Devil's Tower and Badlands

Published: August 2nd 2019
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Big day, today. We had Devil’s Tower on our agenda, but mid-day we decided to add Badlands as well. We left the hotel at 8:10 AM and 63 degrees. The weather was promising rain for a good part of the day. The skies were cloudy and we had a low ceiling hanging heavy over us all day long. The cows were lying down in the pastures and, according to my mother, that means rain is coming.

It only took us a little over an hour to get to Devil’s Tower National Park. The scenery was familiar, with rolling green hills, cows and horses in pastures, and occasional faces of gray rock poking out at us along the side of the road. Miles before we got to the gate, we caught sight of the top of the tower and were surprised to be able to see it from so far away. As we approached the area, there was a deep gorge of red rock running along the side of the road, much like a mini Grand Canyon, with horizontal striations of orange, red and tan waving their way along the rutty, uneven rocky walls. It always boggles my mind wondering how this all came to be. I have never studied geology or anything like it, so I have no clue, only awe.

As we approached the entry, the rock turned a bright red (Norm, you would love this). We used our pass to enter saving us the $25 entry fee, and rolled on up the road. Our first stop was at a pasture where the prairie dogs live. These little critters are cute as can be and friendly, too. It is clear, they are not afraid of people. As I was taking photos of them, one did a dance, as if like a model posing in a photo session. I am not kidding. It showed me it’s left side, then turned to show me it’s right side, then turned toward me and sat up and posed for the frontal view. It was hilarious. This all was taking place at the base of the tower.

What can I say about the tower. Everyone knows what it looks like, but probably not so much about how it is positioned. I have always pictured it on flat ground. Not true. It sits on a high hill of its own, trees and shrubs growing all around the hill and on one side, incredible red rock faces reaching out of the foliage in bold exposure. The actual tower looks like it is made of cement vertical strips, all tall and straight and seemingly evenly spaced all around. My camera zoom was able to show that there are irregularities at the top and the base and you can see where pieces of the strips have broken off and fallen away. Steve climbed the path to the base and was able to take a photo of broken rock behind the greenery.

The road that takes you to the back side is about two miles long and ends at the visitor’s center. Then you drive that road back to the entrance. It doesn’t take a long time to view this magnificent projectile rising high into the sky, but it is worth the drive to take it all in.

We left the park and headed toward Rapid City. And it began to rain. At times it came down pretty hard. But we decided to chance the weather and move on to Badlands, which is about 50 miles east of our hotel. When we got there it was not raining but it soon began and with the ceiling hovering just above us, it did not make for the best photos. But I did lighten them up a bit before posting them.

Badlands is a place where they decided the land was good for nothing, so they named it such. But it certainly is not good for nothing. You can’t farm it, you can’t graze animals on it, and you can’t build a community on it, but you certainly can look at it with reverence and admiration. The land is peppered with large and small stony eruptions from the ground, mostly in pink and in every shape and size imaginable. It rises high and it dives deep into the ground. And you can drive for over 20 miles admiring area after area of these incredible statues of nature. We chose the short route, as we needed to drive back to Rapid City for the night and when we found our hotel, we discovered we had again booked one we had stayed in before with all sorts of fun and activities built into it. We did not partake, however, as time did not permit.

Tomorrow is a long travel day. We will drive all the way to Rochester MN. We have a date with a camp on a lake in Maine and we don’t want to be late.

Additional photos below
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2nd August 2019

Been there!
Enjoying each days review but today was full of memories. Have been to Badlands numerous times. Devils Tower was amazing. Pictures wonderful. And now you are headed to our country. Rochester is maybe five hours from our cabin. That part of Minnesota is filled with small towns and antique shops. Hasn’t been hot so you might enjoy some cooler days.
2nd August 2019

Did you visit Mt. Rushmore near Rapid City?
I visited Mt. Rushmore when driving west at age 16. One of my fondest memories.

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