The Flatlander's View

Northwest Wyoming’s deep state mole in Nebraska

By Steve Moseley
Posted 6/8/23

Park, Big Horn and Teton County folks have an undercover mole working to their economic benefit in eastern Nebraska.

I know this to be true because that mole is me, a seven-year Powell resident …

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The Flatlander's View

Northwest Wyoming’s deep state mole in Nebraska


Park, Big Horn and Teton County folks have an undercover mole working to their economic benefit in eastern Nebraska.

I know this to be true because that mole is me, a seven-year Powell resident who grudgingly returned to tall corn country a couple decades ago following seven years employment at this newspaper.

In those 20 years I defied all odds by faking my way all the way to retirement as managing editor — with an emphasis on sports and photography — at the daily York News-Times. I lingered a few years as a hired gun for the News-Times, filling in where needed, until recently when, at 73, I called it quits on what was from the start an unlikely journalism career.

But what to do twixt now and the Dark Knight’s inevitable appearance?

I’ve always been an amateur distributer of BS, why not monetize it and go pro? You see there was this job opening I heard about for a knowledgeable Nebraska tour guide in the visitor center at the York westbound I-80 rest stop.

I should be qualified. I’ve lived in seven Nebraska communities west of York and recreated for a near-lifetime in that part of the state.

So why not give it a shot? I did and now work two, sometimes three, days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. greeting travelers and offering an old Nebraskan’s insight to those who want it.

But then came an unexpected and intriguing enlightenment. Turns out some of the pop-in-to-potty visitors at our rest stop — the state’s busiest — are on the way to Yellowstone Country.

All of a sudden my former-local’s knowledge and unabashed passion for northwest Wyoming had value. A mission even. Always at least once, but more often two or three times per eight-hour shift, conversation with strangers reveals this to be their destination.

That’s when the Wyoming Mole reveals himself and offers to share his familiarity with Yellowstone, the Bighorns, the Beartooths, the badlands, Bighorn Canyon rec area, et al. The whole works from where to go, where to stay and where to acquire sustenance (are you still there Our Place and Proud Cut Saloon?) to how best to get to Yellowstone and, of equal importance, how to return home.

The importance of informed routing cannot be overstated yet remains a missing piece for most because they lack local knowledge, which is a big part of why I help friends, family and neighbors plan trips to northwest Wyoming every year.

My first question is always, “How are you getting there?” Too often I get a ‘whatever’ shrug in answer. So, we get out a Wyoming highway map and begin to explore options.

In a desperate hurry? Let’s go pedal-to-the-metal west on I-80 to Cheyenne, turn right to Casper and on to Cody via the Wind River Canyon, Thermopolis and Meeteetse. Or perhaps roll on north of Casper at break-neck interstate speed to Buffalo or Sheridan, then soak up the spectacular Bighorns before we ever lay eyes on Yellowstone.

Even better, jump off I-80 at Ogallala, Nebraska, and angle toward Scottsbluff, Nebraska, on the way to Torrington, Sheridan, up the east slope to Bear Creek Lodge then down Hwy 14A to Lovell, making sure to peer over the rail at Devils Canyon overlook and watch a few bighorn sheep, then on to Powell, Cody, Wapiti, Pahaska and the East Gate.

Quite a few folks I chat with are pre-booked to the South or West gates. To them I present post-Yellowstone options out the Northeast Gate to the Beartooth Highway, Red Lodge, Bear Creek (being sure to bet on a pig race) and back to Cody, or exit at the East Gate to Cody, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and cross the Bighorns from west to east.

The possibilities are endless in your neck of the woods. I wonder, do you properly appreciate that a true wonder of the world for the rest of the planet lies right over there behind that hill in your own backyard? I hope so.

So far travelers are soaking up what I have to offer, which comes accompanied by detailed maps of Yellowstone and the Bighorns, plus a Wyoming state highway map.

Just spoke with Carol this morning at the tourism office in Cheyenne, in fact. Carol promises more highway maps are soon on their way.

Does this betray my job, which is to help strangers spend an extra night or hour or buck or two in Nebraska? Nope. Quite the opposite.

One example: Two retired sisters traveling in a camper I spent some time with have by now spent an extra day and night in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, which they heretofore did not know existed. They visited a great local zoo where the survivor of two orphaned grizzly cubs rescued on the North Fork a few years back, now fully grown, happens to live a life of luxury. They have taken in Scotts Bluff National Monument and viewed the famous Chimney Rock landmark that guided settlers west.

The sisters ate a couple, three meals, paid someone for a camping spot and filled that big rig with Nebraska gas. Then it was on to Torrington where they did the same diagonally across Wyoming. Best of all they are assured a more exciting and diverse trip of a lifetime than they would otherwise have experienced.

Sisters? Happy.

Nebraska? Happy.

Wyoming? Happy.

Steve? Happy.

I love this stuff.