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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?