Car driving along highway through forest toward snowy mountains.

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

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

By Kristen Pope

“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.

Bicyclist photographs a roadkill deer on a smartphone. Photo credit: Adventure Scientists

Ride for Roadkill

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

By Birch Malotky

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

View inside a white bucket with several tiger salamanders and a ruler for scale. Photo credit: Cody Porter

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.

Hine's Emerald Dragonfly clings to a dried plant.

Crouching Scientist, Hidden Dragonfly

A researcher’s quest to protect an endangered dragonfly

By Amber Furness

I stand on a large, cement bridge on Interstate 355 over the Des Plaines River Valley in northern Illinois. Waves of air blow over me as vehicles whiz by.

two people on motorcycle ride past devils tower

Road Noise

Traffic sounds disturb wildlife far beyond the asphalt

By Kristen Pope

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

Watercolor and ink illustration of man surveying a desert landscape. By Claire Giordano

Ernie’s Road

The engineer behind a lonely desert highway

Text and images by Claire Giordano 

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 Utah's Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Paving Paradise to Put Up Parking Lots

Can Western cities grow without displacing their neighboring natural wonders?

By Aubin Douglas

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

Professor Pete Stahl, Ecosystem Science and Management and Director of the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center.

After the Road

How to restore sagebrush habitat on decommissioned roads

By Tessa Wittman

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

Driving Through Medicine Bow Forest at the beginning of a snow storm

Road Wager

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

By Nathan C. Martin

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 walking through grass with mountains in background.

Hikers and Wildlife Cross Paths

Researchers investigate non-motorized recreation’s ecological impacts

By Meghan Kent

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.

Mountain biker ascends gravel path into mountains.

Reclaimed Wildness

Riding Coal Basin’s closed mining roads

By Manasseh Franklin

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

Rocky Mountain Elk in the prairie, with a dirt road in the background

Intersecting Roads

The need to value and safeguard wildlife movements

Perspective From Corinna Riginos

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.