car driving down road with mountains behind

Editor’s Note

By Emilene Ostlind

“For many Americans, the open road best captures the essential character of the West—unfinished, open-ended, a marriage of the human psyche with the earth, sky, and highway.” —William Wyckoff, Geographer

road at dusk with mountains

Science of Road Ecology

By Kristen Pope

Researchers are changing the ways we see, think about, and manage our roadways

“People don’t really think about this impact that roads have because roads and cars are such an important part of our life in North America,” says Western Transportation Institute (WTI) senior research scientist Tony Clevenger.

person touching roadkill on road

Ride for Roadkill

By Birch Malotky

Montana cyclists are helping make the state’s roads safer for wildlife and people

Crowell Herrick, 63, rides his gravel bike down Montana Highway 1, wearing a high-vis vest.

salamanders

Amphibian Crossing

By Rhiannon Jakopak

Carrying salamanders across roadways helps local populations persist

On a rainy April night when temperatures peeked just above freezing, around 30 people spread out along a well-traveled street next to a city park in Laramie, Wyoming.

devils tower with motorists

Road Noise

By Kristen Pope

Traffic sounds disturb wildlife far beyond the asphalt

Leather-clad motorcyclists cruised around Devils Tower National Monument in August 2015

artwork of a person taking a photo of mountains

Ernie’s Road

Text and images by Claire Giordano 

The engineer behind a lonely desert highway

My mom tells stories of a magic road. It wound from a gleaming blue alpine lake to the desert below. It required no gas, didn’t wear out brakes, and had the most beautiful vistas. 

pelican swimming

Paving Paradise to Put Up Parking Lots

By Aubin Douglas

Can Western cities grow without displacing their neighboring natural wonders?

My first visit to the Great Salt Lake was a graduate course field trip to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. 

sagebrush drawing

After the Road

By Tessa Wittman

How to restore sagebrush habitat on decommissioned roads

In the natural gas fields of western Wyoming, innumerable dirt roads cut through the sagebrush steppe, connecting gas wells and carrying heavy equipment.

a road with pine trees on other side

Road Wager

By Nathan C. Martin

Agencies bet that hundreds of miles of temporary new roads can help a forest

The Medicine Bow National Forest is the most densely roaded forest in Wyoming. Interstate 80 borders it to the north, and winding byways bisect its major mountain ranges—the Sierra Madre and the Snowy Range.

pronghorn walks through pilot hill in Laramie Wyoming

Hikers and Wildlife Cross Paths

By Meghan Kent

Researchers investigate non-motorized recreation’s ecological impacts

Following his GPS, University of Wyoming field technician Michael Gjellum descends into a canyon between the folded foothills of Pilot Hill, keeping a careful eye out for mountain lion activity.

Manasseh Franklin on bike

Reclaimed Wildness

By Manasseh Franklin

Riding Coal Basin’s closed mining roads

While quietly pedaling a narrow, paved road near Redstone, Colorado, I rounded a corner and came face-to-face with a small black bear. 

elk

Intersecting Roads

Perspective From Corinna Riginos

The need to value and safeguard wildlife movements

Roads may well be humankind’s greatest source of metaphors, inspiration for a plethora of phrases about journeys and all the bumps, bends, twists, and turns along them.