Devil's Tower, The Badlands, and the Strange Case of Mr. Burro and the Mysterious Dog

My destination this day was Badlands National Park, which was located well east of where I was staying in Hot Springs, South Dakota. So naturally, I chose to drive west and north all the way to Devil's Tower National Monument first. What can I say I'm a big Close Encounters of the Third Kind fan.

Wyoming, driving north up Route 85

I started out at dawn, driving west on Route 18 through Edgemont, South Dakota and made the long descent out of the heights of the Black Hills on to the flat plains shining golden in the morning sun topped by endless sky the color of Robin's eggs.

Driving north up Route 85, Wyoming.

It was all really beautiful and idyllic until I stopped at the rest stop at Mule Creek Junction before turning north on Route 85. I lifted a lid on a toilet and hundreds of flies poured out of it like a scene from a bad horror flick. Needless to say I was back on the road very quickly.

The Devil's Tower

Devil's Tower is an igneous inclusion made of crystallized magma that rises 1,267 feet seemingly out of no where. It is sacred to twenty Native American nations. Theodore Roosevelt named it the first U.S. National Monument in 1906. Coming over the rise of a hill and laying eyes on this monstrosity of polyhedral stone for the first time is awe inspiring.

The Devil's Tower

I walked the trail that circumnavigates the tower, marveling at its crystal structure and the brave people climbing it. At least 13 people were scaling its heights while I was there. And in the burnt woods surround this rock behemoth, white tailed deer wandered by and red squirrels gathering pine cones did acrobatic tricks down the trail in front of me.

Black Tailed Prairie Dog

This prairie dog has a secret to share with you.

From here I headed east all the way to Wall, South Dakota home of Wall Drug Store, which you can't miss because there are so many signs pointing you in the right direction. The signs can be found from Montana to Minnesota. This is a classic America tourist trap that is a must stop for travelers. It's a huge shopping complex that started back in 1931 as a drug store that offered free ice water to travelers coming through the Badlands. You can still get free ice water there, by the way. You can buy just about anything there too. And of course, get your photo taken with a jackalope if you so choose. I recommend the maple donuts. The sugar rush they will inspire will have you hiking briskly through the Badlands rather blithely. And possibly bring on an attack of alliteration as well.

Me with Jackalope

From here I headed to where I was staying in Interior, South Dakota, home to ninety four, yes, ninety-four people. To get there I had to drive through part of Badlands National Park. I don't know why the sudden appearance of the Badlands shocked me so but it did. It was like entering an abandoned alien city sculpted by giant termites.

I drove south and then west again to find Circle View Ranch. This is where I'd spend the next three nights. The ranch is located on top of a butte. You have to drive up a steep escarpment to get to the bed and breakfast and guest house there. And that is what I did. Then things got really interesting.

I drove up to the guest house and was greeted by two female burros. Then suddenly they turned their heads and there was loud braying and Mr. Burro greeted me by chasing me onto the deck and nearly coming inside with me (I soon discovered he likes to look in the windows and bray loudly at anything that moves.) I got inside to find a dog. A very nice dog. Apparently he was not supposed to be inside the guest house but he was no fool. There was air conditioning. He adopted me while I was here. He quickly me trained to let him in and out on request. Soon I discovered a calf wandering around too but she was harmless. The rooster on the other hand was making it look like a chicken porno out there in the pasture.

And then the sky started doing spectacular things as the sun lowered in the sky. I had arrived in paradise.

Notice where the driveway goes.
The two burros greeting me at the guest house.

The two burros outside the guest house.

What is that braying in the distance?
Also notice the edge of the butte. The bed & breakfast and guest house are perched on its edge.

Mr. Burro chased me up onto the deck of the guest house.

The dog that adopted me.

The view from the guest house.

Chickens with a hint of the hills of the Badlands in the distance.

Where eggs and baby chickens come from.

Brief rain shower over the Badlands.