Tag Archives: Devils Tower

Heading East & North, Part I — Devils Tower & Belle Fourche, SD, Sept. 27 – Oct. 2, 2016

We returned to Las Vegas from Atlanta, GA (and from Nellie & Michael’s lovely wedding) on September 25.  We spent a few days visiting with Barb’s dad Cliff and sister Audrey, and with replenishing our groceries for our trip back to the midwest.  Oh, and we picked up the RV from the Vegas Chevrolet repair shop, where work had been done in our absence.  It started with a recall:  brake calipers needed replacing, for no cost, of course.  But we also asked that they replace a leaking seal on the left front wheel.  And then they checked the right side, and it was leaking too.  And then while replacing the calipers they discovered the rotors should be replaced.   And the brake pads.   And I asked that they flush the radiator and replace with new coolant.  By the time we got out of there, we had spent well over three boat units!  (Forgive the inside reference.)

Barb and Audrey went out to a musical at the Smith’s Center one night:  Beautiful, the Carole King Musical.  I had no interest in joining them for the show, but I did regret missing their dinner:  All You Can Eat Sushi.

Next day, we began our long trek back toward Bismarck.  We spent two long days (stopping at Walmart parking lots for the evenings) before getting to Devils Tower, in northeast Wyoming, where we were joined by son Jeff (who was returning from a summer of exploring Alaska) for a few days of R&R.  In an adjoining campsite we noticed a single woman who was camping in her car.  Speaking to her out on a trail, we learned she was from Switzerland, and had remained behind for an extra month when her tour group had moved on.  We invited Nicole over for grilled pork tenderloin followed by S’mores.  Very enjoyable encounter.

On October 2 we (including Jeff) moved further east to the Rocky Point Recreation Area campground adjacent to the Orman Dam near Belle Fourche, South Dakota (where my father grew up).  At this time of year there are very few campers in this part of the world.  The ranger at the entrance suggested that if we wanted to be together, we could use the group site.  That worked well, since we were the only ones present there and since the site was commodious enough that I could fashion an unofficial “pull through” and avoid disconnecting the dinghy.

We parted from Jeff when we left Belle Fourche, Jeff heading south and eventually west, and we continuing on toward Bismarck.  But that is the subject of our next post.

Devils Tower — August 21-22, 2014

On our way up to Devils Tower, we chose a scenic route through the Black Hills that took us through Deadwood, where I spent too much time reading the displays in the Adams House Museum.  Our route had us going through tunnels lined up perfectly to see the four faces of Mount Rushmore.  We set up in the Devils Tower National Monument campgrounds and then went up to see the Visitors Center before driving to the town of Hulett (population 383) for supper at the Ponderosa Cafe, where we had a huge meal for an incredibly inexpensive price, served by folks just as friendly as you please.  Next day, Jeff took his leave to continue on to Idaho, and Barb and I went back to the Tower to hike around its periphery.  We saw at least four different sets of climbers on various faces of the Tower, including the descent of a team that consisted of a young guide and a not-so-young 70 year old completing his first climb of Devils Tower.

Devils Tower is thought to have been formed as a large mass of igneous rock which intruded through sedimentary rock beds without reaching the surface, but made a rounded bulge in the sedimentary layers above.  As the magma cooled, hexagonal (and sometimes 4-, 5-, and 7-sided) columns formed. As the rock continued to cool, the vertical columns shrank horizontally in volume and cracks began to occur at 120 degree angles, generally forming compact 6-sided columns.

Devils Tower did not visibly protrude out of the landscape until the overlying sedimentary rocks eroded away.  As the elements wore down the softer sandstones and shales, the more resistant igneous rock making up the Tower survived the erosional forces. As a result, the gray columns of Devils Tower began to appear as an isolated mass above the landscape, today rising dramatically 1,267 feet above the surrounding terrain.

The nearby circle of sacred smoke sculpture honors the American people as a gesture of world peace by sculptor Junkyu Muto. The sculpture is designed to help raise visitor awareness of the importance of the Tower to over twenty affiliated tribes. It is the third of seven works planned by the sculptor around the world. The first two are located at Vatican City and Bodhi, India. The sculpture represents the first puff of smoke from a newly lit pipe.