SD Badlands & Devil's Tower, WY

The Badlands of South Dakota lies between the Black Hills on the west and the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands on the east. Part of the Badlands is a national park and also includes part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the Badlands National Wilderness Area. The Grasslands feature the Prairie Dog, A mammal that makes warning sounds that sound like a dog and lives in large colonies in underground burrows.

The entire area is a geology wonderland with the Badlands alone occupying over 200,000 acres of rich fossils and rock structures. Campgrounds, hotels and even some small towns make it possible to spend a lot of time here. Unfortunately I had only about an hour before the sun set on my way to Colorado.

SD Badlands
SD Badlands
SD Badlands
SD Badlands

Devil's Tower
Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming is a short drive northwest of the Black Hills. The tower rises over 1200 feet above the surrounding prairie and is the source of much folk lore, including the setting for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a movie about direct physical encounters with intelligent life from outer space.

The tower is igneous rock and some believe it to be the remnant of a volcanic neck. As the hot igneous magma cooled, it shrinks like almost every other physical thing. The cooling caused vertical cracks tat leave the remaining stone in columns or pillars. As weathering causes the rock to break away a tallus pile is formed at the base of the tower. From a distance the tower obscures it's true size. The photo below gives a better idea of the size - those "dots" are full size humans climbing the tower. Devil's Tower is one of the most popular climbing sites in the United States. If you plan to climb it contact the National Park Service (website above) for regulations and permits.


Devil's Tower Devil's Tower
Devil's Tower
Devil's Tower

 
  The photos below show more of the talus pile. Admission to the monument allows access to the entire tower, including a walking path of more than one mile around the entire tower. If you are going to the area, plan a little extra time for the hike and to check out the rock formations.
Devil's Tower
Devil's Tower


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