|Looking down at our campsite while hiking along the Red Beds Trail. The Tower is behind us.|
Days 9 and 10: On the road to Devils Tower
We said goodbye to Joe and Sara Jo on the morning of Day 9 after breakfast at Heydey, which was a walk to the top of the hill from their house in Seattle. Our destination that evening was the KOA campground in Missoula, the same one we camped at on our trip out.
|First stop was in Ellensburg, WA to visit Jason White and to eat lunch at Iron Horse Brewery|
|Break from the road at Wild Horse Monument looking down at the Columbia River/Wanapum Lake|
|Completing our Idaho experience at the Crafted Tap House + Kitchen in Coeur d'Alene|
I convinced Erin that I can't really say I have visited a state until I have had both a coffee and a beer there. We had already had coffee in Idaho Falls, ID on the drive out, but we had yet to have a beer. So, we stopped for an early dinner and some beer at the Crafted Tap House + Kitchen in beautiful Coeur d'Alene where the Ironman was about to take place the next day.
By doing so, we had to forfeit any more fun time in Missoula.
We had a quick breakfast at the KOA campground before our long drive to Devils Tower the next day. There were two major stops. The first was for lunch at Bridger Brewery in Bozeman, MT.
|Oooooh! Rooftop seating? Count us in!|
|You may have to click on this picture to get the full size so you can best enjoy the mountains in the background.|
The second major stop was in Sheridan, WY at the Wyoming Rib and Chop House. I ordered and ate the best pork chop I've ever had.
|The best pork chop I have ever eaten.|
With the long stops, we knew we would be arriving at Devils Tower in the dark to set up camp. Indeed, the KOA office was already closed, but an envelope with my name on it was hanging outside with all the information we needed.
|Dusk photo of the moon and Devils Tower|
As we set up camp, other campers were watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the outdoor theater. They play the movie there every night since it is the campground where it was filmed.
Day 11: The Tower
I awoke before sunrise and enjoyed some pretty views and a cup of coffee before Erin got up. After experiencing Devils Tower, I believe we did everything right and couldn't have asked for a better time. Here are some of the things we both did and recommend:
- Stay at the KOA campground where Close Encounters was filmed.
- Get up at the crack of dawn to begin hiking, and hike from the campground along the road. You will walk past the entry station where people in vehicles will pay a fee to enter the park.
- Just a little ways beyond the bridge, turn right onto the first trail you come upon. This will take you up to the Red Beds Trail loop.
- Hike the Red Beds Trail in a clockwise fashion until you reach the Visitor Center up at the top. You will see a LOT of deer.
- Now switch to the Tower Loop and hike that in any direction you would like. You will see plenty more deer and several breathtaking views of the tower and the land beyond.
- Get back on the Red Beds Trail and continue in a clockwise fashion. The deer will start to disappear since it is getting to those peak hours of foot and vehicle traffic.
- Return to the campground and be sure and wave at all the cars that are lining up and waiting at the gate, which you so intelligently bypassed.
- Get into your car that was parked at the campground (because you camped there or because you parked their strategically) and travel home.
Devils Tower gave us plenty of opportunity for pictures. Please enjoy the several pictures and captions that follow.
|Sunrise at the KOA campground. Our new Base Camp 6 and the rental car we drove over 4000 miles.|
|The sun is so high for it being so early!!|
|There are so many different perspectives of this behemoth.|
|The steep decline from the trail away from the tower.|
|Just off the Red Beds Trail, and now on the Tower Loop|
|Coming down the back side along the Red Beds Trail.|
|In the shade of the Tower not to much after Sunrise.|
We had breakfast after our hike, and I sent out several postcards from this place. It was magical.
Then began our 11-12 hour ride home. Although it was sometime past 1:00 AM when we finally got home, we were very much ready to be there. The beds and air conditioning were appreciated on a much higher level.