Bear Lodge, Deadwood, and the Rodeo

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.

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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!

devils tower koa

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

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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.

Deadwood collage
Karen even got a supporting role in the re-enactment of the shooting of Wild Bill.

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.

Devils tower rodeo

8 thoughts on “Bear Lodge, Deadwood, and the Rodeo

  1. We made it over to Deadwood but not Devil’s Tower. Looks interesting. Your photo with the climber really gives perspective as to how big the monolith is. Hope you toured Custer State Park and more of the Black Hills.


  2. Like Ingrid, we’ve been to Deadwood but not to Devil’s Tower. Now that several bloggers have been recently, I am itching to visit but we are heading the wrong way right now. We were on a motorcycle trip years ago in that area and not into hiking yet. Oh, well, It gives us a reason to return to the area. Thanks for the great photos. Glad you enjoyed the rodeo:)


  3. The climate looks amazing too. Are there places to swim? Rivers or lakes nearby? It seems like a really fun place to spend the summer. I’d love to visit it someday. Love the pictures, the campground really does look lovely.


  4. I agree. You can’t really tell what a place is like until you actually go there.I really enjoyed this post. It brought back fond memories of when we stayed at that KOA on our first RV trip nine years ago. I still remember how amazing it was to walk out the door of the fifth wheel and see the tower right there. It wasn’t until a few years later that we visited Deadwood and the Number 10 Saloon. Safe Travels!


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