Sturgis, SD to Sundance, WY June 27, 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014 Happy 85th birthday, Mom! I hope your day is as special as you are. Love and hugs. Miss you and Dad.

We left today at 9:30. Thank goodness the skies were partly cloudy. After the storm last night, I didn’t know what to expect. We had such a lightning show during the storm. It was quite beautiful, but scary. (I packed a “ditch” bag with all our valuables just in case we had to leave the trailer and run for cover to one of the buildings.) The ride from Sturgis to Sundance was a short 58 miles, but it took us through the Bearlodge Mountains.

 
 
We were staying just outside of Sundance, WY tonight. The Sundance Kid was named after the town for getting caught stealing and spending 18 months in jail there. We chose this location because it was a short 28 miles to Devils Tower. We followed I-90 past the town of Spearfish, a beautiful red rock, green rolling hills area. We crossed the Wyoming state line just before the town of Beulah.

 
 
Near Beulah, the highway took us past the Vore Buffalo Jump. It is a natural sink hole that was used by the Indians as a bison trap from 1550-1800 AD. The Indians would stampede bison to their deaths by running them off the cliff into the hole. The layers of well-preserved bones make for a unique archeological site. I got a quick glimpse of it from the highway, but didn’t get a very good picture of it.

 
 
This was just sitting along the highway in the middle of nowhere. We saw it from a distance and couldn’t imagine why someone would put it there. There was no advertising on it or anything. What gives?

 
 
We arrived at the Mountain View Campground around 10:30.

 
 
They gave us site #47 on the upper level with a good view of the mountains across the valley and a mountain “in our backyard”.

 
 
We had a few sprinkles on our ride today, but it had stopped in time for us to set up. The day remained partly cloudy as we had lunch and took the drive to Devils Tower. We wanted to beat the afternoon storms that we seem to be having every day. The road wove in and out of the hills and finally put us on top of a ridge where we rode for quite awhile. The view from the ridge was awesome. We could see for miles in either direction.

 
 
Finally, we got our first sighting of Devils Tower in the distance.

 
 
Once we descended from the ridge, we had a fabulous view of Belle Fourche River Valley. The red soil against the green grass and trees was very dramatic looking.

 
 
 
 
Bob had never been to Devils Tower before and our excitement was building the closer we got. I got a special treat at the Ranger Station when I discovered that I could get my Senior Pass today. Once you turn 62, for $10 you can get a lifetime pass to any National Park, Forest, Monument that charges admission. It allows us to get into those areas for free. Woo-hoo!

 
 
On the road through the park to the Visitor’s Center, we came across this poor soul whose tire broke off of the axel. He dragged it down the road for awhile before he was able to stop. Oh my!

 
 
At the Visitor’s Center, we read the Indian legend that explained the marks on the tower. Some Kiowa children were being chased by a bear. To get away, they stood on a rock. The rock began to grow out of the ground. Trying to reach them, the bear raked the sides of the rock leaving deep furrows in the sides of the tower. I remember this story from when I visited here with my parents as a child. This photo depicts what happened.

 
 
The granite pillar is about 1000 feet in diameter at the base and 275 feet at the top. It stands 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River Valley and is actually 865 feet high. In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt designated Devils Tower as the nation’s first national monument. The rocks and boulders around the base of the tower are actually broken pieces of columns having fallen from the sides.

 
 
After checking out the Visitor’s Center we took the 1.3 mile tower hike around its base.

 
 
After the initial steep climb, the path was a leisurely hike with informational signs along the way. It was even more awesome up close.

 
 
This little red squirrel was making a lot of racket as we passed. I guess he didn’t like us invading his territory.

 
 
After awhile, we noticed some rock climbers making their descent.

 
 
There was an overlook that gave us a fabulous view of the valley below.

 
 
Around every bend, we got a different view of the tower.

 
 
Through one of the viewing scopes on the path, we could see this old wood ladder that was left hanging up on the tower many years ago from someone else’s climb. Can you see the thin white line in the crack on the left of the picture?

 
 
The sun finally peeked out and blue sky appeared. You could see for miles.

 
 
We met 2 nice ladies from California who agreed to take our picture if we took theirs. We don’t often get a picture together so we took them up on it.

 
 
As were about 3/4 of the way around the tower, it took on a different look.

 
 
After about an hour, we were back at the Visitor’s Center and had our final look at Devils Tower.

 
 
On our way out of the park, we came upon the man with the wheel problem. By now he was being towed away.

 
 
We had to make a stop at the Black-tailed Prairie Dog Town before leaving the park. This village of prairie dogs was very active and were not afraid of humans. They came right up to the car.

 
 
What cute little guys they are!

 
 
Outside of the park we saw a small herd of longhorn cattle grazing along the road. When we stopped to take a closer look, we saw that there were 2 buffalo mixed in with the herd.

 
 
Green Mountain looked very interesting in the distance. It had lots of rubble at the base and was actually located near our campground.

 
 
We stopped in Sundance to fuel up for our drive tomorrow.

 
 
We drove down historic Main Street and saw the old high school building with the original leaded glass windows.

 
 
This was the old State Bank with the same style of architecture as some of the other buildings in town.

 
 
We arrived back at the campground around 3:00. Dark clouds were forming over the mountains and we could hear thunder frequently. We thought we’d take Auggie for a walk before the rain came. We wanted him to meet Maggie, a tiny Yorkshire terrier who could move around a soccer ball with her nose. She was a cutie! We returned to the camper and Auggie and I sat outside for awhile until the drops began to fall. Around 4:30, the winds and rain arrived as they have done almost every day at this time. We watched some TV before dinner waiting for the rain to stop so we could grill burgers. The rain continued pretty heavily until 5:45 and then the clouds dispersed and the storm moved on. Auggie and I took our evening walk after dinner and could feel a new chill in the air. We could see more storms off in the distance as darkness fell. 

 
 
We’ll get an early start tomorrow as we have about 230 miles to go to get to the Little Bighorn Battlefield near Garryowen, WY.

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