Our first stop in Wyoming was a couple of nights at Keyhole State Park
for the purpose of visiting Devils Tower National Monument
. Just 23 miles due south of Devils Tower, Keyhole Lake is a worthy stopover itself. It's got 10 different campgrounds, all the water sports you could possibly want, plus wildlife and birding galore.
|The cloud show our first evening was spectacular...and brought us a good inch of rain overnight.|
|Early the next morning we spotted a couple dozen pronghorns grazing in the meadow across from the campground.|
|We took the good dirt road North from Keyhole through beautiful Wyoming countryside.|
Devil's Tower could be seen in the distance once we gained a tiny bit of elevation.
Bear Lodge was one of many Native American names for the imposing tower of igneous rock (a laccolith, just like Bear Butte in my last post
), but like many sites important to American Indians, a white man reported a different name to his superiors and that name stuck: Devils Tower.
About 50 million years ago molten magma was forced into sedimentary rock but then cooled under ground. As it cooled the magma contracted and fractured into columns. Over millions of years the sedimentary deposits eroded and exposed this amazing geological feature. The tower rises 867 feet from its base and the diameter of its base is 1,000 feet.
|We started our visit by taking the paved 1.3 mile Tower Trail around the base.|
Even the rubble field is impressive!
|People have been climbing the tower since 1893.|
|Every angle of this imposing laccolith takes ones breath away.|
|The columnar fragments are striking too.|
|This little guy was busy gathering mouthfuls of grass and carrying them up a tree.|
Back at the beginning of the paved trail we discovered dozens of people about to start the loop...making us really glad we had done the easy trail first (we started about 8:30 am)! Next we took the outer loop, Red Beds Trail, a 2.8 mile natural surface trail with a fair amount of ups and downs.
|Lots of this going on, every single view of the tower is stunning!|
|This is why the trail is called Red Beds...|
The Spearfish Formation, composed of dark red sandstone and maroon siltstone,
was laid down in a shallow sea 225 to 195 million years ago.
The Belle Fourche River winds past the dramatic red bluffs.
Leaving the main Monument parking lot we saw a little side road leading to the Joyner Ridge Trail. Though we did not hike the entire loop, we took advantage of a perfectly placed bench on the trail to enjoy lunch with a spectacular view.
|View from Joyner Ridge.|
|The Monument from Joyner Ridge.|
Keyhole State Park was a beautiful and peaceful place to stay away from the hordes of people who visit Devil's Tower. Only one of the 10 campgrounds in the park has hookups. Tatanka campground has electric and water hookups and the sites are nicely separated. Each site has a picnic table and fire pit. We had excellent Verizon signal. All sites in Tatanka are reservable.
The other nine campgrounds in the State Park have dry campsites, each with a picnic table and fire pit. Some are reservable, some are first come first serve. There are some really fabulous waterfront sites scattered throughout the dry campgrounds. All campgrounds have pit toilets. The private marina located in the park has showers.
|Our site: #21 in Tatanka campground.|
We only had a neighbor on one side, and that site was a decent distance away.
|One of the fabulous dry sites available in another campground at Keyhole State Park.|