Driving into the northern Red Desert from Rock Springs, the first thing you notice are the vistas. In early June, the distant Wind River Mountains to the north still hold plenty of snow, a striking contrast with the vibrant green sage and the rolling golden swath of the Killpecker Sand Dunes in the foreground. The next thing you notice is the temperature. Although cool in the morning, the northern Red Desert in late spring can become hot by midday, necessitating thoughtful layering and plenty of sunscreen. Then, you start to take in the folks around you. Those who love the desert—whether on their first or fiftieth visit—are people worth getting to know.
Last Saturday, there were many answers to the question of who was motivated enough to join us in the quest to run 50, 23, or five kilometers through this expansive, rugged landscape. Run the Red—a young but gritty Wyoming trail race hosted by the Wyoming Outdoor Council and the National Outdoor Leadership School, among others—attracts some incredible runners, walkers, and desert enthusiasts.They are folks from the nearest towns, Rock Springs and Green River, but also from farther afield: Pinedale, Lander, and Casper. There are a few from Montana, and even one each from South Dakota and Nebraska. Many of them have never been to this part of Wyoming before, and are just as eager to explore on foot as you are. Some have sought out this race and have been training for weeks, while others were more spontaneous in their visit because it fit in with their training schedule or they were curious. Regardless of their reason for coming, before the end of the day, all of them will have a newfound appreciation for this place—and for their own abilities. Below are comments from some of this year’s runners:
“I must admit, that even though the course was extremely challenging and arduous for me, I felt a level of accomplishment that I had not experienced in a number of years of running upon finishing the run.”
“I love that the race is low-key and only has a t-shirt instead of a swag bag full of materials I need to later throw away. The location is fantastic and the organizers great.”
“My wife and I have participated in numerous races around the country, and we really enjoyed this one. The conservation/advocacy messaging that is part of the race is an excellent added bonus.”
In its fourth year, this race has gained popularity with local and regional trail runners. And with good reason: the incredible views, diverse opportunities for recreation, and close-ups of the Boar’s Tusk all combine to make Run the Red one of Wyoming’s best kept secrets. The Wyoming Outdoor Council has long been invested in making sure the most unique areas of the northern Red Desert look the same way for future generations as they do today. With the Bureau of Land Management set to continue work on its new land-use plan this fall, there is no time like the present to provide folks with new experiences in this landscape so they can have a shared appreciation of its value to our state and the need protect it. These public lands belong to all of us—runners, walkers, hikers, the dogs that play in the desert’s ponds, the kids who slide down the dunes, the ATV riders who fly across the sand. And know that when it’s time to speak up for how you want to see these lands managed, we’ll let you know. Until then, plan your race schedule to include Run the Red 2018 and pack your bags for a sand-dunes camping trip while the migratory birds are still there and the spadefoot toads are chorusing. Stay in touch and we’ll happily help plan your next Red Desert trip. Hope to see you out there!
For more photographs from this year’s race, check out our photo album, too.
Community Engagement Director