Today our roller coaster route took us over the border to Wyoming, in search of yet another National Monument--Devil's Tower, aka Bear's Lodge to Native Americans.
Just outside the gate is this long building housing a snack shop, gift shop and restaurant where we stopped for lunch before entering the Monument. There is a similar building across the street. This kind of reminded me of the mall in Chicken, Alaska.
This carving commemorates a Devil's Tower origin legend among Native Americans. Several tribes share a similar story. The basic story concerns 7 sisters who were attacked by a bear. They climbed on the stump of a great tree. As they did the stump began to rise into the air. The bear reared against the trunk and scored it with its claws. The seven sisters were borne into the sky and they became the stars of the Pleiades.
Ready to hike after our burgers. Yes, mine was buffalo burger, and yes it was very tasty.
Our first close view inside the Monument grounds.
Top (notice the green tinge.)
People are allowed to climb along the rocks at the base of the tower, and qualified rock climbers can climb the tower itself.
This girl (about 8 years old, I think) is pretending that she doesn't hear her parents telling her to come down.
Tower climbers are required to climb in pairs.
During the month of June the park asks for a voluntary ban on climbing. The tower has always been a sacred spot to Native Americans and June is a sacred month. There were many of these prayer flags around the base.
The park was full of visitors, but we didn't have a problem minding a parking space. We went to the visitors' center to stamp our passports and gather information, then walked up the paved path to the base. Duane and I opted to walk all of the way around the base, taking in the different faces of the butte, noticing little critters, beautiful flowers, towering Ponderosa pines and their wonderful scent, and appreciating the songs of birds and of wind in the pines.
At one point we were treated to this wonderful view of a valley. In the distance, the little black dots are cattle. Imagine being a pioneer coming here for the first time and seeing not cattle but buffalo there.
This is the only view of (and from) the top of the butte that we will see.
A last view of Devil's Tower with surrounding (red) Spearfish deposits
A stop for ice cream and Pepsi cooled us off for our return trip home. From Custer, SD Brock drove us (in his truck because of the heat) west on US 16 about 28 miles into Wyoming. At I90 it turned north to Devil's Tower. Returning we took US 14 southeast to I90 west, then St. Rd. 116 to US 16 east back to South Dakota. We enjoyed lots of curvy roads, beautiful scenery, and buffalo, prairie dog, and antelope sightings. This would have been a wonderful motorcycle ride.
Tomorrow, one last long ride in this area.
Louise and Duane