Both were out of the way a bit but definitely worth the journey. After leaving North Dakota we headed south and west to reach the other-worldly Devils Tower. Teddy Roosevelt’s first national monument in 1906 has been attracting crowds for centuries.
A sacred place for native Americans and a draw for climbers since the first summit in 1893, Devils Tower is a geologic wonder.
We walked the easy Tower Trail around the monument and watched climbers high up on the cliffs. Can you see them on the photo above? The views of the surrounding pine forests and distant grasslands were also pretty cool from the trail.
It was a short visit. You can see it in an afternoon unless you plan on climbing. We stayed at the KOA just outside the monument and had great views of the tower from our campsite. The Devils Tower KOA screens Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind each evening in its outdoor theater. The movie was filmed on the grounds of the KOA in the 1970s. We watched the show and realized neither of us remembered seeing it in its entirety before.
After getting our passport stamp at Devils Tower we headed south to visit another of Steve’s childhood memories. The Greens visited Northwest Nebraska’s Fort Robinson State Park in the late 70s.
Steve says the park hadn’t changed much but we were impressed with how the historic site has been maintained and preserved. The campground was a great base from which to explore the fort that saw Indian wars including the death of Crazy Horse, a WWII German POW camp, and years and years of family reunions in the old officer’s quarters.
The park has a ton of hiking/biking/riding trails which we really enjoyed. As you know, we don’t pass up a good trail!
The free Thursday night rodeo was a kick. And we couldn’t miss the chuck wagon dinner, which Steve and his family also enjoyed years ago. The bison stew and cornbread is the same but now the wagon is powered by a truck instead of horses.
Being back in Nebraska gave Steve an opportunity to enjoy one of his favorite treats, a Runza. He says they order these meat pies at Cornhusker football games and holding it keeps your hands warm until halftime.
While both Devils Tower and Fort Robinson may be new destinations for many people, we highly recommend both.
On our way home from our two month adventure we stopped in Colorado to visit two sets of dear friends. In Fort Collins we connected with the Shoemakers for breakfast. Susan and I worked together at the City of Phoenix back in the 90s, and her family is very special. It was great to spend time with Susan, Russ, Steve, Rachel, Griffin, and Fletcher.
In Denver we spent a few days with Sam and his family. We all go back many, many years, and it’s always fun to hang out with this crowd. In fact, we even left for home with a stowaway…Sam is riding to Arizona with us to hang out for a little longer.
As we close this trip out and prepare for the next, we feel super grateful for the opportunity to explore at our own pace and in our own way. This summer we covered nine states and four national parks, staying in twenty three different campgrounds. It was a fun summer, and the best part was connecting with family and friends along the way.
We are now preparing for our next journey, and we’d love to see more friends and family along the way. If you want to join us on the road, we’d love to have you!