The Gökova kiteboard beach near Akyaka, Turkey.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? The village of Gökçe near Akyaka, Turkey.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Not sure yet!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Nice visit to Devil's Tower, Wyoming

Woke up Tuesday to a windy morning in Moorcroft, Wyoming. It looked like we were going to have a heavy crosswind for our drive up to Devil's Tower, but once we got on the road we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had a nice tailwind helping us along.

Devil's Tower is located kind of in the middle of nowhere. Arriving at the entrance, we found ourselves in tourist land. A big KOA campground on one side, and a tourist trinket shop on the other side.

However, the surrounding area is really pretty. The other day, I had said that I figured the nice scenery was past us as we moved into the eastern section of Wyoming, so we were pleasantly surprised. In fact, that highway 24 that leads you from Devil's tower east to South Dakota is a really pretty drive!

On the way to Devil's Tower.

Our first view of it in the distance.

Scenery along the way.

And then, you turn a corner and you come to this...

A huge chunk of rock sticking up out of the ground.

There's an information board at the photo stop that says geologists aren't sure how this rock came to be. Some think it is the interior cone of an ancient volcano.

Just outside the entrance gate.

The area inside the entrance gate is actually called Devil's Tower National Monument, but it is administered by the National Parks system. Fortunately, we bought an annual USA National Parks Pass because otherwise it would have cost $25 USD ($34 CAD) per vehicle to enter the property.

We had to wait in line with about 10 vehicles in front of us, then drive a couple of miles to the parking area. It was really busy, but we managed to get a spot in the RV section. 

There are several different trails that you can hike, including the most popular paved trail that is the shortest route around the rock. Obviously it's also the busiest, and there were a lot of people. Pretty tough to maintain a 6' distance from anybody else, and it didn't seem like many people were trying very hard. We wouldn't have done that trail anyhow, but in this case it made even more sense to do the most difficult trail which was about 3 miles (5 kms) with a fair bit of elevation difference.

It looks a little different from different angles.

Our trail took us through some forested areas.

Camera fun!

That rock is not so big!

How many pictures of a rock can you take??

Nice views of the area surrounding the tower.


The Indians live here? Nope... it's part of the KOA!

Zoomed in on the entrance gate lineup.

Yet another view.

Can you see the rock climbers?

How about now?





Not for me.

We like climbing over rocks, but not rock climbing!

It was a good visit, but no need to hang around. Too many people. We continued on to the little western town of Hulett where we had some lunch and used the free library WiFi.

Scenery along the way.

In the town of Hulett.

Then we continued east to the village of Alva where I had seen on Google satellite view that the town cemetery might make for a good overnight spot. I parked at the side of the road and walked up. It would have been a bit steep for Sherman, and the road wasn't in the best of shape, but I'm pretty sure he would have made it okay. At the top, there was a decently level parking area and the views were fantastic. I walked back down to Ruth and discussed it but we decided to carry on a bit further to a section of Black Hills National Forest.

Yikes. This guy should have paid attention to the "Curves Ahead" sign!

Scenery along the way.

We pulled onto a forest service road, and I had read on the Ultimate Campgrounds app that the first site was about 3 miles in. Many forest service roads aren't in very good condition, so Sherman never really knows what he's getting himself into. But in this case, it was probably the smoothest forest service road he has ever done! The first site we arrived at was already taken, but Sherman didn't mind carrying on to the next one.

And it turned out that it was better than the first one!

Sherman, parked with a beautiful view!

And, we had climbed to about 4,800' and the air was so much more crisp and fresh. We walked just under a mile to the next site, but the one we were at was the best so we stayed put.

Playing backgammon in the shade with a view.

I got the BBQ out to do some pork chops for dinner. As the meat was cooking away, I heard some rustling of branches and stuff down below. There was quite a steep cliff that we were parked beside and I wandered over to the edge to see if I could see what was making the noise. 

Sure enough, it was a black bear! It looked at me, and it stood on his hind legs, He was only about 20 yards away from me, but he was below me and I wasn't sure if he was nimble enough to make his way up the steep cliff, but it wouldn't have surprised me. I went back to get Ruth, and  the camera, but by the time I cautiously made my way back to peer over the edge, it was gone.

View from our side window.

Slept like a rock. Today, we make our way into South Dakota.

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And in Canada...



14 comments:

  1. I use to rock climb, but now that I'm older and my sense of balance has faded just standing on the edge of cliffs makes me nervous.

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    1. That is something that neither Kevin nor I have ever had an interest in but we sure marvel at how rock climbers do what they do. I find as I get older sharp drop offs bother me a whole lot more than they ever did, Kevin doesn't seem to have a real issue with it though.

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  2. The Black Hills are beautiful. There's an old railroad gradebed that runs from Deadwood to Edgemont that is perfect for a bike ride.

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    1. As much as we would like to do that bike ride we aren't headed that way. We were in that area back in October 2015 so we have done a bit of exploring there before. This time we are headed east through South Dakota and headed to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

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  3. "Close encounters of the third kind" comes to mind. I'm pretty sure that rock was a prominent feature…

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    1. I think for many people (maybe not the younger generation) seeing Devil's Tower will always remind them of the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It does for us. :-)

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  4. It has been YEARS since I did any kind of climbing but that rock sure looks like fun!

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    1. Kudos to you, if you are/were a rock climber. We think that takes nerves of steel to do that. Devil's Tower would definitely be a fun rock to climb.

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  5. I'm excited to see where you go in SD. Hoping you'll come across places I haven't seen yet (I'm on the east side of SD).

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    1. Don't get you hopes up too much, we really aren't going to be exploring much in South Dakota, not like we did in many of the other States we have been through in the last three months. We are now on a mission to get to the border in Sault Ste. Marie by the end of the month and we still have lots of driving to do, at least what we think is lots of driving! :-)

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  6. Knowing how quickly bears can climb trees, I suspect that one could have zoomed right up the embankment had he wanted to.
    Purina Bear Chow!
    Now With Kevin Flavor!

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  7. You got some great photos of Devil's Tower! We didn't stay long, because it was hot, crowded, and we had Paisley with us. No dogs allowed on the trails, so we couldn't do any of the hikes. Fortunately, we got in free with our park pass, so it wasn't a total loss. I love the photos you took where you two were "touching" the top of the tower. Fun!

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    1. Thank you Emily! It was great to see it from all different kinds of angles. We saw quite a few people sitting out with their dogs or in their vehicles with their dogs and the air conditioner going because like you they couldn't take the dogs on the trails. Sorry you weren't able to do the trail, it was really good. There was no way we were doing the shorter one though, there were just too many people on it and there would have been no way to keep that 6ft distance between you and the next person. We can't even begin to imagine what that place would be like in the summer during a normal year!

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