After the Oregon Trail Ruts in Guernsey, we made for the nearest back roads to reach Devil’s Tower in time for sunset. It took us about 3 hours, but it was some beautiful countryside – mountain roads with lots of curves and switchbacks. Ponderosa pines lining the mountains, with signs of controlled fires that undoubtedly protected both the ecosystem and the homes. Incidentally my new Acura RDX also loved these roads 🙂
As we approached Devil’s Tower, we were immediately stunned but its sheer magnitude compared to everything else around. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Ayers Rock outside of Alice Springs, Australia. A lot of nothing and then…BOOM – a huge, towering formation.
Here was our first glimpse as we approached from the road:
Before we went up to Devil’s Tower, we decided to take a pit stop, see some covered wagons and tee-pees, and most important, take a photo of a boot (now that’s country).
We paid the $10 park entrance fee for the vehicle (it was after hours so we honor-systemed it into the drop-box), and drove up to the base of Devil’s Tower. There was plenty of parking and even though it was nearing sunset, there were a great deal of people – mostly because of the bus of Chinese tourists that had arrived right before us. We started the mile loop around Devil’s Tower, and a mountain climber (who literally drove cross-country for 48 hours and then climbed up) who was also a good photographer snapped this photo of me on some rocks in front of the larger rock. Seriously, that guy was crazy.
We continued our hike around the Tower and found Native America prayer beads and cloths. The legend behind Devil’s Tower goes like this. There was seven sisters and 1 brother. One day, the sisters and brother were out walking. Suddenly, the brother was turned in to a bear, and start to chase the sisters. To escape him, they climbed up on a small tree. However, this wasn’t enough to evade the bear since the bear was large and the tree was small. So, the tree grew and grew and grew until at last the sisters were in safety among the heavens. As the tree grew, the bear tried furiously to climb the tree and reach the sisters – and its claw marks can still be seen as the striations all around Devil’s Tower today. And the sisters? They became the 7 Sisters Constellation – the Pleiades – in the night sky.
The view from the rock was amazing, looking out onto an idyllic mountain valley, complete with stream, below.
By the time we had circled all around Devil’s Tower (the loop hike) it was sunset. Here was the final picture we snagged as the sun was dropping over the horizon, casting a red hue to the tower, paying homage to its name.
We literally watched the color of Devil’s Tower change before our eyes over the course of the hour – from yellow to orange to red…and we hear they light it up at night!
But we didn’t stick around, because we still had a few hours of driving and had to get to Hill City, South Dakota to sleep for the night.