Thursday, September 30, 2010

Devils Tower, Devils Tower, Wyoming

On the road to Devils Tower, Wyoming we traveled through a lot of fields and hills and mountains. This one sculptured mountainous area below was so pretty I had to take a picture.

Upon arriving at the KOA campground we were staying at the tower was in sight. In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt designated Devils Tower as the nation's first national monument.

The tower is 865 feet high. The tower is probably best recognized for being in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In addition,the top of the dome is 1.5 acres and the base is approximately 1,000 feet in diameter.

As you can see there are climbers on the tower. We watched them for a while climbing up and rapelling down. Approximately 5,000 climbers a year climb the rock.

At the base of the tower there is a 1.3 mile paved trail which we hiked.

Along the trail we saw the bull snake below. Not venimous but they will bite is aggrivated.

The photo below depicts 'prayer wish ribbons which are placed there by local indian tribes who consider the mountain to be sacred. The ribbons are not removed to honor them.

Below is a picture of our campsite and you can see how close our park is to the tower.

This is a picture of the tower at sunset. It is beautiful. The park also shows the movie it is famous for every night at 9 PM, weather permitting.

See ya down the road !

More sights in South Dakota

On our way to see more sights around Custer, South Dakota we stopped to have lunch at a lake and saw this cute little duck trying to sleep on this floating piece of wood.

We visited Mount Rushmore. They have a great visitors center with a movie and lots of information about how and when and by whom the beautiful carvings were created. There is no charge to visit this area but there is a $10 charge by the concessionaires to park. It is so magnificent and so much bigger than I ever imagined.

We also drove around the corner on our way to the Crazy Horse Memorial and noticed that through the trees we could see a profile of President Washington.

We drove past the Crazy Horse Memorial but did not go into the site. But I did snap this photo from a parking lot. Others said we should have gone - maybe next time !

We did go to Wind Cave National Park which is just south of Custer State Park. This park was established in 1903 and preserves a great diversity of resources including one of the renowned caves of the world. This park is the 7th oldest National Park.
Regarded as sacred by American Indians, the cave was not found by settlers until 1881, when two brothers, Jesse & Tom Bingham, heard a loud whistling noise. The sound led them to a small hole in the ground, the cave's only natural opening.

It was left to later adventurers like ALvin McDonald to follow the wind and discover the cave's extensive network of passageways containing boxwork, popcorn and frost-work formations.

About 60 million years ago, the forces that uplifted the Rocky Mountains also uplifted the modern Black Hills, producing large fractures and cracks in the overlying limestone. Over millions of years, water moving slowly through those cracks dissolved the limestome to produce the complex maze of the cave's passages.
There are over one hundred miles of passage ways that have been discovererd so far.
There are also a lot of stairs we went up and down to see the sights. But it was well worth it.

The pictures of the Gordon Stockade are below. This stockade was preserved by the state
and the picture below that is one that was re-constructed to show you exactly what they looked like and how they were lived in.

See ya down the road !

Custer State Park, Custer, S. Dakota

Beautiful Custer State Park is in the Black Hills of South Dakota. At around 17,000 acres, it is one of the largest state parks in the United States.

The park was originally established in 1912 as Custer State Forest & Game Preserve, then-Governor Peter Norbeck had a vision to create a large state park in the Black Hills that would be here for generations to come.

Jeff and I did several hikes within the park, a couple around a lake and one through a georgous prairie.

The Prairie Trail is a three mile loop through a prairie where we saw deer and bison. We also did the Stockade Lake Trail which was a 1.5 mile loop and we did the D. Sylvan Lake Shore Trail which is a one mile loop.

There is also a eighteen mile wildlife loop drive that takes you through the open grasslands and pine-speckeled hills that much of the park's wildlife call home.
We ran across some burros crossing the road and others that were just grazing nearby the road.

We also drove the Needles Highway which is approximately 14 miles - it is a spectacular drive through pine and spruce forests, meadows surrounded by birch and aspen and rugged granite mountains.

The road's name comes from the needle-like granite formations which seem to pierce the horizon along the highway.

Driving down the road, back to our campsite which was within the grounds of the park, we saw this beautiful Ram. He was grazing beside the road so we stopped for a quick look. He was about ten feet from us.

See ya down the road !

Monday, September 6, 2010

Theodore Roosevelt Nat'l Park, N. Dakota

The colorful North Dakota Badlands provides the scenic backdrop to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The little Missouri River has shaped this land which is home to a variety of plants and animals.

The site gained national park status in 1978.

In June of 1872 Lt. Colonel George Custer and 262 of his troups were killed at the Battle of little Big Horn. Visitors to the park can follow the Custer Trail Auto Tour by picking up a brochure at the visitors center.

We went out one morning to hike a trail and as we pulled into the parking lot the bison were coming down the hillside. Before we could exit the truck we were surrounded.

This big bison was just standing there looking at us and our truck. Needless to say - we did not move.

This little one was just running around staying close to his mother.

We were hiking Jones Creek trail when the picture below was taken. This trail is 3.5 miles one way.

The picture below is of the Missouri River which is behind our camping area. We walked down to cool our feet off.

The two wild horses below were just grazing on some grasses on the other side of our campground. Every day the buffalo would roam through out campsite also.

I just love the black tailed prairie dogs. They are so cute! I can't get enough of them. I'd love to take a few home - just won't want their underground tunnels around the yard though.....

See ya down the road !

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cody, Wyoming

After leaving Yellowstone National Park we headed east towards Cody, Wyoming. While there for our short visit we went to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center where we spent 5 1/2 hours roaming around all the rooms. The cost is $15 per person and well worth every penny.

We did not take pictures while inside but while there they had a tribal indian performance involving different dances and an explantation was given as to what the dances mean to the tribes. It was a beautiful show.

While in Cody we went to the Old Trail Town. It was nearby our campground and it was $8 a person to tour all the old buildings and establishments. Below is a picture of one side of the town.

There were many wagons there and also a black smith shop where repairs would have been done.

The picture below is of the Hole in the Wall Gang. This building was originally in Buffalo Creek and was built in 1883. It was a rendevous for Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and other outlaws of the region.

The building below is the actual cabin that I mentioned above.

This picture below is of the inside of one of the homesteaders cabins. They were pretty neat - if you are into the dead-animal thing.....

Here is Jeff who wanted to check out the local saloon in the Old Trail Town. There was a player piano. It is said that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were actually at that very same bar.

This is one of the general store buildings. Inside there are glass counters with a lot of the original type of items inside.

This picture below is of the actual grave and a statue of Jeremiah Johnston. The movie of his life portrayed Robert Redford in the role of Jeremiah Johnston. His body was moved there and when the burial took place the actor actually came to town to be a pall bearer.

The picture below is of a hearse that was used in the 1800's. That was one fancy ride, albeit it your last ride!

See ya down the road !

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yellowstone National Park, WY - Part: 3

The picture below is from West Thumb Geyser Basin. As you can see in the background that is Yellowstone Lake.

Yellowstone lake is at an elevation of 7733 ft. The area takes up 131.7 square miles. Average depth is about 140 feet. Maximum depth though is 410 feet. Average summer temperature of the water is 45 degrees F. This is the largest lake at this elevation in the United States.

Here I am standing at the heighest Continental Divide sign within the park boundaries.

There are two levels of this large waterfall in the park. We drove up to one segment featured in the picture below.

Then we drove to the other segment featured in the picture below this.

This area is named for the Shoshone Indians who lived in this mountainous region. Their use of the big horn sheep earned them the name of "Tukadika" or "Sheepeaters". The cliff is basalt lava that formed "columnar joints" when it cooled nearly 500,000 years ago.

The picture below is just another shot of some of the beautiful scenery within the park.

Finally, when we arrived at the Canyon Village Visitor's Center, we saw all these elk just laying around outside one of the administration buildings. I wonder how the people get in and out of there? Anyway, an unusual site to see to say the least.

Well, this concludes all of our posting on Yellowstone National Park. We just loved this park and I really wish everyone could visit it just once in their lives.

See ya down the road !