American Northwest Trip, 2017: Wyoming Scenic Drive

These photos are from my long drive across the entire state of Wyoming from Yellowstone to Deadwood, South Dakota, a roughly ten-hour drive counting stops and other delays. The road trip began with a scenic drive out of Yellowstone via the East Entrance (first photo), followed by a gorgeous drive through Shoshone National Forest (middle nine photos).

After a stop in Cody for dinner and a visit to an Old West town, I got back on the road and spent hours as frequently the only car on a flat, single-lane highway—the kind of seemingly deserted road you see in the movies. I passed by myriad ranches and their large, wooden entry gates, as well as numerous oil derricks. For a moment I was concerned that I might have to drive through major cities during rush hour, but then I remembered I was in Wyoming, where there’s no such thing as a major city.

I was beginning to think that the rest of the drive through Wyoming would be mostly flat and uninteresting—until I hit Bighorn National Forest (the last four photos). What a stunning drive that was, up and down a mountain range through spectacular scenery. It’s a shame I only had time to stop for a few photos (ones that don’t do it justice) because I literally could have stopped every hundred feet. It’s an area that demands a return visit some day just to spend more time basking in its breathtaking scenery.

If you ever find yourself driving through Wyoming, I highly recommend leaving the freeway and taking a drive along Highway 14 through these amazing national forests.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Devils Tower

A lifelong dream sparked by Close Encounters of the Third Kind was finally realized when I visited Devils Tower last August–40 years (and many plates of sculpted mashed potatoes) after I first saw the tower on film. Alas, I didn’t find any facilities for hosting spaceships during my hike around its base, but had I made my visit two days later, I could have enjoyed a 40th anniversary screening of Close Encounters at the base of the tower itself. That would have been an amazing experience.

Devils Tower is a sacred site to Native Americans. You can find prayer offerings tied to the trees around the base of the tower (I included a photo of one of these below). Native American names for the monument include “Bear’s House” or “Bear’s Lodge” and it is likely that the name “Devils Tower” came from a mistranslation of the Lakota word for “bear.”

A couple of the closeup shots below feature climbers scaling the tower. Pretty soon, climbing will no longer be necessary because, according to a sign I saw at the site, they are apparently installing an elevator to the top. Although it would be neat to see the top of the tower, I think it’s unfortunate that they are going to ruin its appearance with an elevator apparatus. I’m glad that I was able to see Devils Tower in all its natural glory before this happens.

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