After spending the night in Medora, we headed west to see Devils Tower. My husband had only seen the tower from the interstate and I hadn’t been there since I was very young. Devils Tower is 1,267 feet higher than its surrounding area and 5,112 feet above sea level. It was established as a national monument in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. Once you get close to it, you can appreciate the size, and you can also spot climbers on their way to the top.
We had a picnic lunch on one of the large boulders, walked on the trail and checked out the visitors center. In 2008, Junkyu Muto’s sculpture “Circle of Sacred Smoke” was installed by the campground road on the way to the visitors center. Sit at the bench which is positioned well enough to get a photo of the tower within the circle. There are pull off areas in the park to stop and take pictures of the prairie dogs but I saw a lot just on my short walk to the sculpture.
Then we headed to Bear Butte, which rises 1,253.5 feet above its surrounding area and 4,426 feet above sea level. Even though it is only slightly lower than Devils Tower to the surrounding area, it is not nearly as impressive. On our way to Deadwood, we drove through Sturgis. The city was much larger than I imagined, with a population of 6,627 from the 2010 census. I pictured a little strip of a town that was quiet during most of the year and then came to life during the motorcycle rally. Honestly, it looks much larger than the population 6,627.
Deadwood is a great town that boomed during the gold rush. We missed out on seeing the cemetery with Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane…next time. Whiskey and beer at the Nugget was our main goal, then back to Sundance, Wyoming to stay at the Bear Lodge Motel. This is where the Sundance Kid earned his nickname after spending 18 months in jail here in 1887 for stealing a gun, horse and saddle with his cousin.
After a generously sized breakfast at the Dog Pound Grill & Ice Cream, we stopped to see Crazy Horse. Pulling off into the parking lot before the entrance was enough for us. It is still under construction, but the plans for how it will look after completion are fantastic.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial was next on the list. Construction began in 1927 and was completed between 1934 and 1939. The original plan was to carve the presidents from head to waist, but a lack of funding stopped any further activity in 1941. Even without the original carving plan completed, Mount Rushmore is awesome to see. There are coin operated viewers and a trail that will allow you to get a different perspective – closer, but a little lower.
Headed home with a loop through the South Dakota Badlands. We took the South Dakota Highway 240 loop and went in at Pinnacles entrance south of Wall and left through the northeast entrance. The drive is beautiful, but for photography, it would be best during sunrise or sunset hours.
The Badlands was a good end to the trip, and very beautiful. I can imagine how well the landscape would be glowing with the glow of the setting sun lighting it.