Friday, September 16, 2011

Bear Lodge a.k.a. Devil's Tower

We woke up to our last day here in Sundance, WY with heavy dense fog. We were going to stay home all day but then decided to head over to Spearfish. Sparky needed a haircut and some groceries, so off we went. We remember Spearfish from last year, when we did the Spearfish Canyon Scenic drive, and Sparky went to see the coolest art gallery ever--The Termesphere Gallery, by artist Dick Termes. The drive back on a rural road to his gallery is well worth it. If you are ever in Spearfish, S.D., go see this marvelous gallery that is like being in another galaxy! A very talented artist...And Spearfish is a beautiful town. There is a fantastic scenic drive through Spearfish Canyon that is a must see, also.

After we returned from getting what we needed, we headed out to Devil's Tower, also known as Bear Lodge, one of the most popular native American names for this special place. On our way there, we checked out the Vore Buffalo Jump. This is a natural sinkhole used as a bison trap by native Americans from 1500-1800. You can't see any bones or anything when you look at the site from above, but it's still one of the most important archeological sites dating to the Late Prehistoric Plains Indians. There is a building at the bottom of the site to protect it from vandalism and to expand future excavations. Estimates are that the bones of more than 15,000 bison are in this pit, along with tons of artifacts and tools.....The tiny visitor's center was not open, so we just looked into the huge pit, saw the building at the bottom (built to protect and expand the excavation site) and left.....
Devil's Tower or Bear Lodge
Here's what we really hoped to see today (photo above)....Bear Lodge or Devil's Tower, named by the white man....

This is the nation's first historical monument. It is a sacred place to many Indian tribes, and unfortunately, we haven't done much to protect the heritage of this amazing geological formation....It's considered a premier rock climbing and crack climbing site. No, it's not a "hot spot" for smoking stuff that's really bad for you...Crack climbing afficionados climb without ropes, using their body to jam themselves or parts of themselves into just the cracks to make their way to the top. We have discarded the native American's wishes to keep this place a sacred place for them, despite signs otherwise....After seeing the importance of this site, and the evidence of prayer bundles and gifts left in the forest surrounding the base, it sort of made me feel like anyone who climbs this would be sort of like defacing a church or a cathedral. That might sound a little extreme, after all, it's just a piece of huge rock, but the history and legends and feelings of a people who were here long before we were, deserve a little more respect. Why isn't it called Bear Lodge, it's most common original name, for example? Just another sad piece of American history and the treatment of its early peoples, in my humble opinion.

Here is an explanation of how important this area is to the native people that lived here...I feel it is better said than I could say in my own words.....

I love the native legends and stories that have been handed down from generation to generation about how the earth was formed. Here's one about the red rock formations that you see coming up to the tower on the drive in....

It was a VERY dreary, cold, dark day, but the red rock canyons and the Bear Lodge formation were really something to see....
By the time we walked the one trail around the base of the tower, it was getting dark and time to head home. We were glad to see a lot of deer in the nearby woods and campground as we were coming back out the drive. There were THREE bucks in the woods and one with a really huge rack--Eldy said possibly a 14 pointer, but it was too hard to catch a photo of them..I did manage to get one photo of some does...I never get tired of seeing wildlife the way nature intended us to see them.....

We are at the Broken Arrow Campground, 4 miles from the city of Custer and very close to Custer State Park...we're excited to get back to this area again. The park is 21.50 a night for full hookups and free wi-fi. There are a LOT of horses here, it's known for its equestrian friendly atmosphere, but smells and flies are not a problem!  Of course, it's only 37 degrees here right now, but reviews have stated they do a terrific job of keeping the area clean and hospitable to non-horse owners. The sites are pull thrus, roomy and spacious.  We'll be here for three more days, and can't wait to get started exploring Custer State Park. This is a jumping off point for the Needles (more amazing geological formations), some terrific scenic drives, Mt. Rushmore, and lots lots more......See you later......Sparky and Eldo


  1. ahhh, i use to live in Rapid City in the early 70's so it will be fun revisiting many of my favorite sights along with you...

  2. Why we can't respect the differences between cultures and live harmoniously is beyond me. Is it so hard to respect the wishes of others? So sad.

  3. Thanks for taking us along to this beautiful place.

  4. I, too, feel Bear Lodge is a sacred place.

  5. Great blog Jeannie! I'm with you all the way on the sadness of our disrespect. Really glad you got to go out and see it.

  6. First visit...We received your email asking us (WheresWeaver) several questions but I don't know how to get back to you. Could you please email us again with an email address and I will answer all your questions about the chair and sofa.
    Your blog is very good! I love the pictures. We hope to be up that way next August. Thanks for the sightseeing tour!