Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Travel Day to a Really Big Rock

It was kind of hard to let go of Custer! But, it was time, so at 8:46 this morning, we pulled out of Broken Arrow Campground and, followed by the other Phaeton, we drove off to begin our short travel day.

We took Highway 16 West to Newcastle, Wyoming and then 85, 585, I-90, 14, and 24 to Devils Tower. It was the scenic route! The hardest part of the drive was just a few miles west of Custer, over a pass on a very narrow, twisty road. We made it ok, just went slow. Good practice for some of the roads I suspect we'll be on as we make our way to the coast. We saw some beautiful scenery, and even though we were on hilly, twisty roads throughout the 113 mile drive, we got 8.7 mpg overall.

Almost as soon as we got parked, we started preparing our lunch, which consisted of grilled trout, cheesy-broccoli-rice, and fresh veggies. Then it was time to head off to the monument - Devils Tower, or Bear Lodge as it is known to the Native Americans - which we can see right from the KOA where we're staying tonight. The entrance to the monument is just outside the campground, so I guess this is about as close as we can camp without actually being on the monument property.

Scientists are not in agreement about how Devils Tower was formed, and there are several different Native American legends about its origin as well. Volcanoes play a role in at least one of the scientific theories, and the bear has a role in all of the Native American legends. However it was formed, it is an impressive hunk of rock. It was the first National Monument, so designated by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 under the Antiquities Act.
This is a view of the Belle Fourche River from the path around the base of the tower:

Mark and Dortha stopped for a rest:

We arrived at the visitor's center and started off on foot for our 1.3 mile walk around the base of the tower. As we looked at it and took pictures, we could see climbers scaling the west face. Around to the south, we watched another group of climbers who were on the way down. According to the literature, about 5,000 climbers ascend the tower each year.
It's very difficult to understand the massive size of this tower, so it may be hard to imagine how far away these climbers really are as they reach the top:
This view from the base may give some idea. The climbers in the above picture were just topping the rock as I caught the photo:
Around on the south side, these climbers were on the way down:

No climbing from these guys, stopping for a short break on the walk:

After our walk, we stopped at the trading post across the street from the campground, where Mark and Jim got refreshed with ice cream cones, while Dortha and I wandered around the store, looking for treasures, Then we came back to the campground and looked around their gift shop before coming back to the rigs, where we settled in for the evening.

On to the next adventure tomorrow!


Speedy said...

Looks like fun I will have to add that to my must see list. I also want to go to the Little Big Horn where you will be soon.

Mike McFall said...

Yep...Custer misses ya already!!!

Find any cache's around the Tower?

Travel safe!!