7/17 Note: Just filling in the gap from traveling now that I have an internet connection.
The next stop after Spearfish Canyon was a quick stop in Deadwood, SD and then off to Wyoming. This was the first time that I drove past Deadwood and it was a new experience. The van seemed to hold up well, except for around curves where things got thrown around a bit. I have to remember not to take sharp curves too fast.
If you have never seen “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” this probably would not have a lot of significance. Devil’s Tower was the center of the alien connection in the movie and is as spectacular in real life as it was in the movie. I managed to get a reservation at a tent site in the KOA at Devil’s Tower and had the best view ever! The coolest thing was that KOA showed the movie for free every night and I got to watch it right in front of the tower. How awesome is that!? I get chills just thinking about it. I am an alien enthusiast, but no judgements here please.
I spent two nights there and hiked around the monument. The view is completely different depending on where you are on the trail. There are two trails; one is around the tower itself and is about a mile and the Red Sands Trail is more treacherous at about four miles. I had to hike both of them. Regrets on Red Sands? Almost. It was one of the harder trails I hiked on. I wasn’t prepared and it was a learning lesson. I should ALWAYS carry my back pack with water and bug spray and snacks. The hike took about 3 hours and in the hot sun was grueling. However, I did get some great pics!
Devil’s Tower is considered a sacred and spiritual space to the Northern Plains Tribes, which consists of 6 groups and there about a dozen who are affiliated with the tower. In the month of June they prepare rituals and and tied prayer messages to the trees at the monument. People are not allowed to climb the tower or the boulders in respect to their rituals. Photographs of the trees with prayers are not permitted.