Here we are, back in the saddle after a (much too) long break. It has been a while since we filled in the last details of our cross-country road trip, but some of our last stops were too amazing to never share. After an amazing week hiking and rafting in Jackson Hole, we began the long drive home. Our first stop was Devils Tower National Monument.
Many of the amazing natural land forms around the west were considered sacred by the different Native American tribes scattered across the land. Each tribe has their own mythology surrounding Devils Tower with many amazing origin stories. My favorite is the the Kiowa and Lakota’s story.
Some younger girls in the tribe were out playing when they encountered some aggressive grizzly bears. Knowing they could not outrun them, they fell to their knees and prayed. The gods lifted up the ground under them forming the large tower. Frustrated, the grizzlies scratched the sides of the tower with their claws leaving the well known vertical cracks in the side of the tower. It became know among the Lakota as Bear Lodge.
We now know that Devils Tower is volcanic in nature. The enormous columns of angular rock are columnar basalt: magma that cooled into long multi-sided pillars. While not all geologists agree on the exact origin of the 1,267 foot tower, most theories involve an old volcano in which the magma cooled before erupting. Similar formations can be seen at Devils Postpile National Monument in California, the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland, and various places out west.
With still a long way to drive that night (plus no schedule campsite), Jessica and I took a quick tour of the monument. We hiked along its base and marveled at its incredible mass and scale. Returning to the car we made a visit to the prairie dog towns. Jessica took this opportunity to remain in the car–away from the gross rodents–while I wandered among the prairie dogs without a visa.
Prairie dogs have a large set of distinct calls that they use to warn the group of threats. They were definitely using their “tall dude with a camera” call while I was walking through their town, and I felt bad for interrupting their routines. Eventually, the prairie dogs stopped caring that I was there, and I was able to grab some awesome shots with my 400mm zoom lens.
While Devils Tower was the main attraction, the whole area around the monument is remote and beautiful. The grasses and plants were blooming with subtle yellows and purples which added a wonderful color to every view. While the monument was a few hours out of the way, both Jessica and I were glad we had visited. Here are a few more shots of the area.