Saturday, September 8, 2007

Devil's Tower National Monument

We woke up to gray mist and clouds sitting on our campground in the Black Hills, and it was damp and chilly. We got dressed much more warmly than we’ve had to up to now, and decided to leave as early as we could for our drive across Wyoming. In fact, we really didn’t even eat breakfast! As we drove on the Interstate again, we were able to find a radio station to give us the weather report, and heard that it is about 15 degrees below normal for this time of year, but after the weekend it should warm up again. Meanwhile we drove through light rain and misting clouds, the latter much more obvious when we were at higher elevations.

Our first stop was the turnoff for Devil’s Tower National Monument. The mist continued, and we met almost no one on the roads, which led through ranchland with occasional cattle, but few other signs of life. Much of the time we were the only car we could see ahead or behind us. Joe wondered suddenly whether the low-lying clouds would obscure the Tower. Then we saw a looming thing through the mist, and pulled onto a turn-out with a sign for the Devil’s Tower Overlook. It was quite dim, covered with clouds, just a darker shape looming in the distance. It reminded me of the way Mt. Hood or Mt. Rainier dominate their horizons. We stayed at the turn-out for a snack (the beauty of being self-contained—we can simply stop and eat whenever we want!) and then continued to the entry for the Tower.

As soon as we got close, it became another one of those constant “wow” moments. You think you’re familiar with this sight, because you’ve seen it in photos and of course featured in Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. But no…. it is amazing in person. There is a path around the base of the Tower which is about 1.3 miles, and we walked it, looking up and being totally fascinated the whole way. The landscape around the Tower was beautiful, too, and there were signs placed along the way to tell us about the history, animal life, geology, etc. of the Tower. Here are just a few of the photos I took.

Looking straight up from the base

Closeup of the "pillars" which make up the Tower

The pillars are usually hexagonal. The heaps of boulders at the base of the tower are pieces which have broken away from the main Tower. You can see the hexagonal shape (which is becoming eroded at the edges) in this photo above.

A view of the valley below from the base of the Tower. The deep red soil and rock is characteristic of the area surrounding Devil's Tower.

Colorful bundles are tied to some of the trees at the base of Devil's Tower. These are prayer bundles, which have been left as personal offerings by Native Americans, to whom the Tower is a sacred spot. Signs ask that tourists leave the bundles undisturbed.

1 comment:

betsy said...

it all sounds great, but what about the BAG O' FUN ?!!