Wyoming's Black Hills

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Devils Tower National Monument

The tower itself is an igneous monolith that stretches some 1,200 feet (roughly four football fields) above the plains. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt made it AmericaÕs very first national monument. The favored explanation for its creation is that Devils Tower was formed as a ŌstockÕ, which is a column of molten magma, and then cooled to become the rock type phonolite porphyry. It began, geologists believe, under layers of sedimentary sandstone beneath an inland sea. As the waters receded, the softer sediment was eroded and eventually revealed the dense, hard column we see today. As the magma cooled, it became crystalline, leaving the long vertical columns that give it such a distinct personality. A sacred site to more than twenty Northern Plains tribes, it is known to the Cheyenne, Lakota and Crow as Bear Lodge (as is the mountain range surrounding it). The Arapaho call it the BearÕs Tipi, and the Kiowa know it as Tree Rock. Five great Sioux leaders – Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Gall, and Spotted Tail – once came here together to worship and fast. And the Lakota traditionally held a Sun Dance beneath Matȟ— Th’pila around the summer solstice each June. It was here on the north face of the tower that they kept their most sacred object, the White Buffalo Calf pipe. And the stream that flows by its base, known today as the Belle Fourche, has long been known in Native culture as the Sun Dance River. There are several Lakota and other cultural legends regarding the formation of Bear Lodge, which visitors can discover during a visit to the information center and gift shop. There are also large souvenir shops just outside the gates, one of which is located in a KOA campground.

The Devils Tower Natural History Association operates the nonprofit bookstore inside the park. This is a group of workers that is dedicated to Ņsupporting the historical, educational and interpretive activities of the National Park ServiceÓ. They have done    and still do – a great deal to augment your experience here. To become part of the effort, or to support their work with a donation, visit DTNHA online at devilstowernha.org.

At an elevation of 5,112 feet, the summit of Devils Tower dominates the landscape and defines WyomingÕs Black Hills for visitors. The park that houses the Monument encompasses 1,347 acres and hosts about 400,000 people visitors a year. The tower has been widely featured in popular culture, most notably as a location in the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

In 2016, a 7-day non-commercial vehicle pass runs $10, and a motorcycle pass (one rider) is $5. A 7-day individual permit is also $5 (on foot or bicycle), unless you are 15 or younger: then itÕs free. There is some camping at the Monument (fifty sites at $12 a day). A hike around the base can be a little stressful for people with physical challenges, especially in hot weather, but most visitors have no problem and the experience is memorable.

Getting to the Tower takes about thirty minutes from Sundance. Take Exit 185 from I-90 just west of town, and follow Hwy 14 to Carlisle Junction (look for the Crook County Saloon on your right). Take a right on Hwy 24 to the Tower. And if you start in Belle Fourche, take Hwy 34 at the south end of town by the golf course and go to Aladdin, then keep going straight on Hwy 24 through Hulett to the Tower.

192 Highway 110, Devils Tower, WY 82714

(307) 467-5283

 

Aladdin General Store

The state tourism departments says that this is Ņthe best preserved of WyomingÕs five remaining 19th-century mercantile stores, and itÕs been amassing inventory since 1896Ó. For antique buffs, pickers and history enthusiasts, this is a step back in time. ThereÕs nothing modern here: it has the feel of a rural community meeting place, which is exactly what it has been for more than a century. ItÕs musty, dusty and, well, charming. The inventory covers everything from groceries to liquor, souvenirs, antiques, new gift items, clothing, jewelryÉ even a functioning Post Office. DonÕt miss the upstairs. The store also sells snacks and cold drinks.

4001 Hwy 24, Aladdin WY 82710

(307) 896-2226

 

Bearlodge Ranger District

This outdoor recreation jewel includes the north half of the Black Hills on the Wyoming side, and encompasses about 170,000 acres. According to the Sundance Chamber of Commerce, it Ņboasts miles and miles of un-crowded trails with breathtaking views for the hiker, mountain biker or horseback rider.Ó Permits are required for motorized vehicles, hunting and fishing. There are Forest Service campgrounds near Sundance at Cook Lake, Reuter, and the Sundance Trailhead. According to trails.com, Ņthe Sundance Trails can be accessed 4 miles north of Sundance from Forest Road 838. Another access point is located 3.5 miles north of Sundance from the Government Valley Road. The loop starts out on good double track road for 1.4 miles and then drops onto a single track constructed specifically for mountain biking. After nearly 4.5 miles, it joins an old double track for approximately 2 miles. The final 1.2 miles are on good double track road.Ó

Click on this link to download off-road guidelines

 

 

Vore Buffalo Jump

This is one of the most important archaeological sites of the late-prehistoric plains Indians. Discovered during the construction of Highway I-90 in the early 1970s, the site is a natural sinkhole that was used as a bison trap from about 1500 to 1800 A.D. Buffalo were driven over the edge as a method for the tribes to procure large quantities of meat and hides needed to survive harsh prairie winters. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The site is located on the I-90 frontage road between Exits 199 and 205. There is a small fee. (307) 266-9530

 

Inyan Kara Mountain

This 6,368 foot peak can only be reached by crossing private property with permission. To find out how to gain that, call the Ranger Station (307-283-1361).

Inyan Kara (Gatherer of Rocks) has high significance for Lakota culture, and is on the National Register for Historic Places. General Custer stopped here in 1874, the year his party discovered gold in the Black Hills. ItÕs on the west side of Hwy 585, halfway between Sundance and Four Corners.

 

Crook County Museum and the

1875 Art Gallery

Located in historic downtown Sundance, visitors can have a seat at the Sundance KidÕs trial (this was the only place he ever did time – 18 months for hoss thievinÕ). There is an impressive gun collection, a well-stocked bookstore, and fabulous dioramas featuring Devils Tower, the Custer Expedition, the Vore Buffalo Jump, and AmericaÕs first experimental nuclear power plant. The site also houses the 1875 Art gallery, which focuses on local art, pottery and custom jewelry. Admission to both is free.

309 Cleveland, Sundance WY 82729

(307) 283-3666

 

The Golf Club at Devils Tower

ŅKnown for its scenic beauty, awesome changes in elevations, lush fairways and smooth putting greens.Ó Recognized as one of AmericaÕs Top Facilities by the National Golf Foundation, and in 2007 it was honored as one of Golf DigestÕs ŌBest New CoursesÕ.Ó ThereÕs a full restaurant and accommodations. Hulett airport info.

75 Tower View Dr., Hulett, WY 82720

(307) 467-5773

 

Keyhole State Park

Known for its birds, both migratory and native (about 225 species), the park centers on a 14,720 acre reservoir with a marina and a public boat launch. There are walleye, Northern pike, smallmouth bass and even catfish in the lake. The park also has nine campgrounds with 170+ sites, and the map shows a motel which is probably run by the marina (307-756-9529) although there doesnÕt seem to be a website for it. The easiest way to get there is to go north at Exit 165 on I-90. ThereÕs a playground, some camping cabins, a store and even a bar that serves burgers. ThereÕs great fishing and swimming.

22 Marina Road, Moorcroft WY 82721

(307) 756-3591

 

Hulett Museum and Art Gallery

Featuring both prehistoric and historic artifacts, the museum and art gallery is home to Ņhighly regarded local talent, well-known Western artists, archeological finds, paleontology pieces and Native American cultureÓ. This is a vibrant, eclectic collection and a wonderful window on the disparate elements that make Wyoming what it is. Admission is free and donations are accepted. A surprising gem in a small town (population about 400), this venue is recommended by the Wyoming Tourism Board.

115 Hwy 24, Hulett WY 82720

(307) 467-5292

 

The West Texas Trail Museum

The heart and soul of this cattle trail community, the museum tells the stories of ranchers, settlers, trains and teepees. Originally a railway depot, the town took off in the early 1890s with the establishment of a saloon on what was the Texas cattle trail. Ranching still drives the culture, but oil, gas and coal have made a huge impact in recent decades. Teddy Roosevelt stopped here on a whistle stop tour, and tourists have been dropping by for over a century on their way to Yellowstone and the Black Hills.

100 E Weston St, Moorcroft WY 82721

(307) 756-9300

 

The Anna Miller Museum

Relive the Old West in this museum that was built in the 1930s as a WPA project for the 115th Cavalry of the Wyoming National Guard. The hand-hewn sandstone blocks were quarried in nearby Salt Creek. This building originally had a tack room, stables and the sergeantÕs quarters, which all now house exhibits.

The museum was named after Anna Cecelia McMoran Miller, the widow of Sheriff Billy Miller who was killed in the last Indian battle in this area. She was NewcastleÕs first librarian, a pioneer schoolteacher and school superintendent.

The complex also houses a rural one-room schoolhouse and a homesteaderÕs house plus the 1875 Jenney Stockade cabin, Ōthe oldest existing building of the Black Hills gold rushÕ, which was also a stage station along the Cheyenne to Deadwood trail.

401 Delaware, Newcastle WY 82701

(307) 746-4188

 

The Red Onion Museum

Walter ŅJarboÓ Poulson owned and operated the Red Onion Saloon in Upton for many years, and during prohibition he moved it to the barn on his property, which he named the Red Onion Ranch. The museum exhibits photos of the saloon and Jarbo, plus artifacts associated with Native Americans, early homesteaders, local military personnel – and prints of the renowned artist Dave Paulley. A fixture in Western art, Paulley works in nearby Osage and his Western Wings Gallery can be visited online.

729 Birch St, Upton WY 82730

(307) 468-2672

 

Newcastle Country Club

The 9-hole course runs 3,167 from the longest tees and is par 36. The course rating is 35.6 and it has a slope rating of 113. It opened in 1966.

2302 W Main St, Newcastle, WY 82701

(307) 746-2639

 

Cedar Pines Golf Course

This 9-hole course is 26 miles south of Upton on Hwy 116. The clubhouse has a full bar and restaurant, and the course runs 2,995 yards from the longest tees. ItÕs a par 36. ThereÕs a driving range and putting area. Fees are minimal: call for tee times.

2579 Hwy 116, Upton WY 82730

(307) 468-2847

 

Upton Old Town

On the northwest corner of the town on Hwy 16, Old Town is a collection of log cabins and outbuildings, a sod house, sheep wagons and farm wagons that give one a very realistic feel for what life was like here more than a century ago. Also included are a blacksmithÕs shop, the old fire hall, an icehouse and even a brothel (not operational!).

Highway 16, Upton, WY 82730

 

Rogues Gallery Old West Antiques

This gallery, art studio and museum features Ņthe Black Hills largest selection of 19th century Plains Indian Beadwork and Old West collectables. The museum displays and sells hundreds of items like rare American Indian weapons, old cowboy spurs, guns and relics from the battle of Little Big HornÓ. Artwork by Bob Coronato includes oil paintings and original Chine Colle (a special printmaking technique) etchings featuring cowboys, ranching and American Indian life.

155 Main St, Hulett WY 82720

(307) 467-5849

 

Devils Tower Climbing

Located at Devils Tower Lodge B&B, this is an expertly staffed, certified and insured guide service and climbing school with a low 1:1 or 1:2 student to instructor ratio.

34 Hwy 110, Devils Tower, WY 82714

(307) 467-5267

 

Devils Tower Trading Post

Hot air balloon rides, Post Office, general store, souvenirs, lunch and dinner.

57 Hwy 110, Devils Tower, WY 82714

307-467-5295

 

Devils Tower KOA

Rated Ōthe best campground between Chicago and YellowstoneÓ by the Chicago Tribune, this really is a unique place. ItÕs located almost at the base of the tower, along the banks of the Belle Fourche River. There are two types of cabins – larger ones that sleep six and have a full kitchen, bathe and deck, and one-room cabins that sit right on the river and have fire rings and picnic tables. There is a 40-acre tent site, plus pull-through sites and full hook-ups for RVs too. ThereÕs a pool, playground, nightly hayride, huge gift shop, and a game room among other amenities. Plus, they play the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind outdoors every night, as some of it was filmed here. ThereÕs a full restaurant, free WiFi, an ATM and propane, and the grocery store sells wine, beer and spirits.

60 Hwy 110, Devils Tower, WY 82714

(307) 467-5395

 

Coffee Cup Fuel Stop

This is a full service truck stop with a large convenience store that has a nice gift/souvenir section. ItÕs about halfway between Sundance and Gillette (and weÕre mentioning it because bikers might not make it back to camp on fuel reserve without stopping!)

506 E Converse, Moorcroft, WY 82721

(307) 756-3493

 

Country Cottage Gifts

If youÕre staying with friends or relatives and need to bring something, this flower and gift shop has gourmet and fruit baskets, cards, candles and chocolates. (Stores like this are few and far between in northeast Wyoming.)

423 E Cleveland, Sundance WY 82729

(307) 283-2450

 

Devils Tower View

This family-owned campground, gift shop and affordable restaurant (with buffalo burgers and beer) is located 3 miles from Devils Tower and offers spectacular views of the monument. Day camping and outdoor dining are available, both overlooking Campstool Canyon. The gift shop features work by local artisans, and also Wyoming made products.

476 Why 24, Devils Tower WY 82714

(307) 467-5737

 

Hulett Festivals

The Hulett Rodeo is the second weekend in June. ThereÕs a fireworks show at Devils Tower KOA on July 4th. The Duck Derby is in July. The Ham ŌN Jam festival is the Wednesday of the Sturgis rally. Ride a Horse, Feed a Cowboy is held in September with live music, branding, a poker tournament and a rodeo.

219 Why 24, Hulett WY 82720

(307) 467-5771

 

Stateline Station

This convenience store and gas station with a Post Office has a nice selection of souvenirs. ItÕs a pretty spot with picnic tables, just over the border in Wyoming, and the last gas for a while.

5930 Hwy 14, Beulah WY 82712

(307) 643-2185

 

Ranch A Education Center

This is an historic lodge built by Finnish craftsmen in the 1930s that is currently used as a group retreat. ThereÕs a meeting area, kitchen and accommodation for 48. The drive there, straight south of Beulah, is quite spectacular (gravel, 5 miles). (307) 643-3101

 

Buffalo Jump Steakhouse

The original part of the building was a general store dating back to the late 1890s.  Today, the chef is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, who spent several years working at Delmonico Steakhouse for Emeril Lagasse of the Food Network

5877 Old Hwy 14, Beulah, WY 82712

(307) 643-7173

 

Mae Mae's Place, Gifts & Jewelry

This is "a cute little shop on Main Street", with lots of reasonably priced gift items such as Naked Bee lotions, Abdullah chocolates, Root candles, Montana West purses and wallets, religious merchandise, kitchen items, mugs etc. There is an entire room full of one-of-a-kind handcrafted jewelry. Coffe and tea are always free, and if you bring in a newborn child, there's a free gift.

Main St. Sundance, Wyoming, WY 82729

(307) 283-3655

 

Trails, Trains & Pioneers Museum

Not quite into Wyoming, but about five or ten minutes east of the state line is this wonderful facility which lets visitors explore petroglyphs that pre-date settlement in the Black Hills by hundreds and even thousands of years. Here, one can "experience life from the time when Calamity Jane and Wild Bill rode the stage, and when the railroad decided here would be a great stopping place. Walk where Teddy Roosevelt walked. Trace the ebb and flow of life of the Southern Black Hills from pre-historic times to the present."

Located on Main Street at Mile Marker 0 of the Mickelson Trailhead, the museum is open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hours: Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. It's also open by appointment.

603 Second Avenue, Edgemont, SD 57735

(605) 662-5858

 

   

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