Date with Devils Tower


After three nights in Rapid City, you’d think we would’ve seen all there was to see there, but no, as it turns out we could’ve spent probably two extra days there doing other stuff that was definitely on the second tier but still seemed worth checking out. But the agenda had already been set, so we left South Dakota behind and headed back into Wyoming. We didn’t really want to stick around too much longer anyway, since the giant Sturgis motorcycle rally was starting in a couple of days, and there were already tons of middle-aged, weathered bikers running around the state checking out the same landmarks as we were.

So it was off to Devils Tower, made famous by the Close Encounters movie but apparently it has been there for quite some time. The tower is fairly remote, it could’ve been done in a day trip from Rapid City with time to spare, but for us it was just a stop along the road to Casper. We spent a couple of hours there, for once it was relatively mild and overcast, and while it threatened to rain it never did while we were at the place. We saw a ranger talk about the history of climbing the tower and how people did it, then did the trail walk all the way around, which wasn’t the original intent, but once we got to the half way point, it was either turn around or keep going.

There’s nowhere to eat within 100 miles of the place, so we bought some time with a few soft pretzels for the kids and ended up not stopping for lunch until Gillette, by which time it was past 2pm. We hadn’t been to any fast food chains the whole trip, so we stopped at Wendy’s. We stopped again in Buffalo, so the kids could take a break at an old carousel that was operated by a gift shop just off the highway. They had a ferris wheel too that was manufactured in Jacksonville, Illinois, but it wasn’t currently operating because of liability reasons.

For dinner we thought we’d do something different for a change and actually check into the hotel first, so we made it to the Parkway Point in Casper for our one night there by 6pm or so. There was supposed to be a steakhouse just down the block, but when we got there there was a huge sign that said there’d been a fire and they had temporarily relocated to… the Parkway Point hotel, and sure enough there it was when we returned. Had to wait a while for a table, and while longer the food (Wyoming is like Barbados in this respect that no one in the service industry is in much of a hurry), but finally had some Wyoming steak and dessert and everything, such that it was after 9 before we were back in the room, so so much for turning in early.