YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Old Faithful
Old Faithful

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

If I had to pick one word to describe Yellowstone, it would be diverse. It has everything you could ask for in a national park: animals, canyons, fishing, geysers, hiking trails, hot springs, lakes, mountains, rivers, and waterfalls, to name a few.

At more than 2.2 million acres, the park is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. There are 466 miles of road, 310 miles of which are paved. The main road is called the Grand Loop, consisting of an upper loop and a lower loop. The Grand Loops closely resembles a figure eight. The entire Grand Loop is 142 miles long, with numerous side roads and pull offs along the way. There are five entrances to Yellowstone: the north entrance from Gardiner, MT, and the northeast entrance from Silver Gate and Cooke City, MT, intersect with the upper loop. The south entrance from Jackson Hole, WY, the east entrance from Cody, WY, and the west entrance from Island Park, ID, all connect with the lower loop. The north entrance is the only entrance to the park that is open year-round.

Currently there is a five or six mile stretch of road construction underway between Mammoth Hot Springs and the Norris Geyer Basin, with delays of up to 30 minutes. The pavement in this section has been removed, and only one lane is open at all times. It rained off and on all day on May 24th, the day we arrived in Gardiner, so our Jeep got filthy driving through the construction zone the following day.

There are also several other closures either currently in effect, or that will go into effect soon, so keep these in mind if you plan to visit the park this summer:

  • The Brink of Upper Falls will be closed from July 2018 through the summer of 2019.
  • Inspiration Point and Inspiration Point Road are closed for reconstruction. Expected completion date is July 2018.
  • The North Rim Trail is closed between Cascade Falls and the Brink of Lower Falls, and between Grand View Point and Inspiration Point. During this closure you will not be able to walk the entire North Rim Trail. There is no data available for when these portions of the trail will reopen.
  • Uncle Tom’s Point and Parking Area, Uncle Tom’s Trail (the stairs), and the entire South Rim Trail are closed for reconstruction: expected completion date is July 2018.

We didn’t mind some of the trails being closed, but it was annoying dealing with the road construction. Rather than drive through the mud and sit still for long periods of time, we took the eastern side of the upper loop back to the north entrance each time we visited the park. The eastern side of the upper loop is 16 miles longer than the western side, and under normal circumstances, takes an additional 45 minutes to drive. But given the extreme delays in the construction area, not to mention the mud and the ruts, we decided we’d rather be moving than sitting still and getting splattered with mud.

Driving through Yellowstone requires keen observation skills and infinite patience. While some animals, such as wolves, are more likely to be seen during dawn and dusk, you never know when you might spot a pack. One surefire way of knowing if animals are around is to see a large crowd of people standing on the side of the road, and cars parked haphazardly alongside the roadway.

Bears and wolves seemed to draw the most attention on each of the five days we visited the park, but people will stop in the middle of the road to take pictures of elk or bison, heedless of the fact they are blocking traffic. Harry swears some folks will stop if they see a large rock off in the distance.

Elk are the most abundant species of mammals in the park, but you see a lot of bison too. Bison and buffalo are often used interchangeably, but it is not correct to do so. There are no buffalo in North America, only American bison. Yellowstone has the largest herd of bison on public land. The bison population varies, ranging from 2,300 to 5,500 animals. The bison at Yellowstone are divided into two subpopulations, based are where they breed: The northern herd breeds in the Lamar Valley and on the surrounding high plateaus. The central herd breeds in Hayden Valley. The bison think nothing of crossing the street, stopping traffic in both directions. We’ve seen as many as fifteen cross the road, one right after another, taking their sweet time. It’s like sitting at a railroad crossing waiting for the last car to rumble past.

Old Faithful is the most popular attraction at Yellowstone, but ironically, it is not the tallest geyser in the park. That honor is bestowed on Steamboat Geyser, the tallest geyser in the world. Steamboat is known to eject a column of water 300 feet or more into the air, whereas the average height of one of Old Faithful’s eruptions is 145 feet. Old Faithful, the first geyser named in the park, earned its moniker because its eruptions are highly predictable. It erups every 60-90 minutes on average. Up until March 15 of this year, the last time Steamboat erupted was in 2014. For some inexplicable reason, Steamboat, which is located in the Norris Geyser Basin, has erupted a total of seven times this year. The last eruption occurred on May 27. Naturally, we missed it.

If you asked a dozen people what their favorite thing is about Yellowstone, I expect you’d get seven or eight different answers. Harry liked the animals and the geysers best, but for me, it was the mountains and the waterfalls. There are over 100 waterfalls in Yellowstone, and we have only seen a fraction of them so far. The roadside waterfalls are easy to view, but many of the falls require a trek in the woods to see. We only made it to one waterfall—Wraith Falls—that required a half-mile hike. We had to navigate a muddy trail and traverse a small creek to reach a footbridge at the bottom of the falls, and then climb some steps to get to the top of the falls. It wasn’t the highest or the prettiest waterfall we’ve seen by a long shot, but it was definitely worth seeing. Wraith Falls earned its name because of its ghost-like appearance.

Yellowstone was once referred to as Wonderland. Even Theodore Roosevelt used the term when he dedicated the eponymous Roosevelt Arch on April 24, 1903. Roosevelt said in part: “Nowhere else in any civilized country is there to be found such a tract of veritable wonderland made accessible to all visitors, where at the same time not only the scenery of the wilderness, but the wild creatures of the park are scrupulously preserved…”

The comparison of Yellowstone to Wonderland dates back to 1885, when the Northern Pacific Railway took advantage of the popularity of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, launching an ad campaign that presented Yellowstone as America’s “New Wonderland.”

I could wax philosophic about Yellowstone until you were bored to tears, but to be perfectly honest, you have to see it for yourself to truly appreciate the beauty of our nation’s first national park. It truly is a wonderland.

Note:  We spent ten days at Rocky Mountain RV Park in Gardiner, MT. We have stayed at countless RV parks on our way to Gardiner, but Rocky Mountain was our favorite. It is a family-owned and operated campground. The owners are a young couple, very friendly and outgoing. They live on site, and are quick to react to any problems you might incur. The park is nicely landscaped, well maintained, and very peaceful and quiet. The views of the mountains are breathtaking. The restrooms and laundry room are spotless, and the rates are extremely affordable considering the park is only four blocks from Yellowstone’s north entrance. We paid $46.00 per night from May 24-31, and $59.00 per night for June 1-2. Our Good Sam membership afforded us a 10% discount off these rates. The campground is within easy walking distance of local restaurants and shops. We would definitely stay there again should our travels bring us back to Gardiner. 

Absaroka Range
Absaroka Mountain Range

 

Undine Falls
Undine Falls
Wraith Falls
Wraith Falls
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Bison grazing by the side of the road
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Elk lounging around in the Mammoth Hot Springs historic district
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Pronghorn
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Black bear. I took this shot from the car while we were stopped in traffic

THE ROOSEVELT ARCH

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Friday, May 25, 2018

After bidding adieu to Garryowen on Wednesday, we drove the short distance to Billings to run some errands. We still had one day to kill before we were scheduled to be in Gardiner, Montana, so we spent the night at Sam’s Club. It was way better than Wally Docking. We hit the road early the next morning, pointing our motorhome toward Gardiner, at the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park.

As we topped the last hill on U.S. Route 89, before entering the town of Gardiner, we caught our first glimpse of the iconic fifty-foot tall Roosevelt Arch, the original entrance to the park. Yellowstone was established as the world’s first national park in 1872. Gardiner served as the main gateway to the park. Due to Yellowstone’s remote location, the park only received about a 1,000 visitors annually during its first few years in operation.

Tourism exploded after the Northern Pacific Railway reached Livingston, Montana. Soon afterward, the Northern Pacific added a spur to Cinnabar, a few miles north of Gardiner. From there, people traveled by horse-drawn carriages to the park. In 1902, the trains reached Gardiner. Passengers boarded stagecoaches to continue their trip through the park.

The idea behind the arch is said to have been the brainchild of Hiram M. Chittenden of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. He felt the approach to the park was barren and lacked visual flair. Gardiner had just built a beautiful train depot in the rustic architectural style, and both park administrators and townspeople agreed that something was needed to improve the dusty staging area.

Construction on the soaring edifice of native columnar basalt began on February 19, 1903. It was positioned to face the train depot. On April 24, Gardiner had its big day with the laying of the arch’s cornerstone. It was pure happenstance that President Theodore Roosevelt had planned a two-week vacation to the park to coincide with the laying of the cornerstone. The arch was not originally intended to honor Roosevelt, but the decision was made to name the arch after him when he was asked to help dedicate it.

A canister was arranged by local Masons and placed inside the arch during the dedication ceremony. The canister, which is now known as a time capsule, is said to contain a Bible, a picture of Roosevelt, Masonic documents, local newspapers, U.S. coins, and a copy of the World’s Almanac dated 1903, among other items.

The side of the arch that faces Gardiner is embellished with three ornamental tablets molded entirely with concrete. The largest tablet sits above the crown of the arch. It reads: FOR THE BENEFIT AND ENJOYMENT OF THE PEOPLE. It is an extract from the Act creating Yellowstone National Park. The tablet on the left tower is inscribed with the words: YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, and the one on the right tower reads: CREATED BY ACT OF CONGRESS MARCH 1, 1872.

It was gloomy this morning when we set out to visit Yellowstone. Our first stop was to view the arch, a popular attraction for visitors entering the park through the north entrance. I waited impatiently for people and cars to leave so I could take pictures of the icon without any impediments. Though rustic in design, the arch is striking against the stark landscape. To the east, Electric Peak, the sixth highest mountain in Yellowstone, stands sentinel over the arch’s right flank. Still capped with snow at the brink of June, the peak is nearly as captivating as the arch. But as beautiful as the mountain is, my eyes were riveted on the arch. Don’t get me wrong—Old Faithful, Hayden Valley, and even the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone are spectacular, but there is something about the simplicity of the Roosevelt Arch that outshines them all.

Roosevelt never returned to Yellowstone to see his namesake completed. But you can still see the cornerstone on your right as you pass through the historic arch from Gardiner. The stone is more squarely finished than the surrounding stones, and is inscribed with the date “Apr 24 1903.” If you ever visit Gardiner, I encourage you to take a moment to admire the foundation stone Roosevelt laid 115 years ago. Although nondescript, it is still a remarkable piece of history.

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Tablet on left tower

 

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Tablet on right tower
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Cornerstone laid by President Theodore Roosevelt

CUSTER’S LAST STAND

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Granite memorial erected by the War Department on Last Stand Hill in 1881

Sunday, May 22, 2018

We left Devils Tower yesterday and arrived at the 7th Ranch RV Park in Garryowen, Montana, later that afternoon. The 7th Ranch is the closest campground to Little Bighorn National Monument. The campground is very nice, but the half-mile gravel washboard road you have to drive on to reach the park is horrible. For that matter alone, we would never stay there again.

It rained most of the night, but this morning dawned sunny and clear. It promised to be a hot day, so we set off early to visit Little Bighorn. The Monument was created on January 29, 1879, to preserve the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn, near Crow Agency, Montana.

On July 25, 1876, Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, along with 262 men of the 7th U.S. Calvary, including Indian scouts and civilians, were killed while engaging with the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians along the Little Bighorn River. Custer and his entire battalion, consisting of five companies—were wiped out, purportedly in less than an hour. The majority of the other six companies, three detailed to Major Marcus Reno, and three detailed to Captain Frederick Benteen, survived the conflict.

Initially, the dead were buried in shallow graves where they fell, their burial plots marked with wooden tipi poles collected from the abandoned Indian village. In 1877, the remains of Custer and many of the officers were reinterred at various locations in the eastern United States. Custer’s remains were reinterred at West Point, New York. In 1881, the War Department erected a granite memorial on Last Stand Hill. The remains of soldiers and attached personnel were reinterred in a mass grave around the base of the monument. In 1890, Army personnel erected white marble markers at each soldier’s original gravesite.

There are numerous headstones on Last Stand Hill. Custer’s tombstone stands out from the others because it has a black background shield. Both his brevetted rank of Major General and his permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel are listed on the headstone. Although Custer was not allowed to wear the insignia of his brevetted rank, his men still referred to him as General.

So who is to blame for this tragedy? Custer, who failed to wait for reinforcements, and for dividing his battalion into three columns instead of keeping all of his men together? General Alfred Terry, for telling Custer to depart from his orders if Custer saw sufficient reason, and then subsequently blaming Custer for failing to adhere to his plan? The government, for stating in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie that the Great Sioux Reservation included the Black Hills, and then later reneging on the treaty after gold was discovered in the region in 1874?

Personally, I think all three parties were at fault. Custer was known for his rashness; Terry’s plan was weak: the village’s exact location was not known, thus precluding a coordinated attack; and the government wanted the gold to help stimulate the precarious economy. The only problem with the latter was the Indians had a signed treaty stating the Black Hills belonged to them. Some people in the government considered buying the Black Hills from from the Lakota Sioux, but the Indians did not want to sell. Ultimately, Red Cloud, one of the most important leaders of the Oglala Lakota, and Spotted Tail, the Brulé Lakota chief, believing they had no other choice, since the whites would take what they wanted anyway, agreed to sell the Black Hills to the United States for $70 million. The United States refused. To make a long story short, negotiations broke down, and the government decided to maintain that the Indians had invalidated the treaty and devised a plan to drive them off their land.

When all was said and done, and the official reports were written, Custer was made the scapegoat. Why not blame the dead man, who was not there to defend himself? But regardless of who was responsible for the lives that were lost that hot, dusty Sunday afternoon in late June, the fact remains that 262 men died, and six others later subcommand to their wounds. So instead of pointing fingers, I think we should pay homage to those men who paid the ultimate price that horrific day.

Note: I have decided to discontinue my reviews of campgrounds due to the amount of time it takes to write both the blog post and the campground review for each place we visit. However, if anyone is interested in information on any of the campgrounds where we stayed, just enter a comment and I will be happy to provide you with details.

 

 

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Headstones on Last Stand Hill. The headstone directly in front of Custer’s is his brother, Tom’s
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Headstone of Custer’s brother, Boston, a civilian
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Some of the horses were killed and used for breastworks during the battle
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Grave of Captain James Sturgis, son of Lt. Colonel Samuel D. Sturgis, for whom Sturgis, South Dakota was named

DEVILS TOWER KOA – DEVILS TOWER, WYOMING

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View from our campsite

DEVILS TOWER KOA – DEVILS TOWER, WYOMING

This was your typical KOA, with sites crammed closely together. But we didn’t come for the ambience or the amenities, but rather the campground’s close proximity to Devils Tower National Monument. And when you consider the striking views of the iconic tower, this campground cannot be beat.

Facility: 3/5

The sites are grass, and very close together. The roads are all gravel. Our pull thru site was too short to park our Jeep in front of the motorhome, so we had to parallel park. We barely had enough room to get the car off the road. All the sites near us were basically the same. The parking lot is large, though, and you can easily unhook your toad there.

Restrooms: 5/5

There are two bathhouses at the campground. The showers looked as if they’d recently been renovated, and they were gorgeous. There was shiny new tile and fixtures, and everything was sparkling clean. 

Amenities: 5/5

The campground features an outdoor heated pool, a playground, a nightly hayride, and a nightly viewing of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The laundry facilities were nice and clean.

Location: 5/5

You can see the entrance to the monument from the KOA’s parking lot. 

Pet Friendly: 5/5

The campground is pet friendly, and there was a small fenced in area for dogs.

Overall Rating: 4.6

Summary: If you’re looking for a campground close to Devil’s Tower, you cannot get any closer than this KOA, unless you stay at the Belle Fourche River Campground inside Devils Tower National Monument. It is a dry campground that costs $20.00 per night. Max. RV length is 35 feet. Our site at KOA was $46.79 plus tax with our KOA membership discount.

Cell Phone Signal: We were only able to get two bars with both AT&T and Verizon.

Conclusion: Would we stay at Devils Tower KOA again? Yes, if we decide to visit the tower again.

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Our campsite
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Typical campsite
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Playground
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Greenspace

THE NATION’S FIRST NATIONAL MONUMENT

Devils Tower
Our first glimpse of Devils Tower

Monday, May 21, 2018

When we got home from Deadwood on Saturday, we had the mother of all hailstorms. It lasted almost forty-five minutes, and the temperature dropped dramatically. Tuesday was windy and cold, so we decided to skip our planned trip to Lead and Spearfish and stay inside where it was warm. Here’s hoping for better weather on our way home, so we can visit the places we missed along the way.

We left Sturgis yesterday and drove to Devils Tower, Wyoming. As we approached the entrance to Devils Tower National Monument from WY-24E, the tower suddenly popped up from out of nowhere against a backdrop of pine forest merging with rolling plains. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and it was one of the most amazing sights we’ve seen on this trip so far.

Scientists initially thought Devils Tower was the core of an ancient volcano. However, recent data has determined it is an igneous intrusion, which is a a formation in which molten magma was forced into sedimentary rocks above it and cooled underground. As the magma cooled, it contracted and fractured into columns.

Devils Tower stands 867 feet from base to summit, rising 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. The base of the tower is roughly a mile in circumference. A 1.25-mile trail encircles the base. The face of the butte is fluted like a massive column, standing in stark relief against the sky.

People come from all around the world to climb this unique wonder. We saw several dozen climbers on the tower while we were there, tiny specks of color—red and blue and yellow and chartreuse—nearly invisible to the naked eye—free climbing up the sheer face of the butte.

The tower is sacred to many of the Northern Plains Indians and indigenous people. Bear Lodge is one of many Indian names for Devils Tower, which is a direct translation of the Lakota name Mato Tipila. It is the site of ceremonial rituals, including sun dances, sweat lodges, and prayer and artifact offerings.There is a voluntary climbing mortorium in June, out of respect for their traditions and beliefs.

The name “Devils Tower” originated in 1875, when Colonel Richard Irving Dodge led geologist Walter P. Jenney’s scientific expedition through the Black Hills region to confirm claims of gold, first started by Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer. The name was incorrectly translated as “Bad God’s Tower,” which was amended to “Devil’s Tower.” A clerical error resulted in the omission of the apostrophe, thus the name became Devils Tower.

In popular culture the tower is associated with Steven Spielberg’s 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Who doesn’t remember the iconic scene from the film when Richard Dryefuss’s character made a model of Devils Tower out of mashed potatoes?

On September 24, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt, by authority of the Antiquities Act, proclaimed Devils Tower to be the first National Monument. Roosevelt, who loved the American West, made Dodge’s translation the official name of the eerily splendid rock formation.

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Climber
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The base of the monument
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Valley below Devils Tower with the Belle Fourche River in the background
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We are in no danger of winning a selfie contest

DAYS END CAMPGROUND & RV PARK — STURGIS, SOUTH DAKOTA

IMG_1466 (1)This is one of those campgrounds where I wish we’d looked before we booked. The rates are reasonable—we paid $28.50 plus tax per night—and they are located right off I-90, but the place is pretty rundown. I think the owners main clientele are constructions workers and the attendees of the annual Sturgis Rally.

Facility: 2.5/5

The sites are grass, and very close together. The roads are all gravel. There is no designated place to unhook your toad, and our back in site was too short to park our Jeep in front of the motorhome, so we had to parallel park. We barely had enough room to get the car off the road. Our site was within about 15 feet of an access road, so we were serenaded with road noise, mostly motorcycles, all night long. The campground does have one thing going for it: gorgeous views of the hills on one side of the property.

Restrooms: 2.5/5

There are two bathhouses at the campground, but they weren’t what you’d call spotless. The power for the bathhouse nearest our campsite operated on generator power. Harry likes to use the bathhouses so he can take a long, hot shower, but the generator shutoff while he was in the shower and the lights went out. The water started getting cold very quickly. He was not a happy camper. 

Amenities: 2.5/5

The laundry facilities are located between the restrooms, but they were nothing to write home about. The campground offers free WIFI and cable, but the WIFI was extremely slow, even though we were very close to the office. We did not use the cable. There is a large metal building near the back of the campground, which is referred to as the “Beer Garden.” There were about twenty Porta Potties located next the Beer Garden, and it looked like the owners were gearing up for the rally. The entire back section is set up for tent camping. Since there were no tent campers there during our stay, it looked like gorgeous greenspace.

Location: 5/5

The campground is conveniently located close to Deadwood, Lead, and Spearfish. As far as Sturgis goes, there is nothing to see in the town other than a small motorcycle museum, which wasn’t all that great. 

Pet Friendly: 5/5

The campground is pet friendly, and there was a small area designated for walking your pets.

Overall Rating: 3.5

Summary: If you’re looking for an inexpensive place to stay overnight and don’t get stuck on a site near the access road, this isn’t a bad place to stay. I wouldn’t make this a vacation destination, though, unless you plan to attend the rally.

Cell Phone Signal: We were able to get four bars with both AT&T and Verizon. Ironic that we got our best cell phone service at the worst campground we’ve stayed at so far.

Conclusion: Would we stay at Days End again? Yes, but only for an overnight stay, and if we were far away from the access road.

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Our campsite
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Beer Garden
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Tent sites

THE END OF THE LINE

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Trailhead for Mickelson Trail in Deadwood

 

Friday, May 18, 2018

We arrived in Sturgis yesterday afternoon. There isn’t much to this town if you’re not into motorcycles, but the campground where we’re staying is convenient to I-90, and Sturgis is close to some of the places we want to see in this area.

Today. we visited Deadwood, South Dakota, where Wild Bill Hickok was murdered on August 2, 1876. Deadwood is the end of the line for the George S. Mickelson Trail as well as the Burlington Northern line that ran from Edgemont, SD to Deadwood. Some of the original tracks can be seen on the side of the trail as well as a railroad switch, which enabled trains to be moved from one track to another. A machine shop with huge doors still stands not far from the trailhead, and tracks run all the way up to the building and presumably inside.

For those of you who were fans of HBO’s original series Deadwood, you may be surprised to learn that some of the characters from the show were actual people from Deadwood’s early days. Seth Bullock was the first sheriff of Deadwood. Al Swearengen owned the Gem Theatre, which was basically a brothel, E.B. Farnum owned the general store, Sol Star was Bullock’s business partner. The pair owned a hardware store in Deadwood. Charlie Utter was Wild Bill Hickok’s friend and companion.

I’m beginning to think that history is not much different than the six degrees of separation theory, which states that any person on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. For instance, there is a sculpture of Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood sculpted by Korczak Ziolkowski, who designed the Crazy Horse Monument. Ziolkowski also worked for Gutzon Borglum briefly on the Mount Rushmore monument.

And speaking of Mount Rushmore, Seth Bullock and Theodore Roosevelt were good friends. There is conflicting information as to what year the pair actually met, but both men agreed it was when Bullock was a deputy sheriff of Medora, North Dakota, and Roosevelt was a deputy sheriff of Billings County, North Dakota. Bullock was in the process of bringing a horse thief named Crazy Steve into custody on the range when he encountered Roosevelt for the first time. The pair quickly formed a friendship that would last until Roosevelt’s death on January 6, 1919. Bullock died less than nine months later.

Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock, are all buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood. The cemetery sits high on a mountain overlooking the town. Wild Bill was originally buried at Ingleside Cemetery, downhill from Mount Moriah. In the 1880s, it was determined that the land where Ingleside was located could be better used for housing. Most of the bodies were moved up the mountain to Mount Moriah and reinterred.

After Roosevelt’s death, Bullock and the Society of the Black Hills Pioneers built a thirty-one foot tower known as Friendship Tower on Sheep Mountain (later renamed Mount Roosevelt) as a memorial to Bullock’s friend. Bullock died a few months after the tower’s dedication. Before his death, Bullock requested that he be buried high above Mount Moriah on a plot of ground facing Mount Roosevelt. Bullock’s grave rises about 750 feet above the main portion of the cemetery. Harry and I climbed the steep path (gasp, gasp) to see Bullock’s grave. Later that afternoon, we hiked the half-mile path to Friendship Tower atop the 5,690-foot summit of Mount Roosevelt.

We were too tired from the exertion of climbing two steep paths to ride our bikes on the Mickelson Trail in Deadwood, so we took a walk on the trail instead. This section of the trail was paved with asphalt. We only walked about a quarter of a mile, so I’m not sure how far the pavement went, but from what I’ve read, the only section of the trail  that is paved is within the city limits of Custer, SD. I guess it just goes to prove you can’t believe everything you read.

The saloons and brothels that once stood on Main Street in Deadwood have given way to restaurants, souvenir shops and casinos. Even the Bullock Hotel, the first hotel built in Deadwood, boasts a casino. Seth Bullock and Sol Star built the hotel, after their hardware store burned down in 1894.

I cannot help but wonder what Bullock and the other early settlers of Deadwood would think of their little town now.

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Sculpture of Wild Bill Hickock
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Wild Bill Hickock’s grave
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Calamity Jane’s grave
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Seth Bullock’s grave
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View of Mt. Roosevelt from Seth Bullock’s grave
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Friendship Tower on Mt. Roosevelt
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Railroad switch
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Deadwood sign near Mickelson trailhead. You cannot tell it from the photo, but the picture is in relief.
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The end of the line for the Mickelson Trail