Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Trip Report Tuesday // SD & WY Trip Day 2 | Devils Tower & Waterfalls throughout Spearfish Canyon

Welcome back to another edition of Trip Report Tuesday!  Thank you to the sweet readers & friends who have sent such kind comments and messages regarding me revisiting this blogging series!  Knowing that you're enjoying these trip reports makes it so much more fun to share with you here!  

Today's post will cover our adventures into Wyoming to visit a Natural Monument and will conclude with waterfalls that took my breath away.  Day two deets coming right up!

South Dakota & Wyoming Trip 2021

Day 2 - Thursday, June 17, 2021

I visited Wyoming as a child, but this was the first time the rest of my family would step foot in this gorgeous state.  There's something about visiting a new place that brings with it such excitement and wonder.  Although, this wasn't my first visit, it had been a good 30+ years since I'd been here, so it felt nearly new to me too!

Almost immediately upon approaching and crossing over from the South Dakota border into Wyoming, the landscape changed a bit.  We were met with beautiful wide open spaces, tree covered hills and orange dirt mounds that my youngest dubbed the "Cheeto dust hills".

Even though Aladdin is tied with Tangled for my all-time favorite animated flick, we resisted visiting him and kept on course to Devils Tower. ;)

Here was our first glimpse of Devils Tower.  It's huge and can be seen from miles away!

My sweet husband slowed to a stop at a pull off spot along side the road here and said he thought I'd like to take some pictures.  He knows and loves me well.  These are the sort of thoughtful little things that make my heart sing. 

Almost there!

I love tree lined roads.

U.S.A. & Wyoming flags greeted us as we made our way to the National Monument.

My oldest daughter commented on how this stretch of road with these hills reminded her of Radiator Springs (from Disney's Cars and Cars Land in Disney's California Adventure Park).  I totally agree!

Tower Trail

We walked the 1.3 mile Tower Trail that begins in the visitor center parking lot and takes you around the base of the monument, offering picturesque views from various vantage points around the perimeter of the Tower.

I thought it was so interesting how different the Tower looked from different sections of the trail.  Here are some of my favorite shots of it from various sections of our hike.

The first half of the trail required a steady uphill trek, so I requested a couple bench breaks which were great opportunities for taking in the view and snapping a family selfie or two!

This sign read:

Tower Life

Look long enough and the Tower comes to life.  Animals follow the vegetation into the boulders to find food and refuge.  Signs are all around you - deer tracks crisscrossing the trail, ponderosa pine bark stripped by porcupines, woodpecker holes in trees.  At home on the Tower, chipmunks scamper up and down columns.  Rock doves fly from lodges.  Turkey vultures soar above the Tower.

Least chipmunks can be seen during the day scampering about the boulders and ponderosa pines.  Their favorite foods include berries, seeds, and insects.  

Occasionally, golden eagles and bald eagles can be seen during the winter months.

Porcupines venture out at night to feed.  During the summer, they enjoy buds, leaves, fruits, and roots.  In winter, they eats twigs and the inner bark (cambium) of the ponderosa pine trees.

The top of the Tower is rounded rather than flat.  It is approximately the size of a football field.  Climbers share the grassy summit with woodrats, mice, ants an occasional snake.

This sign read:

Fire Ecology

As you walk around the Tower you see trees scarred by fire.  Fire plays a natural role in the growth cycle in ponderosa pine forests.  The thick bark of mature trees protects them from low-burning, fast moving fires.

People have suppressed fire here for more than 100 years.  Without regular fires, fuels accumulate to hazardous levels.  Fires then burn very hot and long, killing mature trees and seeds.  A forest may take hundreds of years to recover from such a fire.  

My loves taking in the Tower

Due to Covid-19 procedures only so many people were allowed into the Visitor Center with gift shop at any given time.  My youngest and I decided to walk back to our vehicle to grab cold drinks for our family from the cooler while the other half of the family waited in line.  Once reunited we all sipped in the shade as they welcomed a few people inside as others exited.  When it was our turn to shop we picked out our favorite souvenirs to collect from each new spot we visit on vacations, a magnet for our fridge and an ornament for a Christmas tree.  I also picked up a simple coin with the Tower on one side and a prairie dog on the other.  Starting with my trip to Europe the summer after I graduated high school I began collecting "special coins", everything from the currency of other countries to cute keepsakes like this one.  Our oldest daughter added a cute bracelet to her jewelry collection here and my littlest love found an adorable plush that you'll spot in the photos below.

Visiting the Prairie Dogs

Seeing prairie dogs throughout our travels was one of Little One's faves of this trip, so naturally I couldn't resist picking up this sweet life size prairie dog plush for her.  I also couldn't pass up a cute snapshot of her posing near the prairie pups with it. :)

Picnic Lunch in Spearfish Canyon Near Roughlock Falls

Normally when we vacation in South Dakota we stay in Keystone, home of Mt. Rushmore.  During a handful of such trips we've taken a day trip to Spearfish Canyon to picnic by the lovely Roughlock Falls.  This vacation we spent the first two nights in Savoy which is located right in the heart of Spearfish Canyon.  In fact, we've passed by the lodge we stayed at this trip many times over the years and I've always said I'd like to stay there someday.  I'm thankful that we had the opportunity to do so this time around.  It exceeded my expectations!  All that being said, the Spearfish Canyon Lodge is on the same road as our longtime beloved picnic spot!  We literally could've walked there from our room, but being that we'd grabbed food along the drive back from Devils Tower we continued on in our vehicle and made our way to this cozy table beside Spearfish Creek.

We picnicked at our traditional table and the pics below show the view near it.

After lunch the girls kicked off their shoes and put their pretty feet in the freezing cold fresh water.  Do you think I'd join them?

I absolutely did!  It was so cold that it was nearly numbing, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat!  Memories like these with loved ones are priceless!

Soon we slipped our shoes back on and walked the path to Roughlock Falls. 

I didn't capture this portion of the falls very well this trip, so I'm inserting just a couple shots here that I took in the summer of 2019 solely for the purpose of showing you the gorgeousness of  the falls in a wider shot that may give you a better glimpse at the beauty.

Now, back to photos from the current trip. ;)

We had such a nice time walking around the falls and sitting a spell to admire the view here.  It was much easier parting from this pretty place knowing that we would still be enjoying the same sweet stream of beautiful water flowing on down by our resort too!

Back at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge

After returning to the lodge Little One and I sat beside the stretch of Spearfish Creek there and rested a bit before the adventures of the evening.

Having this beautiful view right there where we were staying these two nights was incredible!  I can hardly wait to return someday!

Spearfish Falls Trail 

As evening approached we headed over to Spearfish Falls Trail.  We'd never explored this trail before and it was just across the street from the lodge!

This wildflower lined path was so pretty that I remember saying to my oldest, "How is this place even real?"  It was such a lovely and peaceful path.

I almost felt like we were in California for a minute as we stood in the midst of these trees that seemed to endlessly stretch skyward.

Now for my favorite sight of the entire vacation, Spearfish Falls.  It was dazzling!  As we approached the falls we saw a bride and groom who had just tied the knot in this beautiful spot!  It was so sweet to see, and I can completely understand why they chose this lovely location!

Next we drove to another new-to-us waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls.

Bridal Veil Falls

After driving away from Bridal Veil Falls Jason pulled over at another spot he noticed me admiring the day before.  Seriously, friends, he is the best!

This was the little bridge that I thought was the cutest thing.  I didn't get a very good shot of it, but seeing this photo still makes my heart happy as it reminds me that my Lovey drove here, pulled off and parked, then to took a stroll with me just to get a better look at this cute scene.  He makes my heart light!

Dinner at Roughlock Lounge in Spearfish Canyon Lodge

Little One loved the cheesy pizza we sampled here the night before so much that she requested we get it once more.  We happily obliged and ate at the lodge our last evening there.

A yummy margarita is my vacation beverage of choice and Jason ordered himself a Moscow Mule.  Cheers to one of the best Thursdays ever.

After dinner my oldest decided to head back to the room for the night while the rest of us made our way outside to relax creekside.  The weather was perfection!  Back home it hit 103 degrees on this particular day.  Meanwhile the temps here were 20 degrees cooler, in the low 80s!  So nice!  We definitely didn't take the comfortable coolness for granted.

The reflections on the creek were so lovely during this time of day.

We ended the evening beneath cotton candy clouds.  It was a day thoroughly enjoyed and now fondly remembered.  A sweet blessing from God Who is abundantly kind to bless us far beyond what we deserve!

Thank you for spending part of your day here with me!  I invite you to join me here again next week - same time, same place for more Midwestern adventures.  I'll be covering our hike to a Friendship Tower created in honor of a former president and the hotel we spent the remainder of our trip in, where our patio had a view of Mount Rushmore!  I can hardly wait to revisit those memories and recap them here for you!  

Question of the Day:

If you could hop inside one of these photos, as Burt and Mary Poppins would a chalk drawing, which would you choose?  

I'd love to hear where you'd like to go, leave your answer in the comment section below!

In case you missed it, you may also be interested in:

Trip Report Tuesday // South Dakota & Wyoming Trip 2021 Day 1

1 comment:

  1. I haven't been to these places but now I think I should add them to my list! The falls are gorgeous and I love waterfalls so much. I remember seeing prairie dogs in SD when I was there, they are so cute! What a great trip for you all!


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