Nature

R & R at Devils Tower

Devils Tower

The view from our campground the first morning.

My husband and I visited Devils Tower, Wyoming about 20 years ago, and we returned again this spring a week or two ago with our camper. It isn’t impressive from a distance like the Rocky Mountains are, but when you get up close, it can be dramatic. Devil’s Tower became famous in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and I was amused by the UFO and space alien tourist junk sold in the area.

Devils Tower

photo courtesy of Matthew Hadacek

The area is sacred to several Native American tribes and was known as Bear Lodge by many, although others called it Bear Rock or Bear Mountain, Tree Rock, and Grizzly Bear Lodge. The spirit of the place feels peaceful and seemed to emanate a feeling of self-empowerment. We reveled in the wild deer, antelopes, and turkeys that we saw throughout our trip.

Devils Tower

Taken from the base of the Tower, you can see the columns that make up the structure.

I had hoped to walk our dogs around the base of the tower, but the park did not allow dogs on the trail, so that was a disappointment. We’d heard that the tower was beautiful at sunset, and I tried twice to photograph a colorful sunset projected onto the western side of the rocks. Unfortunately, the sunsets were quite ordinary while we were there, and I didn’t get the photographs I’d hoped for. When walking around Devils Tower on the trail, it was obvious that the tower consists of many hexagonal columns. They sparkle from the feldspar crystals in the rock, which is phonolite porphyry, made from lava that lifted up. Then the surrounding, softer rocks eroded, leaving the tower rising 5,112 feet above sea level.

Rock climbers, Devils Tower

Devils Tower is a common destination for rock climbers. You can see how large the columns are; the climbers look so tiny! Photo courtesy of Matthew Hadacek.

My husband, dogs, cat, and I stayed in our camper at the KOA campground just outside the park entrance. It was our first time at a KOA, but I was impressed by the WIFI, view, grass and trees. It made for a lush and beautiful stay so early in the spring.

Devils Tower

Yet another view of Devils Tower. You can see the tumble of boulders among the pines at the base.

I wonder if it will be dry and brown by the end of summer like the prairie or will remain green due to the Belle Fourche river that passes by. We are thinking of returning later in the summer, as we really enjoyed this area of Wyoming and near-by western South Dakota.

Wyoming

This is the view from the Devils Tower trail. The local terrain is a bright red, covered with green grass. The Belle Fourche is the small river at the bottom.

We’re considering a trip later in the year to Custer State Park in South Dakota. Our dogs should like it more, because we can take them hiking in the park, unlike Devil’s Tower. I’m getting a front-pack to take with us to carry Jazz, our senior dog. He’s brave, feisty, and loves his walks, but we have to respect his age (15 years) and his arthritis. Exercise is good for him, up to a point. I want to be able to easily carry him when he gets tired, so that he isn’t left out or suffering. If anyone has had experience with these front-packs, please let me know!

creek

The promise of South Dakota

18 replies »

  1. We have never spent any time in the western states, and I would like to do so while we can. Thanks for these great pictures of a very impressive “tower of rock.” And I love your decision about how to include Jazz.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Custer State Park is fantastic – you will love it. The western national parks refusal to allow pets is really annoying. They may not be as scenic, but at least the eastern parks let you take dogs out on some of their trails.

    As for Devil’s Tower, that’s the only place I’ve ever seen a rattlesnake in the wild (knock on wood). I wouldn’t have seen it, either, but someone found it under a rock and was pointing it out to people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I grow up in an area that had lots of rattlesnakes, so I’m always rattlesnake aware. I let my guard down in lush greenery, so thanks for the reminder that they are everywhere. Thanks for the encouragement to check out Custer State Park. It might be our next stop!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The columns at Devil’s Tower are amazing, almost alien in appearance. No wonder rock climbers frequent the area. i’m so glad you managed to include some climbers in the image to give us a sense of size.

    Liked by 1 person

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