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Wyoming, consider yourself redeemed: Devil’s Tower

Wyoming: you are soooo totally redeemed.

In March, I hit the road on a whim on an ordinary Saturday afternoon and drove the 1.5 hours from Denver to Cheyenne, Wyoming. My reasoning: I had never been to Wyoming, it was relatively close by, aaand… I just wanted to.

I eagerly arrived in Cheyenne that afternoon, hoping to experience some cool western culture, check out some “old frontier” stuff, maybe see a buffalo or two… and was met instead by the most mind-numbingly boring city I’d ever stepped foot in (I did see some buffaloes from the road though).

My previous post/my less-than-impressed attitude toward Cheyenne was mostly facetious — I know Wyoming has SOMETHING to offer (Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, etc), but whatever it is was not to be found in Cheyenne.

Anyway, when Amy booked her flight to come visit me in Colorado, we decided to take advantage of her being out in the west and do some exploring in places that we’d be much less likely to visit while living in Philadelphia — & concluded that the Black Hills region of South Dakota was the perfect destination for us.

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To get to the Custer, South Dakota area (where Mount Rushmore & Crazy Horse are located) from Denver, it’s pretty much a straight shot north through Wyoming, then a quick hop across the border into South Dakota. Somehow we got the idea to add on an extra little excursion to visit Devil’s Tower — a detour that took us out of the way by just over an hour, and OH how worth the extra drive it was!

I can now say with sincerity that I no longer think of Wyoming as lifeless, lonely state with nothing to offer, all thanks to the Black Hills & the Devil’s Tower National Monument. What. A. Spectacle. Of. A. Place.

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For those who don’t know, Devil’s Tower, located in northeastern Wyoming, is the United States’ first national monument (officially named as such in 1906) and is a strange geological rock formation that sticks 1200 feet straight up into the sky. The area surrounding Devil’s Tower is a little hilly but still relatively flat, so this thing really just stands out in the middle of nowhere. It’s actually pretty freaky. But cool freaky.

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Amy and I looooved Devil’s Tower. It was our first stop on our Black Hills tour, so we were PUMPED to be out in the west, seeing classic American landmarks, hanging out with prairie dogs, and generally relishing in the fact that we were just two Philly chicks wandering around way out in RURAL WYOMING. How did we get to that point in life? Wyoming. What.

To get up there, we drove past dreary Cheyenne, found ourselves somehow driving along what used to be part of the Oregon Trail, saw some cute Army guys, and almost peed our pants due to the fact there is 1) absolutely NO cell service in Wyoming, like.. anywhere and 2) there are NO. TOWNS. AT. ALL. Okay, slight exaggeration, but really, not by much. If you’re ever planning on driving through Wyoming, make sure you fill up your gas tank any time you pass one at all, because if you wait til you really need gas IT JUST MIGHT BE TOO LATE. Shout out to Wright, Wyoming for saving us when gas levels were dangerously low and my bladder levels were dangerously high.

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Driving into the area surrounding Devil’s Tower, though, was beautiful — green rolling hills for miles, sunshine after a cloudy morning, and red rock scattered across the landscape. Once we parked at Devil’s Tower, we “hiked” the 1.3-mile long path around the monument and took in the views of the countryside (and climbers climbing the rock columns!) along the way. Nothing makes you feel less in shape than seeing some of the most fit people ever doing insane shit like climbing Devil’s Tower on a random Friday morning.

Growing up, we took trips up and down the east coast and were exposed to lots of beautiful places, but this trip to Devil’s Tower was my first time visiting one of those real “classic American bucket list” places, ya know? I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, never seen Old Faithful, never drove through Monument Valley, never gawked at the Half Dome or El Capitan or any of those other crazy places out west. This country is just so damn HUGE. As a native east coaster, those places always felt so distant and unattainable. To be in northeastern Wyoming, casually strolling around Devil’s Tower with my sister, noting all of the varying license plates and remarking on how far they’d all driven… it was some pretty amazing shit.

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We ended our visit eating hamburgers on the outdoor porch of the all-wood-everything Devil’s Tower Trading Post, silently people-watching the many bikers and campers and families. Then we were on our way to yet another classic American landmark… Mount Rushmore awaited!

Have you ever been to Devil’s Tower? — were you just as blown away?

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18 Comments

  • Reply Laura (PA Pict)

    What a fun trip! I’ve wanted to see Devil’s Tower since I saw ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ as a wee lass. I’ve not yet been to Wyoming, however. I keep complaining to my husband that I’m stuck on 25 states and need to see more but in the two years I’ve lived in America I’ve only revisited states I’ve already been to. In fact, I’ve not visited a new U.S. state since 2002. I need to get traveling to pastures new. (My husband is only missing Alaska and Oklahoma.)

    August 24, 2015 at 7:47 am
    • Reply Kristen

      I’m at 25 states too! Devil’s Tower is one of my favorite things I’ve seen since being in the west — definitely worth the trip. Wyoming is full of beauty!

      August 24, 2015 at 11:35 am
  • Reply Hannah Myer

    What an awesomely weird monument. I can’t believe how much I haven’t seen of this freakin’ country.

    August 24, 2015 at 8:49 am
    • Reply Kristen

      Girl you betta preach that. Let’s go on more adventures it’s been too long! (1 month)

      August 24, 2015 at 11:34 am
  • Reply shmamyhopf

    did we have a mini photoshoot that I forgot about lol. <3 devil's <3 tower <3 i love the pictures especially the ones of the prairie dogs!!!!

    August 24, 2015 at 11:10 am
  • Reply Mollie Simon

    Devil’s Tower is on the top of my long list of places I need to visit. Can’t wait to see it for myself one day!

    August 24, 2015 at 11:21 am
    • Reply Kristen

      It was one of my favorite things I’ve seen since being in the west! I’ll go back with you!!!

      August 24, 2015 at 11:33 am
  • Reply Margie

    I definitely would like to see Devil’s Tower at some point. I, too, saw “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and didn’t realize it was filmed at Devil’s Tower. However, it wasn’t your first “classic American bucket list” place. I would place Niagara Falls in that category, and you’ve been there.
    Also, if you’re traveling in Wyoming not only are there not many towns or gas stations, but there aren’t many rest stops either! They were few and far between and even when you saw a sign for one, they were real easy to find!

    August 24, 2015 at 4:29 pm
    • Reply Kristen

      Both times I’ve gone to Niagara Falls I was on the Canadian side!

      August 24, 2015 at 5:00 pm
    • Reply Kristen

      Did you mean the rest stops weren’t easy to find? Because i AGREE! We had to get off the highway and then drive for a few miles to the town to actually get to the bathroom, which was actually inside a big community building with a grocery store and hair salon and little restaurant inside. It was SO BIZARRE! #Wyoming

      August 24, 2015 at 5:01 pm
      • Reply Margie's Recipes 2014

        Sorry, yes I meant the rest stops were NOT easy to find! And, I guess you’re right, we were on the Canadian side of the Falls, but still I would still categorize them as an American bucket list place to see!🇺🇸

        August 24, 2015 at 9:43 pm
  • Reply Hanging with the boys at Mount Rushmore | skyward eyes

    […] Custer, South Dakota late on a Friday afternoon after a 4am wake up call and a glorious few hours exploring Wyoming’s Black Hills & Devil’s Tower. We were, as they say, […]

    August 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm
  • Reply Point of Interest

    Glad you found some good in Wyoming 🙂

    August 27, 2015 at 5:31 pm
    • Reply Kristen

      Next up: the Grand Tetons! I know Wyoming has a lot to offer. Just getting there gradually!

      August 27, 2015 at 6:09 pm
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