Red Beds Trail & Devils Tower National Monument

14826416_10211003557228783_1814504064_n

There’s more to seeing Devils Tower than the paved walking path around the base of the rocky giant. (Which I highly recommend, by the way). The Tower Trail is just part of the overall experience. When you visit our country’s first national monument, spend some time there and get to know the area – hiking trails, landscape and all.

Red Beds Trail was the last hike on my 2016 bucket list. On October 22nd, my daughter and I set out on the 2.8 mile loop. The path winds through the trees and opens up into grassland, leading away from and around the tower, offering incredible views from all sides. Each angle is as beautiful as the next.  There’s an endless variety of vegetation and great opportunities to see wildlife. We came upon a small herd of five white-tails and watched three of them stand neck-to-neck, grooming each other. Something I had never seen before.

Around the halfway mark, the landscape changes from grass and sage, to low, red bluffs and hard, red dirt. Then, the trail climbs upward, back into the trees. From one of the highest points is a spectacular view of the Belle Fourche River Valley. We sat on the sandstone, and for the longest time didn’t even speak.  We just took it all in. The view, the afternoon sun and the sound of the autumn wind moving through the trees.

Half a mile later, we were back among the oaks that lined the parking lot. We made a quick stop into the visitor center for a refresher course on the monument’s history and headed back down14825580_10211002983774447_1405006011_n the road. But, before we left the park, we spotted more wildlife. The prairie dogs!

The fat and furry rodents kept us entertained for nearly an hour. We sat in the gravel, along the roadside and shot dozens of pictures.  It was easy to tell that they’ve been fed by many a visitor (which is prohibited) because they’re not shy about coming close to see if you have any treats to offer. That, in combination with their curiosity, allowed us to capture some fun images.

It was a good day. And for us, proof that quality mother/daughter time is spent on the trail – not at the mall.