So we live in Northern Colorado and decided due to our prime location of being near the center of the US, that we’d explore some states outside of Colorado and see things we’d probably never see before had we not moved here. Sometimes road trips are simply too far with kids…and I’m not one to spend a couple thousand dollars on air travel just to get my family across the United States. So things have to be within a day or two away from home, at least for now because flying is expensive.
Anyway, we hit the road about a half hour from the border of Wyoming. In fact, we are so close to the border of Wyoming that we often listen to Wyoming radio stations. And to put this into perspective, we can get to Cheyenne faster than we can get to Denver.
Cheyenne, the capital of Wyoming has a smaller population than Flagstaff Arizona, where I lived for 12 plus years and what I considered a small town. In 2016 Cheyenne’s population was just 64,019 while Flagstaff’s population is 71,459. Outside of Cheyenne, the other towns in Wyoming just get smaller. Wyoming truly is a place with wide open spaces and green pastures with lots of livestock. It’s a place where real cowboys still exist!
So as we were driving through the state of Wyoming up to the north-east corner of the state through some hilly pastures Devils Tower is something you really can’t miss.
Now you might want to say “Devil’s Tower” with an apostrophe S as if the devil owns the tower. But in everything written I’ve seen about this national monument, Devils is plural not possessive. Devils Tower was America’s first national monument! I mean with 117 national monuments, that’s a pretty big achievement for a place that only got its fame and glory from Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Close Encounters”. In fact it got so much fame and glory after the movie’s release, they had to build a trading post just so tourists could collect touristy things from both the movie and landmark. Proceeds from the movie actually funded the trading post! But Devils Tower holds more meaning than a simple movie cameo.
The Lakota Indians hold this landmark as sacred. They believe a giant bear made the claw marks in this natural tower and used this location for many spiritual gatherings. The Lakota Indians refer to this place as Bear Lodge, not Devils Tower as we know it. The Cheyenne, Sioux, and Shoshone tribes also hold this place to be sacred and share many of the same beliefs and stories about its sacredness.
On our one mile trek around this beautiful landmark, we saw why so many see it as special. Geologists studied Devils Tower in the late 19th century and came to the conclusion that it was formed by an igneous intrusion. Meaning that Devils Tower is a volcanic plug or that it is the neck of an extinct volcano.
This is where the boys learned about becoming Junior Rangers. They answered questions and learned about forest safety and about some of the history behind Devils Tower and then took their Junior Ranger oath and received a badge. It was so cute!
I think the neat part about Devils Tower is how many different perspectives you can find of the same location. When the sunlight hits Devils Tower at the right time, its illumination can seem unreal.
We spent a good portion of time walking around the tower and learning about it at the ranger station, but we had more adventuring to do, so we said goodbye and decided to head 30 minutes north up into Montana just to say we went there!
Yes, we actually drove about 20 minutes out of our way just to get these pictures:
And I do believe the sky goes on and on forever in Montana.
But about six miles later, we were in South Dakota! So there ya go! 😉
So as we drive into South Dakota we start winding through the black hills and let me tell you. It was beautiful. There was so much green forest. It was simply amazing, but we had to drive through about an hour of rain to get to our lodge. Now just for the purpose of making this post smaller and easier to read, I will be breaking it up into part 2! We’ll share our trip through the Black Hills from this point a little later. Can you guess where we might have gone?
Here’s our YouTube Video of our trip:
What have you done this summer?
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