We said a reluctant goodbye to Sheridan and soon after lunch were excited to see Devils Tower looming large and blue on the smokey horizon.
Shortly after, we were camped at the KOA just outside Devils Tower National Monument. The park is a nice one, with plenty of room to walk around and good views of the Tower.
We took a short walk on Tuesday morning, during which all three dogs wound up in the Belle Fourche River. They were very surprised. They thought they were just wading into a shallow stream, only to find the river deep and cold, with a swift current.
One dip was enough, they stayed away from the edge after that.
Last year, we saw the Tower only in the afternoon. This year, we were excited to have a morning perspective. The best views were just at sunrise when the cliffs of the Spearfish formation glowed a deep red.
John and I also took a morning hike around the base of the mountain. Devils Tower is sacred to several Indian tribes that inhabited the area, some of whom have reservations nearby.
Many of he trees surrounding the base of the Tower bear prayer bundles or prayer cloths, placed there by the native peoples. We were careful not to disturb them.
We also saw several climbers working their way up the face of Devils Tower.
Usually there were at least two, one climbing and the other belaying (holding the free end of the rope to ensure that the climber cannot fall very far if he slips).
We were told that the top of the tower is a little larger than a football field, and gently rounded, so it is possible to camp there. In 1941, a man parachuted onto the top of the Tower, and stayed there for several days before a climbing party could reach him and help him to descend.
The views down from the base of the tower are almost as spectacular as those looking up.
Back in camp, we visited with several women who were on their way to a gathering of Sisters on the Fly. This small trailer was decorated inside and out.
The next day, we saw over 100 of the Sisters camped just south of Deadwood and apparently having a wonderful time.
We stayed a couple of nights at Wild Bill’s RV Park. Nice spot as long is the campground isn’t crowded…sites are quite narrow. The dogs loved the nice, grassy area along the creek, but John and I were disappointed to have no AT&T coverage and no Internet.