Part 13 of Into the West is the continuation of a multi-part series that chronicles the journey that Shelley and I embarked on in late August and early September of last year. A journey that covered over 5,000 miles, seven states, and two provinces of Canada over the course of about two weeks. If you missed any of the previous parts click here to get caught up.
Shelley and I awoke in Gillette, Wyoming on day fifteen of the trip hoping to spend time at both Devils Tower National Monument and Badlands National Park. Shelley had previously been to Devils Tower National Monument, whereas I had not. We both have spent time in Badlands National Park on previous trips out west. This would be our last day of sightseeing for this trip, prior to stopping to see family in Iowa before heading home to Kansas City.
Devils Tower National Monument
The drive from Gillette to Devils Tower National Monument reminded me of the drive along I-70 through western Kansas and eastern Colorado, where most people expect to start seeing the Rocky Mountains rising out of the high plains. Well, in this case I had no idea what to expect. At first I thought that I’d be able to see Devils Tower off in the distance for quite sometime prior to being on the land that has been set aside for it. This just wasn’t the case, until we came around a curve in the road. And there it was-standing alone on the high plain right in front you.
Luckily the Wyoming Highway Department has provided pullouts on both sides of the road in this prime location for seeing the Tower at this point on the road. After photographing the signage at the pullout, and of course Devils Tower itself, we continued down the road. It was not very long until we came to an even better view of Devils Tower, this time the pullout was on the southbound side of the road.
Shelley and I stopped, made a few photographs from this location, and then continued on to the entrance to the National Monument.
We drove until the end of the road where the visitors center is located. We then decided to hike up to Devils Tower and walk around the feature for a few minutes
After walking a little while on the Tower Trail we made our way back to the vehicle and headed out of the Monument area. Along the way we stopped for a few more photographs.
Badlands National Park
Our next and final stop on this trip into the west was Badlands National Park, which is about a four hour drive from the Devils Tower National Monument area.
I love driving through Badlands National Park; each of the different layers of the formations has a different color to it. This is more pronounced after rain or in the golden hours of light–early morning or evening. That being said, even in the harsh light in the middle of the day it is well worth the diversion if you are traveling along I-90 near Wall, South Dakota.
Unlike the previous time that I had been to Badlands National Park when I only saw buffalo, this time we saw sheep, prairie dogs, and a lone coyote.
Badlands National Park was the perfect ending to this whirlwind trip of the west. Shelley and I have many more photographs and a lot of memories of the places that we visited. It is still a little hard to image that we traveled so far and saw so much of this beautiful country in fifteen days. We are looking forward to our next adventure, and once it is finished we will share the journey with you.