We took the Scenic Byway through Spearfish Canyon when we started to head toward Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (new state #3!). I love, love, love scenic routes and byways. We came across a beautiful little waterfall, and I tried to get some great audio/video of it for when I’m in med school and need a quick escape into my “happy place.” It was hard to get video of that though. Western South Dakota is much more beautiful than I had ever imagined, so pictures will have to suffice.
Devil’s Tower is quite the wonder. Forever ago, hot magma bubbled up under the earth’s crust, cooled and hardened, and then over the years the surrounding ground eroded away, revealing the hardened magma in this shape. This is the first national monument in the US.
There are two hiking trails around Devil’s Tower. The short trail is about a mile long, and encircles the base of the Tower. We hiked this one first. It’s a well-maintained trail, and is actually paved. This makes it family-friendly and handicapped accessible. From this vantage point, looking directly up the lined face of the Tower, you can see a few tiny specks–those are actually rock climbers. We saw one register in the log book when we parked. I cannot even imagine climbing this thing!
We then tried the longer trail, about 3 miles, that included the red clay along the valley. On the backside of the trail, there were no trees. We were totally exposed to full sunlight, and that’s when I could feel my sunscreen start to fail. This lead to my first real tan since the Bahamas in May 2011. Whoops.
Leaving Devil’s Tower, we traveled up into the mountains along Powder River Pass Creek. In the valley, it was 90 degrees; at the highest elevation (9666 feet), it was 56 degrees.
That night, we did stay in a hotel. The shower was wonderful! We actually had internet service (just in time for me to get an email from school saying I had to register for a pre-orientation orientation via internet on a specified day… when I hadn’t had reliable service for days. Go figure.), but since we hadn’t watched TV since we left on our trip, we opted to leave the TV off. Being so disconnected has done wonders for my stress levels, and I don’t really miss having TV or internet.