During our trip to South Dakota my husband and I realized we were within a short drive from several other states. With a goal of visiting all of them together, we heard opportunity knocking and hit the road in our little rental car.
We only had a few days, which meant we wouldn’t be able to visit too many states on this trip. Wyoming was the clear winner since the drive would take us to through Sturgis (thankfully not during the famous motorcycle rally when the roads would have been completely packed!) and across the beautiful rolling hills of Northeastern Wyoming.
A quick drive through Sundance, home of the Sundance Kid, led us to the awe-inspiring Matu Tilipa, more commonly known as Devil’s Tower. The tower is a unique geological formation located smack dab in The Middle of Nowhere, Wyoming. Created from molten lava millions of years ago, the tower juts straight up out of the plains and has uniform columns running the lengths of its sides.
According to Indian legend, seven Indian girls were playing on a rock one day when they were attacked by a bear. Fearing for their lives, they prayed to the rock to help them and it responded by growing straight up out of the ground, carrying the girls to safety from their attacker. The bear, who was unable to climb the sheer sides of the tower, was unable to eat the girls but left his claw-marks embedded in the rock all around the tower. The girls were saved from the bear but were stranded on the top of the tower, eventually becoming the Pleides, or seven sisters, constellation in the night sky.
The tower is now a great place for night-time camping and star viewing. Located in the virtually empty Wyoming countryside, it is a great location to view the night starts thanks to the lack of light pollution. The nearby town of Huelett has an airport which works hard to respect the tower by having flights take off in the opposite direction from the monument.
The tower became America’s first national monument in 1906, thanks to then-president Theodore Roosevelt. He recognized the true glory of this site and realized it needed to be protected.
The tower has another legend as well, and it also includes the night sky. Lore has it that Devil’s Tower is a local landing spot for UFO’s, which is, if I must be honest, the real reason we made the trip. My husband, something of a UFO fanatic, wanted to see this one for himself (our next trip will probably be to the black mailbox outside of area 51). Made famous by the movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ UFO enthusiasts travel from all over to visit the site. In September nearby Huelett hosts the Devils Tower UFO Rendezvous Festival and Convention, complete with a parade and costume contest in homage to the tower and its alien affiliation.
Check another state off our list, thank you! We enjoyed the brief, yet awe-inspiring trip to Wyoming. I know there is much more to see in this beautiful state but we are one step closer to completing our 50-state bucket list. (And my husband enjoyed a brief commune with his alien buddies!)