Monday, June 12, 2017

Devils Tower and Small Town America, Wyoming

We couldn't have been luckier with our campsite at Devils Tower National Monument. This photo below was the view right outside our door. How perfect is that!  We had green, grassy fields all around, and with the bits of red cliff here at there it made for fantastic scenery.

Yes, it's officially Devils Tower, plural, because when the official documents making this land form a National Monument were drawn up someone left out the apostrophe. The intended name was Devil's Tower.

Geologically speaking, it's formed by an magma intrusion, with the surrounding layers of soil eroded away. A nearby range of hills was created by the same type of flow, only it was wider and eroded into the more usual hill shapes.

Mythologically speaking, the mountain has had a mystical meaning for not only Native Americans, but others who come here to experience the beauty and peace of the surrounding forest. This sculpture by Japanese artist Junkyu Muto, titled Circle of Sacred Smoke, is an example of that inspiration.

The Native Americans had several names - Bear Tree is one. The texture of the basalt columns does strongly resemble the bark of the many cottonwoods that grow around it, so that may have been the inspiration.  There are many versions of a story that involves a bear chasing seven little Indian girls up the rock/tree. They went so high they became stars - the constellation Pleiades. The constellation is centered over the tower in the winter.

Whichever way you look at it, Devils Tower is an impressive formation, and it is beautiful here. Cottonwood and pine trees mix in the forest, and the meadows are full of rich grass and wildflowers. . . and a lot of very happy cows!

We enjoyed casual walks around the park and up to the base of the tower, and on our last day we ventured out on a side trip up to Hulette, a little town of about 400 just north of the park. We were pleasantly surprised to discover they were about to hold their Hulette Rodeo parade, so we spent a little time driving around the town and checking out the classic cars at the car show and waited for the parade to begin. People have come for miles around to show their cars, sell hand made items at the stalls set up along Main Street, and to participate in the parade.

The town has a lot of interesting shops, and really is worth a side trip.

The rodeo queen and her court were included of course, along with the high school band, the Lions Club, local churches, the Little League (they threw water balloons at the crowd and rode stick ponies) and of course, the full stable of fire engines.
It was small town America at it's best!

,Everyone clearly had a great time, and after the parade I know they all scooted down to the fire house for a chicken dinner, or over to the car show for a free hotdog (or both!)  The outing gave the dogs a chance to play ball and do a little off-leash exploration, as they don't have those privileges in the campground.

More photos of the park and the parade in the album.

We had beautiful weather all three days, though it was a bit on the hot side on Friday. We sat outside in the late afternoon enjoying the shade and the wind in the cottonwoods to the accompaniment of a symphony of generators and a new-age drum or two. The birds didn't have a chance I'm afraid. Generator hours are 8 to 8, so at least they had to cut them off early!

The Devils Tower campground does not accept reservations, so it's a good idea to arrive early in the day. The sites are curved pull-throughs and fairly spacious, so suitability is a matter of shade/sun exposure, how sharp the curve is, and any leveling issues. We had a perfect view of the tower from our site. There are restrooms in the campground, but no water or electric service.

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