There’s not much to Hudson, Wyoming, anymore. A stonemason shop, a steakhouse (rumored to also be the first pizza joint in the state) that has been there since the mid-1900s and is run by a Yugoslavian family, and even a dodgy-looking “fine family dancing” establishment. A crumbling building from the Wild West days with fading advertisements for rooms and sheriffs.
For most people, Hudson is that annoying half-mile stretch of road where the speed limit goes from a loose 65 mph to a well-enforced 30. Or where we go to get our local, sustainably-raised beef from Wyoming Custom Meats. And you can’t see much from the road. Trailers. Dusty gas hills. Desert plains covered with little more than sage.
But the lonely highway and the fading Old West facade have their secrets, the little things they hide away from prying eyes. Hudson hides a century of mining, open hunting grounds, and, if you dig deep enough, a badlands playground.
Badlands are relatively rare geological features that appear when soft rock is worn away by wind and water, creating spectacular ravines and hoodoos of colors ranging from uranium green to sunset orange. To the Lakota, the features were Makhóšiča, bad land. To the French, they were les mauvaises terres à traverser, the bad lands to cross. Some are famous: Badlands National Park is a popular road trip destination on the way to or from the Black Hills of South Dakota. Hell’s Half Acre outside of Casper, WY, played host to Klendathu, the insectoid planet in Starship Troopers.
But often, badlands are abandoned, lost, places people pass by without stopping. Deserts devoid of water and life. In Hudson, the badlands are quiet, hidden-away nooks and crannies for skeet shooting, ATV racing and other adventures. They aren’t a closely-guarded secret as much as a forgotten pastime, but that doesn’t make them any less fascinating, burnt scars in a desolate high desert.
These quietly stunning features are a few miles off Highway 789 in Hudson, WY. Take Ohio Avenue (not always marked) south out of town. Note: once the pavement stops, roads may be impassable when wet.
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