Devils Tower; Sundance Wyoming; Jewel Cave; and Crazy Horse Memorial!
A. Broadus, MT Rest Area
We left our rest area overnight early to spend the day winding on tiny back roads, up and down hills, between stops at magnificent National Parks and Monuments.
B. Devils Tower National Monument
Man, it is BIG. Really, really BIG. It just towers over the landscape like something alien.
The native American story is that 7 sisters and a brother were out and about. The brother turned into a bear and started chasing the sisters. The earth opened up and tower arose, lifing the sisters up to safety. The bear-brother clawed at the sides of the tower, which is why the sides have vertical striations (claw marks). The sisters went into the heavens and became the Pleiades constellation. That makes sense to me.
C. Sundance, Wyoming
In 1887, Harry Alonzo Longabaugh stole a gun, horse, and saddle from a cowboy near Sundance, Wyoming. He was captured by authorities in and sentenced to 18 months in jail which he served in the Sundance jail. During his jail time, he adopted the nickname Sundance Kid – as in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We were hoping to see the statue of The Sundance Kid in Jail, but it was removed for construction of site of the Historical Museum.
Leaving Sundance, we crossed over into South Dakota (a new state for us).
D. Jewel Cave
Pop quiz. Getting to Jewel Cave, one 10 mile stretch involved:
- Falling rocks in the road
- Big horn sheep crossing warnings
- 7% down grade
- Tight corners and switchbacks
- No guardrails and 50 – 150 foot drops
- Thunder and lightning
- Torrential downpour
- Random warning alarm that the bus door was open (it wasn’t)
- All of the above
Correct answer: J. ALL OF THE ABOVE!
The cave was closed because the elevator was being repaired, so we didn’t get to go down in it. The Visitor’s Center was open, so we got to see the film and displays about the cave. It has HUNDREDS of miles of tunnels and they are still exploring. It’s one of the largest caves in the world!
E. Crazy Horse Memorial
Initially conceived by Chief Henry Standing Bear, he said, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes also.”
Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski took on the project. He said, “By carving Crazy Horse, if I can give back to the Indian some of his pride and create a means to keep alive his culture and heritage, my life will have been worthwhile.” Korczak designed the mountain carving and worked on it for 36 years until his death in 1982.
The face was completed in June, 1998 and is 87 feet high. They are working out the outstretched arm (263 feet). The horse’s head will be 219 feet high (22 stories). When complete it will be the largest mountain sculpture in the world.
F. Wrinkled Rock Trailhead, Norbeck Wildlife Preserve
After a long day, we finally settled in for the night at the Wrinkled Rock Trailhead in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve.