Friday, September 4, 2009

Sinks Canyon State Park, The Popo Agie

You could see where the water was flowing out of the side of the hill. It flowed into a large pool and then over a sandbar into another and then another. Each pool was filled with huge wild trout, which fought over the food Renita was tossing down from above. Rainbows showed their red stripe as they rolled sideways fighting for the food with browns and cutthroats.
We were visiting Sinks Canyon State Park, located near Lander Wyoming. The park is famous as a place where the Popo Agie,(pronounced popogah), disappears into a sinkhole and then reappears downstream, a classic example of a disappearing stream or a lost river.
I had taught earth science and geology for 30 years and geomorphology was one of my favorite areas so when we retired I had a list of places I wanted to see and now another was being crossed off the list.
Sinks Canyon is a steep sided canyon that is also famous for its bighorn sheep, its climbing, and a loop road that climbs up to 10000 feet in elevation. The road connects several lakes and finally meets Wyoming 287 near Atlantic City and South Pass, a historic gold mining area.
Its a really beautiful area where the river cuts through the Madison Limestone, intersecting a rock unit called the Cave Member and hence the Karst topography, (landforms above cave regions named for an area in the former country of Yugoslovia).
All the caves in Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota are actually in this rock formation,(or most of them anyway).
We had lunch above the park and while Renita looked for rocks and took pictures I cast my fly rod actually missed a strike on a grasshopper imitator. A blue grouse posed for Renita, it must not have known grouse hunting season had just opened, but it was safe from us anyway.
We enjoyed our visit to the state park. There is another example of a lost river, near Nemo, South Dakota, that also disappears into the Madison and then reappears as a spring in Rapid City, but Sinks Canyon is a lot more dramatic. It was well worth the drive. Clear skies.

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