On our way to the KOA at Devils Tower, we were preparing ourselves for being parked for several days out in the middle of nowhere. Somehow, everything we looked at online made it look so remote and stark. Were we ever wrong! After pulling into our spot, the first thing we each did was start taking photos of the view. I mean, with this right out your window…
The campground was gorgeous! They offer a nightly hayride (sans hay); have a large store stocked with all the necessities; Deadwood is within close driving distance; and they had a free rodeo the week we were there. So, of course the first night, we went on the hayride around the property that the KOA is on – Campstool Ranch.
The gentleman who ran the hayride gave us some history of the area. We learned that the ranch originally included the land that Devils Tower sits on. In the early 1900s the owner, who had become friends with Theodore Roosevelt, deeded Devils Tower to the US Government with the stipulation that it become the first US National Monument. The farm land that surrounds it remains a working ranch right up to today. The views were amazing!
The original Lakota and Cheyenne people who lived here called the tall stone tower, Bear Lodge. The legend varies some from culture to culture, but the story generally goes like this: “in the Lakota Sioux legend, six girls were out picking flowers when they were attacked and chased by bears. The Great Spirit felt bad for them, and raised the ground beneath their feet. The bears gave chase and attempted to climb the newly formed tower, but they couldn’t get to the top. (As the tower rose) the bears fell off, clawing (grooves in) the sides of the monolith.”
When we hiked around the base the next day, we could clearly see the claw marks,
and even the door!
And when we looked closer, we could even see climbers making their way to the top
The many Indian peoples who have lived here for centuries hold it as sacred land. As we were making our way around the trail , we saw several prayer cloths and offerings tied to the trees.
We also took advantage of the closeness to Deadwood and made a trip to the land of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.
We rounded out our stay with a night at the rodeo. What a night – and what a stay this was! After being here less than a week, we could easily see how nice it would be to spend an entire summer here. So much for getting our impression of a place from google maps.