When riding to Devils Tower, Wyoming for your “close encounter of the third kind,” you will have a short and easy ride of about one hour from Spearfish. However, I am sure like everyone else, you will stop when you reach the sign “entering Wyoming.” Of course, at that point, you run to the other side of the road to take a picture with the sign reading “entering South Dakota.” So, chances are it will take more than hour. But, the good news is it is easy riding along I-90.
When you arrive at Devils Tower, know that you don’t have to go inside the park and pay the $5 fee for motorcycles or $10 fee for automobiles. You can take great pictures from the parking lots adjacent to the road. There are days that the entrance is free but that is limited to Martin Luther King Day on January 18, National Park Week (April 16-24) National Park Service Birthday (August 25- 28), National Public Lands Day (September 24) and Veteran’s Day (November 11).
If you are doing a cross country trip, I would suggest getting a National Parks Pass which is eighty dollars and will cover the entrance to all National Parks. If you are over the age of sixty-two, the annual pass is ten dollars plus fifty percent off on all amenities such as camping.
Prior to entering Devils Tower, you have the Devils Tower Trading Post in case you have any missing supplies or wish to grab a bite to eat. It is also a great spot to take a photo of your ride with the trading post and Devils Tower in the background.
There is also camping at the KOA Campground with great view of Devils Tower. The campground even has nightly showings of Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounter of the Third Kind.” Had I known that and also realized that the Stanley Hotel is in Estes Park, I would have watched there “The Shining” and then spend a night at Devils Tower and watch “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” That would have been legendary! There is also a post office onsite which would be cool to send postcards to all your friends that are missing out.
Devils Tower rises 1,267 feet above the surrounding terrain so you have a great view from every angle. It was the first designated National Monument in 1906 by then President Theodore Roosevelt. For the more adventurous, you can climb Devils Tower or you can walk the trails but not with pets. The trail is paved.
Keep in mind that Devils Tower is considered sacred by many Native American tribes, including the Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Lakota. During the month of June, Native American’s conduct ceremonies around Devils Tower. Thus, if you see cloths left behind, do not touch it out of respect for the Native Americans.
Leaving Devils Tower, ride east on WY-24. You will come across the town of Hulett, Wyoming which is the perfect stop for lunch or a cold beer. Hulett looks like a town straight out of the wild west, untouched by time. Business names are simple: “cafe,” “saloon,” and “bank.”
During the Sturgis Rally, there will be street side vendors selling everything from lunch to Sturgis merchandise which you will find at prices cheaper than in downtown Sturgis. In 2012, we stopped at the “Saloon” for a burger and a beer. The ceiling was full of folded dollar bills jammed into bullet holes from a time that once was. A time when cowboys roamed the land and a bar fight or a poker game ended in a shootout.
Continuing through WY-24, you will come across the town of Aladdin, population fifteen, where you can fuel up for gas. Upon re-entering South Dakota, the road will become SD-34E which will lead you to Belle Fourche, the geographic center of the United States.
Enjoy your “close encounter of the third kind.”