A River Runs Through It – High Cold Desert

Sweetwater County in SW Wyoming is located in a high cold desert. The town of Green River is at an elevation slightly over 6100 feet above sea level. Moisture is quite limiting. Yet, thanks to the Green River that flows through both the county and town, wildlife abounds.

At this time of the year, most of the Green River is frozen over. But as temperatures warm, short narrow ribbons within the river are opening up. Here too, waterfowl are pushing the limits; moving as far north as open water permits.

Outside of the floodplain, the sparsely vegetated hills are covered with a thin layer of soil and rock. Sagebrush eeks out an existence. Contrast this to the Green River floodplain with trees, grasses, and wetland vegetation.

The floodplain of the Green River contains taller and more dense vegetation while the surrounding hills are considerably more barren, with a lot of exposed rock and thin soil. Sony a1 + 100-400mm lens @ 100mm, ISO 640 f/16, 1/500. ©Stanley Buman.
Common Goldeneyes fly up the Green River. Note that only part of the river is free of ice, allowing a place for the diving ducks to feed. Sony a1 + 100-400mm lens @ 135mm, ISO 400 f/6.3, 1/3200. ©Stanley Buman.

The river is a source of life in the desert. Not only does it sustain vegetation, but it is rich with aquatic life, feeding both birds and mammals.

This Common Goldeneye drake dove underwater and surfaced with a crayfish. After the drake repositioned the crayfish in its bill, it swallowed it whole. Sony a1 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 321mm, ISO 400 f/8, 1/2500. ©Stanley Buman.

Within the town of Green River is Stratton Myers Park. To the east is the Green River and to the north is a series of small wetlands. These wetlands are also slowly opening up as the ice melts along the shorelines. Dabbler ducks prefer these shallow wetlands to the deeper fast-flowing river.

This Cinnamon Teal pair was warming in the sun, waiting for the ice to melt again that had formed overnight in the shallow wetland. Sony a1 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560mm, ISO 800 f/8, 1/1000. ©Stanley Buman.

Life exists within the desert, even outside the floodplain. But along the Green River, life flourishes.

15 thoughts on “A River Runs Through It – High Cold Desert”

    1. It has been a good time. Although, we had a couple of snow days where I only left the house to scoop sidewalks. We had high winds and maybe 8+ inches of snow.

  1. Myron L Johnson

    It always amazes and fascinates me how the evolutionary process shaped the world as we know it today. The flora and fauna match up and as long as we two legged, upright, animals leave it alone, it does very well.

    Thanks for the pictures and narrative, they are always informative and enjoyable…

  2. Beautiful photos and interesting narration. Thanks, Stan, I always look forward to your posts!

  3. Hey Stan, as always, thanks for sharing your view of the world as you see it. You are getting quite good at it and I always look forward seeing where you have been. If life brings you out here by Kate and me, you have a place to stay and we’ll keep you fed!

  4. Patricia Eshleman

    So beautiful Stan! Thanks for sharing your adventures. I’ve never been there in winter\dpring. Such a different perspective!

    1. Hi Tricia. It does look different in the winter, especially this winter, with all of the snow they have received. Of course, due to all of the snow, there were a lot of places I couldn’t go.

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