In July of 2021, my sister and I jumped into her car and took a 3-week drive! We had a general idea of the locations we wanted to visit, but we didn’t make any advance reservations because we didn’t want to be slaves to the calendar. At this point in our journey, we had been staying in Hill City, SD for a few days, and now we are headed west. Our next stop is Devils Tower National Monument.
Devils Tower National Monument has two walking trails that go around the base of the Tower. We saved the 3-mile option for you, and we chose the shorter, 1-mile loop which was completely paved! It was actually easy enough to hike in flipflop sandals but I would recommend something more substantial, like hiking shoes!
Have you ever hiked either of these trails? Please tell me about your visit in the comment section below.
Gift Shops at the Gate
At the base of Devils Tower, near the entrance, there are two gift shops. One of them is associated with the KOA campground and is mostly camping-focused, while the Devils Tower Trading Post is a traditional gift shop offering t-shirts, coffee mugs, and jewelry. There’s even an ice cream shop!
National Parks are Free to Veterans
Since my previous National Parks Pass had expired, I was prepared to purchase another one at $80/yr. At $25 per visit, it would only take 4 visits for the pass to pay for itself. So it was an easy justification.
As I tried to pass my credit card to the attendant, she held it and asked, “Is anybody in the vehicle a veteran?” To which I replied, “Well yes! I am a veteran!” and produced my ID.
She took it, paired it with my credit card, and held them both in plain sight while she said: “There is no charge for you or the people in your vehicle. It’s something the prior administration did, was to make all National Parks free to veterans!”
Sweet! Thank you, President Trump!
Folklore and Controversy
The folklore surrounding Devils Tower National Monument goes something like this: Two young boys were taking a hike when a giant bear with claws the size of trees began hunting them. The boys prayed for help, and the rock grew towards the sky with the two boys safely on top of it.
The controversy involves the fact that some people don’t believe the official story. You see, the official story from the National Parks Service says “Devils Tower is a stock—a small intrusive body formed by magma, which cooled underground and was later exposed by erosion”.
They continue, “The concept of erosion exposing the Tower is common to all of its modern formation theories. Ironically, the erosion which exposed the Tower also erased the evidence needed to determine which theory of Devils Tower’s formation is the correct one.”
Really? The erosion which exposed the tower….erased the evidence? Translation: “You’ll never know the truth!”
Meanwhile, and here’s the real controversy, doesn’t it look like a tree? I mean, just use your eyes. I’m not convinced either way, but my curiosity is piqued! What’s YOUR opinion?
Along the Way
Along the way, we stopped at a few places and had some fun. We had lunch at a gift shop/restaurant. And in their bar, was a pair of curious barstools that made us look like big-bottom girls!
So far, our 3 week journey has been quite amusing! Our next stop is The Great Salt Lake. But it will take a couple of days to get there, because we’ve gotta drive through the state of Wyoming! Ready? Let’s go!