path to Phantom Lake was tough enough to use it all. FJ’s 17-inch, 70-series rough-terrain tires work will with the long suspension travel to eased the way across the rocks.

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We bounced, and jounced and clawed our way more than an hour up into the mountain and finally, after a tad more than six miles, we came upon one of those scenes that will surely stick in our minds forever – Phantom Lake. The quiet was striking – only the sound of the breeze in the tree-tops and a few buzzing flies. The colors around us could not have been more intense. Though the mosquitoes were a tad aggressive we were distracted only by thousands of pretty little iridescent blue dragonflies flitting around the shoreline landing on the coarse shore grass, the shallow-water rocks and each other – breeding season, I suppose. We shot stills and video of the scene while we soaked up the spiritual experience of being the only human beings within miles of one of the prettiest places imaginable. Certainly we – and now you - are among the few who ever get to visit this place.

With the day waning we had to struggle our way out (without automatic descent control which is not available in the FJ) in order to get to the top of the Snowy Mountain range and experience the huge, dramatic granite outcroppings that define this area of the county before we loose the day’s light. The FJ’s 4-liter, 239-hp V6 makes 278 lb.-ft. of torque and, while we never felt underpowered on the off-road trails, we occasionally feel a tad weak on the steep up-sloped mountain roads, at least until we downshift. FJ doesn’t have a lot of low-end grunt but once above 2,500 rpm it feels fine. Premium fuel is recommended to fill the 19-gallon tank and a 0-60 time of 7.8 seconds is claimed. We’re averaging an acceptable 17 to 18-mpg.

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Everyone gets to see this part of the Snowy Range where the Highway 130 passes close to the base of these nearly 2,000-foot-high bare rocks. The Snowy Range pass is at about 10,800-feet and Medicine Bow Peak is at 12,100. Large patches of snow still cling to the mountain sides up here, even in mid-summer.

Back down the mountain we made it with time to spare to our bed for night, a beautiful woodsy place that is the home of well-known Riverside, Wyoming artist RJ Finney. He and his bubbly brunette wife Lynne run one of the most popular B&Bs in this part of Wyoming, the Spirit West River Lodge, on the banks of the Encampment River where more “blue-ribbon” trout fishing awaits the avid angler. Catering to fishermen in the summer and snowmobilers in the winter they stay full year-around without advertising. Mark and I felt like new-found family the way they doted on us and drew us into their ‘extended’ family of regular guests.

We were lucky to get a room as there was only one to be had. Mark and I had to share. Fortunately there were two big beds. Unfortunately, I snore like a freight train, but Mark graciously pooh-poohed my apologies. The comfortable, warmly decorated wide room appears to have been designed and executed by the resident artist who is also an accomplished handyman. RJ’s art, of course, adorned the walls. From our room we stepped right out onto the deck which extends the length of the house and the other guest rooms facing the river. What a lovely spot.

The Mangy Moose in Riverside, the dusty old cowboy bar that was our dinner spot, needs description. The burgers were fat and fresh and the beer mighty cold. The clientele was mixed between locals and visitors (mostly from the B&B), easily distinguished from one another. Someone brought a friendly big dog that everyone seemed to know. He went from table to table soaking up attention and perhaps a few snacks. We waited in anticipation as the popular Jimmy Chambers, a dusty old cowboy with a droopy mustache and gravelly voice - literally still knocking dust off himself from an all-day cattle drive - picked up his guitar and entertained with what I guess we could call cowboy blues. Like many old blues men Jimmy had to push hard to make his voice ring. What a treat.

DAY THREE – Riverside Back to Saratoga

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Breakfast was on the deck of the Spirit West River Lodge within a few feet of the babbling Encampment River in the cool morning air that smelled intensely of a fresh woodsy aroma I couldn’t quite identify. I was hoping for trout and eggs but settled for Lynne’s luscious biscuits and gravy, fresh melon and crispy fried potatoes.

Westward from Riverside, US 70 winds through the Sierra Madre Mountains, more of the Medicine Bow National Forest. We found one of the sites we were looking for – Battle Lake – where Thomas Edison got the idea for the filament for his electric light bulb . . . or so some say. Is it a myth or legend? Or is it true? There is some controversy about that.

The story goes something like this:

Edison was not feeling well, probably from working much too hard. A friend talked him into traveling from Michigan to this part of rural Wyoming for an eclipse party – a major travel undertaking in the late 1870s involving long train rides and bouncing buggies or stage coaches. He acquiesced and while here went fishing on Battle Lake with some of the revelers. While fishing with a bamboo pole he got to thinking – as he was wont to do – about the difficulties in coming up with a practical light bulb. He noticed the strands of fiber separating from his pole and in a flash of insight conceptualized the filament he was after.

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My feeling is that it matters not whether the idea for the filament was hatched here, or perhaps seeded here, or not. What matters is that he was here, fishing in Battle Lake and, with gracious permission from private landowners, we were able to walk the same ground and revel in the same quiet alpine lake beauty that once soothed and inspired one of the smartest men of the last two centuries. We were soothed, as Edison must have been, by the crisp, clean air, the splash of jumping trout and sight of snow still clinging to the slope above the deep blue lake.

It also matters that we had such fun getting there. We had another opportunity to test the off-road credentials of the FJ Cruiser. We had to creep down another rocky, rutted washed-out mountain ‘road’ to get to the closed gate beyond which we had to hike another mile or so in to the lake carrying our video and photo gear. Our limited turning radius would not allow us a shot at the final switchback near the base of the slope. The pioneers of the trail had incorporated a loop that allowed us, and I’m sure most others, to make a sweep to go down rather than that sharp turn. We were in four-wheel-low again and had to traverse three more rocky creeks to get to the gate. The poor FJ Cruiser was filthy by this time with no car wash in site.

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We disturbed a bald eagle (inadvertently, I assure you) on the trek from the lake back to the FJ. He must have been hanging out in a tree just above us. We four-wheeled our way back out of the Battle Lake Valley, up onto the main road again and headed west. A right turn at County Route 71 put us in the tree-tunnel known around here as “Aspen Alley.” A narrow dirt road passes tightly through a dense grove of aspen trees making for a remarkably memorable image – a perfect place to photograph the dirty FJ. At the far end of Aspen Alley is Aspen Alley Ranch in a meadow of white and yellow wildflowers. Across the road, sadly, is a grove of dead pines, victim of an infestation of a particularly tenacious bug that is having its way with many western pines – a looming crisis, some contend.

Back onto the main road, US 70, we wound our way out of the Sierra Madres into the lush Snake River Valley where a series of four little communities - Slater, Savery, Dixon and Baggs – share a colorful and jaded old-west history that is documented, demonstrated and exhibited in a remarkable museum complex of six buildings in Savery. The Little Snake River Museum has wonderful collections of artifacts, photos, restored buildings, tools, toys, quilts, documents, weapons, medical implements, clothing and other intriguing stuff. We could have spent all day there if we had the time. Don’t miss this one if you’re in the area.

The rodeo grounds in Dixon were full of horse trailers and cowfolks competing in and spectating one of the dozens of rodeos that go on around here all summer. Certainly a central focus of the Wyoming cowboy culture, one can find a rodeo somewhere in the area just about every weekend. Some communities, I’m told, host a rodeo every week.

Feeling the need for a few gratuitous carbs and a good hit of caffeine we stopped at the Drifter’s Inn in Baggs for a piece of pie and coffee. Billed as ‘homemade’ my pumpkin pie, warm with a good dollop of whipped cream on top, was just what the doctor ordered. Mark, on the other hand, opted for the peanut butter pie – a huge slice of what might be described as a softer version of my mothers ultra-rich peanut butter fudge. He could have hurt himself if he had eaten the whole thing. That’s one you’ll need to share.

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Our day wound down back in Saratoga at the historic Hotel Wolf, located right in the center of town. In another reference to the past, our second floor rooms were small but furnished and decorated in Victorian style. Saratoga was mighty quiet on this Sunday night in stark contrast to the raucous ambiance on Friday.

DAY FOUR – Saratoga to Rawlins to Elk Mountain

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A smooth gravel road, County Route 500, cuts a gentle swath through more grazing land due west out of Saratoga. More antelope, prairie dogs, cattle and one lone hawk marked the way. Once we turned north on Highway 71 toward Rawlins the road became much more heavily traveled and we encountered some mighty coarse chatter-bumps. Some of these were harsh enough to fluster even this tight Toyota FJ as it skittered a tad sideways and even caused an uncharacteristic thump in the driver’s side door.

We’ll use this final day for reflection and taking notes.

Every little town in the county has a museum, it seems. Heritage is important. Not just cowboys made history, but miners and explorers, and innovators and sportsmen and artists – you name it, defined this placed as well. The Carbon County Museum in Rawlins displays plenty of unusual stuff including a long, lanky American LaFrance fire truck from the nineteen-teens with extension ladders that appear to be long enough to reach the top of the water tower. An Essex race car with Lincoln Highway history is displayed with all its details. A Thomas Edison exhibit fills one room describing the abovementioned legend along with some of his inventions, correspondence and other stuff. In fact, the Carbon County Museum is one of the few facilities that have the official sanction of the Edison Foundation.

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While there are some elements of the wild west still in evidence, Carbon County has a sophisticated side as well. Our final night was spent under the expansive canopy of the massive cottonwood trees deeply rooted in the banks of the Medicine Bow River in two stylish rooms of the historic 12-room Elk Mountain Hotel, built in 1905. In the early days a pavilion drew folks from all around to dance and enjoy music provided by nationally known bands and entertainers. The walls are covered with autographed photos and posters from those days. The hotel is filled with antiques, art, and memorabilia. Best of all, though, it has been recently purchased and is run by a British couple, Arthur and Susan Prescott-Havers who have lived in may parts of the world and bring an international flavor to Elk Mountain. Susan, by the way, is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef. So expect good eats. I had the dinner special, pork tenderloin cooked delicately with a sweet cranberry sauce. Everyone raved about her blueberry bread pudding.

One of our fellow diners at the Elk Mountain Hotel, Murray, a Canadian logistics guy, is a Toyota loyalist and pays attention to all the new stuff. He offered another reason the FJ’s nearly vertical windshield is a problem beyond the dismal fuel mileage engendered by the brick-like aerodynamics. He says that the windshield orientation is particularly unforgiving as stones and gravel are flying when other vehicles are in front on a dirt road. His friend and colleague Bill chides him that if he weren’t always tailgating other traffic that wouldn’t be a problem. I decided not to get in the middle of that one.


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On the way back to the Denver airport to drop off the FJ, I stopped in to consult with John Schrader, a Toyota loyalist and serious off road guy whose shop is on US 287 on the northwest edge of Fort Collins. Schrader sells and services “vintage offroaders,” primarily old Toyotas, as well as being active with at least two local off road clubs. Of course, here at the foot of the Rockies off road opportunities are some of the best. I asked his opinion of the new FJ Cruiser.

He’s impressed with it. Certainly, he says, it has a specific market and it won’t do everything a well-equipped Rubicon can but for off road competence it’s great. Its limitations come only from the independent front suspension and the design of the engine and transmission/transaxle that don’t allow quite as much ground clearance in front. Of course, those are elements that make its on-road manners more tolerable.

If you, dear reader, are such a seriously competitive off-roader that you belong to clubs that challenge places like Moab, Utah and the Rubicon Trail you’ll probably go for the Jeep. But if you want the best balance between civilized road ability and mountain climbing prowess you won’t do better than the Toyota FJ Cruiser. I also like the little tilt gauge on the dash along with a good, sensitive compass. The rubber floor mats are great when you spend time playing in the dirt. My big camera didn’t slide around back there on the floor either. The rear cargo door struts could be a bit stronger. They wouldn’t hold the door with the heavy full-size spare wheel and tire even on a slight tilt. Though some have complained about blind spots because of the closed rear side panel, I found the outside rear view mirrors so good as to mitigate that blind-spot problem. And, the complaints of some reviewers about the cute, half-size, rear-hinged, rear passenger doors being restrictive is a bit overcritical, I think. It certainly is a big step up and into the less-than-roomy rear seat, but unless you regularly haul folks back there it would probably not be an issue.

So, let’s wrap this up. In just our few days in Carbon County we’ve explored two mountain ranges and at least three world-class trout streams, drank beer and discovered characters (including an old cowboy singer) at six great old rustic bars, 4-wheeled up the side of a mountain and down into an otherwise inaccessible mountain valley in our remarkably competent Toyota FJ, relaxed at two beautiful alpine lakes, scorched my uvula on the hottest green chili in Wyoming, overnighted at some amazing inns, met dozens of fascinating people, encountered thousands of pronghorn antelope and one solitary bald eagle, and learned all about Carbon County, Wyoming. That was a lot to pack in a few days.

Recreational opportunities in Carbon County, particularly of the outdoor variety, abound. Scenery is most dramatic. Culture and history are revered. And the people (with the exception of the surly young cop who wrote me a ticket in Rawlins) are nearly all charming and welcoming. Yes, the winters can be a bit harsh with winds so strong they’ve been known to topple railroad cars. And I suppose for some nearly the lowest population density in the country might be an off-putter. For me that’s a good thing.

One of the Rawlins promoters, long-time hotelier Dave Rader, tells the story of a young couple who had some car trouble while passing through the town on a Saturday morning. Parts could not be had until Monday but by then, after just spending the weekend, they were so in love with the place they were looking for a way to stay.

It would be easy to become enamored with the Carbon County way of life.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved


Carbon County Economic Development Corporation:

Carbon County visitors Council:

The Saratoga Inn:

Kevin O’Brien:

RG and Lynne Finney:

Elk Mountain Hotel:

John Schrader, Coyote Cruisers of Fort Collins:

Cowboy Poet, Baxter Black:

Hotel Wolf: