Sundance, WY

(Click here for more photographs.)

Sundance is located in northeast Wyoming near the borders with Montana and South Dakota.  “The Sundance Kid” spent some time in the jail here and got his nickname from that experience.  While here we parked at the Mountain View RV Park.

Devils Tower National Monument

The Devils Tower National Monument stands 1,267 feet above the nearby Belle Fourche River.  Geologists agree that Devils Tower began as magma, or molten rock buried beneath the Earth’s surface.  What they cannot agree upon are the processes by which the magma cooled to form the Tower, or its relationship to the surrounding geology of the area.  Native American tribes in the region regarded it as a sacred place and they still come here to appeal to the spirit of the rock.  They originally called it some variation of “Bear Lodge” but a mistaken translation led to it being referred to as an evil place, thus, Devils Tower.

Native American oral history tells of 7 girls who were playing near the river when they were threatened by a bear.  They ran to climb upon a nearby rock but the bear pursued them and began to climb the rock.  The spirit of the rock, seeing their situation, began to rise up higher so that the bear could not climb it.  Eventually the rock got too high for the bear to climb and the bear gave up after leaving many scratches on the rock from its attempt.  The girls then passed up into the sky forming the Big Dipper constellation which can be seen right above the tower during the month of June.

All around the western plains you can find “buffalo jumps”.  These are cliffs or bluffs that Native Americans would use to aid in hunting buffalo (bison).  The bison would be herded over the jump and fall to their deaths.  This would allow various tribes to work together in order to capture large numbers of bison at one time.  The Vore Buffalo Jump is thought to be unique in that it is a sinkhole rather than a cliff.  The sinkhole was discovered during the construction of Interstate 90.  They have determined that this buffalo jump was used between 1500 and 1800.  This was during a time before the Native Americans had horses so that they had to organize the hunt and drive the bison on foot.  Once the bison had fallen in the sinkhole they had 5 days to butcher them and haul out the meat and skins.  Beyond that they would risk the meat going bad.  They estimate that as many as 10,000 bison were captured using this jump site.

Spearfish Canyon is one of so many beautiful places that most of us have never heard of.  It is located in western South Dakota, south of the town of Spearfish on the north side of the Black Hills.  The canyon has beautiful soaring limestone rock cliffs and tower like formations, lovely meadows and picturesque waterfalls.

Next stop:  Rapid City, SD

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