Today we decided to visit Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. The Native Americans don't like it called that because of the negative connotations so they call it Bear Lodge. We’re pretty close to the Wyoming/South Dakota border but it was a 90 mile drive one way. As we were driving we were thinking, “why didn’t we wait to do this on our way out of town?” Oh well, we were already on the road and it is pretty far off of Interstate 90. It’s a beautiful drive through rolling hills that looked like they had just been mowed. They hadn’t, it just looked that way. It kinda reminded me of the countryside in Kentucky but there were no buildings that hold all the whiskey barrels.
As soon as we turned off the highway we could see the tower off in the distance. There was a 1.3 mile trail that went completely around the tower and of course we wanted to do it. It was interesting to see the difference between the front and the back of the tower. There were also people climbing up. It's called a "crack climb" because they climb in the cracks. American Indians have regarded the Tower as a sacred site long before climbers found their way to the area. Recently, American Indian people have expressed concerns over recreational climbing at Devils Tower. Some think climbing on the Tower as a desecration to their sacred site. It appears to many American Indians that climbers and hikers do not respect their culture by the very act of climbing on or near the Tower.
A key element of the Climbing Management Plan is the June Voluntary Climbing Closure. The National Park Service has decided to advocate this closure in order to promote understanding and encourage respect for the culture of American Indian tribes who are closely affiliated with the Tower as a sacred site. June is a culturally significant time when many (not all) ceremonies traditionally occur. Although voluntary, this closure has been very successful - resulting in an 80% reduction in the number of climbers during June.
During June, the NPS asks climbers to voluntarily refrain from climbing on the Tower and hikers to voluntarily refrain from scrambling within the inside of the Tower Trail Loop.
Definitely not something I would do but it's still very impressive.
On our way out we were starving so we went looking for something to eat. We found a little cafe on the side of the highway so we stopped in. Rod had a buffalo burger and I had a bacon cheeseburger. Just can't bring myself to eat buffalo. We also each got a Devil's Tower Lager to go with it. Pretty tasty.
Rod kept himself entertained with a game that was on the table while waiting for our food
From there we took a scenic highway back to our campground. There are so many scenic highways here and we've managed to find several of them already. With the cold weather it's nice to just take a drive and enjoy the scenery and believe me, the scenery here is AMAZING! This drive went through Spearfish, Lead, and Deadwood. We saw some gorgeous waterfalls along the way and one we had to hike to see it. Boy, am I gonna be sore tomorrow...
Bridal Veil Falls (right on the side of the road)
It was a little bit of a hike to get to the next one
Spearfish Falls (it was worth the hike)
Tomorrow (if the weather cooperates) we're going to go see the "boys" on the mountain also known as Mt Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument. It will be a lot shorter drive than we did today.