December 7, 2019

Devils Tower National Monument

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Our daily visitor

Initially, I thought a week in South Dakota might be too long. I mean, seriously, how much is there to do and see in that state anyway. As it turns out, there is just so much to see and do in that state that a week wasn’t enough. After the Eclipse, we had an Airbnb in Rapid City. It’s a great central location to explore the rest of SD and even a little bit of Wyoming. Rapid City, also known as gateway to Black Hills, has a population of just under 70,000 and is one of the largest cities in the state. Their downtown is very cute and each corner of an intersection has a statue of a president.¬†Rapid City also offered a variety of food options from Indian to Vietnamese cuisine. After a few days of steak and burgers, us city folks were craving some “ethnic” food and Rapid City did not disappoint.

IMG_4110-Our Airbnb was on top of a hill in Rapid City so we had beautiful views and the added bonus was we had “visitors” every morning. There was a peach tree in the back yard and a huge white tailed deer came for breakfast every morning. A few times there was also a rabbit in the back yard (I think it was cottontail but I’m not sure). It almost felt like something out of a Disney movie where the deer and the rabbit are friends having breakfast together.

IMG_4145-One morning, we decided to visit Devil’s tower in Wyoming because we have to visit the mountain from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Especially since it was the 40th anniversary of the movie and the drive¬†was less than 2 hours from Rapid City. We had a late breakfast at a Mexican place called Que Pasa before heading to Wyoming. The Devil’s Tower loop was very beautiful and it’s amazing how the landscape changes as you cross from South Dakota to Wyoming. South Dakota was flat and mostly brown while Wyoming is mountainous and green. Once we parked, we went on an easy 1.3 mile Tower Trail Loop hike. As you walk through the trail, you pass three different kinds of habitats: ponderosa pine forest, open prairie and spearfish formation. If you are lucky, you’ll also spot deer, wild turkeys and bluebird. We saw a family of spotted deer but no other wildlife.

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view along the trail

On the trail we noticed there were a lot of people climbing the top of the tower. The tower is made of hardened magma so there are lots of cracks. The tower is made up of mostly hexagonal columns. The climb up to the top of the tower is challenging. The tower is about 867 feet high and on average about 5,000 to 6,000 people try to climb to the top. That’s an average of about 15 people per day which seems like a lot to me. The tower has a significant cultural and religious importance to many tribes so every June, there is a voluntary rock climbing closure. One of the more interesting warnings to climbers is they might encounter snakes, poison ivy, wasps, falling rocks and falcon attacks. Yep, falcon attacks! But we actually saw a few people make it all the way to the top. It hike isn’t very long but we stopped and watched a few people climb the top of the tower so it took us a long time to finish the hike. By the time we were done, we were hungry and decided to get dinner before heading back to Rapid City for the night.

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