Tag Archives: Wyoming

Fun in Cheyenne, Wyoming

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Our first overnight stop on our journey back home after dropping off Miss Molly (who is doing fabulous, by the way! More on that in a future post) was Cheyenne, Wyoming. This was a perfect place to hang our hats for the night…

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Our cowboy hats!

 We were in the heart of cowboy country and everything around us reflected that. Including the hotel we called home for the night.

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When booking our hotel I simply went online looking for the best deal available in the area. This tactic sometimes fails me, but more often than not we are pleasantly surprised at how great the hotel is given the inexpensive pricetag.

This hotel was one of those experiences.

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We stayed the night at The Historic Plains Hotel in the heart of downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming.

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“Few hotels capture the history, heritage and traditions of the American West like The Historic Plains Hotel. Steeped in the frontier legends and charm of turn-of-the-century Cheyenne, WY, our beautifully restored hotel offers every travel comfort while preserving every detail of our original grandeur.

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Since 1911, we’ve been a vital part of Cheyenne’s culture and character like no other hotel. Today, we exude an authentic, local style worlds apart from the cookie-cutter branded hotels all too common these days. To stay here is to rediscover an era when travel meant something special and unexpected. Stepping into our opulent Grand Lobby, with its beautiful bisque tiling, stained glass skylight and impressive pillars, is only the beginning of a stay that will provide interest, intrigue and uniquely personal experiences at every moment.”

It was a stunning hotel…

A true feast for the eyes,

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With beautiful and historic gems hidden around every corner.

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The age of the building was especially evident in its original elevators. The woodwork and brass fixtures were stunning but the elevator itself was tiny, requiring the boys and I to take two separate trips up to our room.

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As we stood waiting for the elevator to return we saw this sign and found out the reason for the tiny elevator…

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What a hoot!

After dropping off our luggage at our home for the night, we headed over to Terry Bison Ranch…an unknown excursion I planned for the boys to be enjoyed on our trip home.

After a week of seeing thousands of Bison from the safely recommended distance posted around the national parks we visited, I thought it would be fun to get a little closer. When I read the reviews of this ranch online I knew it had to be one of our final stops on our road trip.

There were many activities offered at the ranch but I chose to sign us up for the Bison Train Tour.

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This experience takes guests on a narrated tour through the ranch, and in among the herd, on a custom built train car.

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We boarded the train and were off, learning much about Bison as we chugged along toward where the herd of Bison were grazing.

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Along the way we crossed over into Colorado, a fact that delighted Braden who was on a mission to “collect” as many visited states as he could on this trip.

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As we got closer to the herd we received the unexpected and exciting news that a baby had just been born 30 minutes earlier and we would get to see the brand new baby Bison in among the herd.

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This cinnamon colored beauty was the first thing I spotted as we drove into the heart of the Bison herd. I couldn’t take my eyes off momma and baby.

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It was a beautiful sight to behold!

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The train came to a stop in the middle of hundreds of Bison. It was a bit disarming to see them come ambling over to the train with such eager enthusiasm.

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It was clear they knew exactly what a stopped train meant…

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It was snack time!

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In the aisles of the train were five gallon buckets filled with Bison pellets and we were allowed to hang out the windows of the train car and feed these magnificent beasts.

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After two weeks of enjoying these incredible animals from a distance, we were now able to interact with them face to face, feeding them from our hands and petting their furry faces.

It was pretty incredible.

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Especially when the larger bulls came right up to our window in search of hand-outs.

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The train remained stationary for 30 minutes, giving us plenty of time to get our fill of Bison love and plenty of time for the beasts to fill their bellies…

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Then we were off. The herd hated to see us go and followed alongside the train until we exited the paddock.

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When the train returned to the station we exited and were able to walk around the ranch and enjoy some of the other animals that call Terry Bison Ranch, home.

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There was an elevated observation platform that extended above the various animal enclosures allowing us to check out the farm animals from a birds eye view.

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Then we went down to love on them face to face before heading out.

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It was such a fun experience to share with my oldest sons on our journey back home.

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Thanks. Cheyenne!

It’s been an adventure!

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Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from home!

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After leaving Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we began our long trek back to Pennsylvania. The trip home was accelerated due to Rusty needing to be back on Wednesday afternoon for his college classes. So, while we took six days to make the 2000 mile trip west, we were making that same journey home in three days. This meant most of our time was spent driving, and since I lost my one licensed driver when we dropped Molly off at school (the boys permits don’t allow driving outside the state,) I was the one putting in 12 hours of driving each day.

Book tapes and impromptu stops to see local treasures along the way made the drive manageable.

On Monday we worked our way across Wyoming, with plans to spend the night in Cheyanne. Along the way we saw signs posted about wild horses that call that area of Wyoming home. Our curiosity was peeked, so when we saw the turn off for the wild horse coral overlook, we pulled in to check it out and stretch our legs.

It was an unassuming pavilion sitting atop a hill,

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Overlooking corrals of horses in the valley below. Inside the corrals were horses of every color, young and grown, frolicking under the summer sun.

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Situated around the pavilion were information boards about the wild horses and the work that is done to manage the population, thus ensuring a healthy, thriving herd.

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Because the horses have no natural predators the herd can easily grow bigger than the environment can naturally support. So, to keep the wild horse herd at a size sustainable to the resources available to them in the area, there are yearly round-ups.

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Some of the wild horses are collected and held at the corrals as they wait to be rehomed.

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They are put up for adoption, and for a small fee, anyone who passes the vetting process can adopt one of these Wyoming wild horses.

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It is a neat conservation program and I found it fascinating to learn about as we sat and watched the horses in the valley below us.

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This was one of those unexpected, impromptu stops that make road trips such a fun adventure…

You never know what unexpected site is around the next bend!

 

Devil’s Tower

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On Thursday, after leaving the Black Hills of South Dakota, we traveled two hours west, crossing into Wyoming, for our visit to Devils Tower National Monument.

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This was another stop I was looking forward to with eager anticipation, as it is a place that holds so many fond childhood memories for me.

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I remember camping at the Devils Tower KOA and sleeping under the silhouette of that mighty monument, both in childhood and then with my family three years ago.

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I couldn’t wait to return and share the experience with Braden as well.

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As we approached,  we could see Devils Tower looming in the distance, growing larger with every mile as we approached.

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As we drove into the park we passed a prairie dog town on our way up the winding road.

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At the top of the road sat a small visitor’s center at the base of Devil’s Tower. This was our first stop.

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Stamping Ozzie’s postcard. He requested postcards from each of our stops as we traveled west to take Molly to school.

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Devils Tower:

“Devils Tower National Monument, a unique and striking geologic wonder steeped in Indian legend, is a modern day national park and climbers’ challenge. Devils Tower sits across the state line in northeast Wyoming. The Tower is a solitary, stump-shaped granite formation that looms 1,267 feet above the tree-lined Belle Fourche River Valley, like a skyscraper in the country. Once hidden below the earth’s surface, erosion has stripped away the softer rock layers revealing the Tower.

The two-square-mile park surrounding the tower was proclaimed the nation’s first national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The park is covered with pine forests, woodlands and grasslands. While visiting the park you are bound to see deer, prairie dogs and other wildlife. The mountain’s markings are the basis for Native American legend. One legend has it that a giant bear clawed the grooves into the mountainside while chasing several young Indian maidens. Known by several northern plains tribes as Bears Lodge, it is a sacred site of worship for many American Indians. Devils Tower is also remembered as the movie location for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

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The stone pillar is about 1,000 feet in diameter at the bottom and 275 feet at the top and that makes it the premier rock climbing challenge in the Black Hills.”

Then we headed out on the Tower Trail, a 1.25-mile trail that winds its way around the base of this mammoth rock.

The trail was beautiful…

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And the views were breathtaking,

Despite the cold rain that fell down upon us as we walked the trail. 

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It was a short visit of 1 1/2 hours, because of the drive that lay before us.

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10 more hours of driving until we arrive in Molly’s new college town, but I’m glad we stopped.

It is an awe-inspiring site that should be enjoyed by every traveler passing through Wyoming.

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We are getting close!

Wish this momma luck…

Friday is the big day!

Grand Tetons

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The areas around the Grand Teton mountain range and its lakes were established as a national park in 1929 in order to protect the land from commercial exploitation. The protected area was extended into the surrounding valley in 1950. Grand Teton National Park currently covers more than 310,000 acres and is located only 10 miles from Yellowstone National Park.

Located high above sea level at elevations from elevations from 6,320 to 13,770 feet, Grand Teton National Park is a diverse ecosystem with terrain ranging from summertime wildflower meadows to rushing whitewater streams. There are also numerous serene lakes with deep blue pools, echoing the stillness and color of the glaciers that shaped them. The wild and winding Snake River descends through the park in a rush of water and the dense forests blanketing the mountainsides provide habitat for a vast array of fauna and flora, with some species dating back to the prehistoric era.

Opportunities for viewing wildlife abound inside the park. It is often possible to see both grizzly and black bears, gray wolves, coyotes, bison and bald eagles. Other common sightings include pronghorns, elk and a variety of smaller mammals such as the Uinta ground squirrel.”

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Located just minutes away from the south entrance of Yellowstone is the entrance to Grand Tetons National Park. This was the next stop on our cross country journey.

As we drove into the park we were instantly transported into a very different experience from our time in Yellowstone. The crowds we smaller, the landscape far more breathtaking. We found it to be a much prettier park.

We began our visit at the visitors center where the kids picked up their junior ranger books and had our National Parks Passport book stamped.

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We stepped onto the back porch of the visitor center and were greeted with stunning views of Jackson Lake.

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Set up on the porch was a local star gazing group that were allowing the kids to look through a special telescope at the sun where they were able to view sun spots on the sun.

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They also had a station set up where the kids were able to make their own paper rockets. When they were done constructing their rockets they were allowed to set them off with air power, using an empty 2 liter bottle and a PVC pipe.

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After spending time at the visitors center we began heading south to see more of the park.

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At a friend’s recommendation we stopped at String Lake for our picnic lunch. The smell of pine was intoxicating and the views were incredible.

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After lunch we began our hike. Pictures don’t do justice to the beauty we saw while touring the Grand Tetons.  Everyone kept commenting that it looked like we were hiking in front of a green screen because the views were to stunning to be real.

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It was a perfect day. It was lovely stepping onto a dirt path and escaping into the wilderness for an afternoon.

We loved the Grand Tetons!

Next stop: Rexburg, Idaho

Yellowstone National Park

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For the last two days we have been exploring the uniquely beautiful geologic formations of Yellowstone National Park. The absence of recent blog posts has been a result of minimal internet access in the area.

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We arrived at the western side of Yellowstone at 10:00 pm, on Friday night. We had spent 10 hours getting from Devils Tower National Park to northern Wyoming where Yellowstone is situated. The long travel day was spent getting everyone caught up in school, puttering around the bus, stopping for our weekly grocery shopping trip, refilling the boys’ prescriptions and getting things in order for the next week of travel.

We woke on Saturday morning with icicles on our noses. The temperature had dropped to the 30s overnight. As the day progressed things warmed up, but not before we spotted our first snowflakes of the season, something we certainly did not expect over Labor Day weekend!

Sweatshirts were pulled out and lunched were packed and we were ready to hit the road for a day of exploration.

Everyone was excited about this stop. Being one of the more well-known national parks, the kids had a bit of an idea of what to expect here. They knew they would be seeing geysers and watching Old Faithful erupt, but they had no idea all the other unique sites we would be seeing at Yellowstone.

As we drove into the park Tyler’s first comment was,

“I love Yellowstone! It smells just like marshmallows!”

It took me a minute to follow his train of thought before I realized that what he was noting was the distinct smell of campfire, as a result of the five forest fires currently burning in the park.

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As we entered through the western gate we passed through an area currently on fire. We could see the firefighters on the hillside as we drove through the smoky haze. That night, as we exited by that same road in the dark, the hillside glowed with burning embers.

We began our tour of Yellowstone at the Lower Geyser Basin, working our way counterclockwise around the park. The two things that struck me as we worked our way around the park was the sheer vastness of Yellowstone and the great diversity of the land and animals in the different areas of the park.

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“Yellowstone National Park is America’s first and foremost National Park, drawing over three million visitors yearly. Established in 1872 by the United States Congress “for the preservation of” its many wonders and “for the enjoyment of the people,” and now encompassing 2.2 million acres.

The Park has five entrances and some 370 miles of paved roadway. Situated in the northwest corner of the Wyoming frontier, Yellowstone is a treasure that inspires awe in travelers from around the world, boasting more geysers (about 250 active geysers from amidst 10,000 total thermal features) than anywhere else on the globe.

Yellowstone is home to thousands of active thermal features, including the world renowned Old Faithful Geyser. Yellowstone is also known for the spectacular Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is 1200 feet deep and highlighted by the powerful Lower Falls. Yellowstone is also pristine mountain-range wilderness and an open refuge for wildlife, including grizzly bear, elk, American bison, moose and wolf.”

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The other thing that took me by surprise were the crowds! We have been spoiled in our travels by minimal crowds at the places we have visited so far. The return to school for school age children has resulted in smaller crowds at most of the places we have visited. We have found that those we have been touring with tend to be retirees, couples with young children or fellow homeschoolers. This was NOT the case at Yellowstone. The fact it was the weekend, as well as being Labor Day weekend, resulted in massive crowds.

Add to that the fact that Yellowstone is one of the most toured parks by international tourists, and the fact that the rise in visitors has increased by 60 % because of 2016 being the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and you have this:

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The experience made us all the more grateful that we postponed this cross country trip from June to September!

It was crazy…but we tried to not let the crowds put a damper on the experience.

Once again, four of the kids asked if they could participate in the junior ranger program. We stopped at the Old Faithful Visitor center to get the junior ranger booklets for them to work on over the next two days. The booklets were filled with a variety of activities that the kids needed to participate in.

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They needed to attend a Ranger-led program.

They decided to attend, “Truths and Myths about Yellowstone” at a beautiful lakeside pavilion on Yellowstone Lake. Check out those views!

“Yellowstone Lake — This is the largest high-altitude lake in the lower 48 states, and it is breathtaking in grandeur. As you follow the long shoreline both east and north, you will see snow-capped mountains rising across the lake. On windy days, ocean-like waves break onto the shore. Be sure to visit Lake Village and walk through the Hotel. You might also want to sit on the porch of Lake Lodge and take in the view”

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They had to hike a trail or boardwalk and record their observations. They chose the Paint Pot hike:

 “Along this short walk you will see very good examples of most types of thermal features found in Yellowstone. These features include some very pretty hot pools, steaming fumaroles, erupting geysers and probably the best easily accessed mudpots in the park. The area is highly active and at least one geyser is usually erupting here at all times.”

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Grand Prismatic Springs:

“Temperature 147-188°F Dimensions 250×380 feet. Grand Prismatic is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone, and is considered to be the third largest in the world-New Zealand has the two largest springs. Grand Prismatic sits upon a wide, spreading mound where water flows evenly on all sides forming a series of small, stair-step terraces. The Hayden Expedition in 1871 named this spring because of its beautiful coloration, and artist Thomas Moran made water-color sketches depicting its rainbow-like colors. The sketches seemed exaggerations and geologist A.C. Peale returned in 1878 to verify the colors. The colors begin with a deep blue center followed by pale blue. Green algae forms beyond the shallow edge. Outside the scalloped rim a band of yellow fades into orange. Red then marks the outer border. Steam often shrouds the spring which reflects the brilliant colors. Grand Prismatic discharges an estimated 560 gallons per minute.”

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They had to observe Old Faithful erupting and predict its next eruption:

“No visit to Yellowstone is complete without experiencing at least one eruption of Old Faithful. Old Faithful erupts more frequently than any of the other big geysers, although it is not the largest or most regular geyser in the park. Its average interval between eruptions is about 91 minutes, varying from 65 – 92 minutes. An eruption lasts 1 1/2 to 5 minutes, expels 3,700 – 8,400 gallons (14,000 – 32,000 liters) of boiling water, and reaches heights of 106 – 184 feet (30 – 55m). It was named for its consistent performance by members of the Washburn Expedition in 1870. Although its average interval has lengthened through the years (due to earthquakes and vandalism), Old Faithful is still as spectacular and predictable as it was a century ago.”

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While at Old Faithful we strolled over to Old Faithful Inn:

Old Faithful Inn is the most popular hotel in the park.  Built during the winter of 1903-04, the Old Faithful Inn was designed by Robert C. Reamer, who wanted the asymmetry of the building to reflect the chaos of nature. The lobby of the hotel features a 65-foot ceiling, a massive rhyolite fireplace, and railings made of contorted lodgepole pine. Wings were added to the hotel in 1915 and 1927, and today there are 327 rooms available to guests in this National Historic Landmark.

It was stunning. We had fun walking around the lobby.

Before we left we bought a few cups of homemade Huckleberry ice cream to share on the porch.

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Another place in the park that the kids needed to visit was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone so that they could sketch the view in their booklet.

“Lower Falls and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon may not be as big as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but it is nonetheless breathtaking. The Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon, at 308 feet high, is one of the most photographed features in all of Yellowstone.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the primary geologic feature in the Canyon District. It is roughly 20 miles long, measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area. Depth is 800 to 1,200 ft.; width is 1,500 to 4,000 ft. The canyon as we know it today is a very recent geologic feature. The present canyon is no more than 10,000 to 14,000 years old, although there has probably been a canyon in this location for a much longer period. The exact sequence of events in the formation of the canyon is not well understood, as there has been little field work done in the area. The few studies that are available are thought to be inaccurate. We do know that the canyon was formed by erosion rather than by glaciation. A more complete explanation can be found in the Geological Overview section. The geologic story of the canyon, its historical significance as a barrier to travel, its significance as destination/attraction, and its appearance in Native American lore and in the accounts of early explorers are all important interpretive points. The “ooh-ahh” factor is also important: its beauty and grandeur, its significance as a feature to be preserved, and the development of the national park idea.”

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As well as fill out workbook pages recording the wildlife they observed as they moved through the park. We drove through Lamar Valley:

“Lamar Valley — This wide, expansive valley is home to bison, elk, coyote, grizzly and wolf, and is must-visit area for serious wildlife watchers. Bison and elk are readily visible, and coyotes can oftentimes be spotted. Visitors who are willing to rise early in the morning or wait up until dusk also may have the opportunity to see bears and wolves. In fact, Lamar Valley is the #1 destination for viewing wolves.”

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We also made sure we stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs…Incredible!

“Mammoth Hot Springs – This is Park headquarters and it radiates history, featuring some of the oldest buildings in the Park, including structures from the days when the U.S. Army was managing Yellowstone.

Mammoth Hot Springs are the main attraction of the Mammoth District. These features are quite different from thermal areas elsewhere in the park. Travertine formations grow much more rapidly than sinter formations due to the softer nature of limestone. As hot water rises through limestone, large quantities of rock are dissolved by the hot water, and a white chalky mineral is deposited on the surface.”

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We have found that the junior ranger program really enhances the experience and engages the kids in a way that would be missed if we were simply just moving our way through the park. Filling in the booklets requires them to stop and read the signs, interact with the rangers, ask questions, and stop to really look and appreciate the beauty of the park.

The result of all that hard work:

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Being sworn in as junior rangers and receiving another patch and junior ranger pin to add to their collection.

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This is in addition to getting to keep their completed booklets as souvenirs of the experience and a record of all they learned.

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Next Stop: Grand Tetons National Park

Devils Tower

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 We are now 10 days into our road trip and 1/5 of our way through our journey. What a journey it has been- full of amazing sites, incredible experiences, wonderful people, and innumerable blessings!

On Thursday, after leaving the Black Hills of South Dakota we traveled two hours west, crossing into Wyoming, for our visit to Devils Tower National Monument.

This was another stop I was looking forward to with eager anticipation, as it is a place that holds so many fond childhood memories for me.

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Toby and I reenacting the infamous “tree sniffing photo” of my parents on our childhood visit to Devil’s Tower.

 

I remember camping at the Devils Tower KOA and sleeping under the silhouette of that mighty monument.

I couldn’t wait to return and share the experience with my own family.

As we approached the campground we could see Devils Tower looming in the distance, growing larger with every mile as we approached our camp.

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The Devils Tower KOA is located at the base of the monument, mere feet from the entrance of the park. It is a beautiful KOA, both because of the upkeep as well as the incredible views. It is the nicest KOA we have ever stayed at.

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Oh, how the memories came flooding back as we pulled into the campground!

We pulled into our site and the kids got out to stretch their legs and play at the playground while I fixed lunch.

Look at the view from our campsite!

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After lunch we headed into the national park to explore more closely the beauty of Devils Tower.

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As we drove into the park we passed a prairie dog town on our way up the winding road. At the top of the road sat a small visitor’s center at the base of Devil’s Tower. This was our first stop.

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Devils Tower:

“Devils Tower National Monument, a unique and striking geologic wonder steeped in Indian legend, is a modern day national park and climbers’ challenge. Devils Tower sits across the state line in northeast Wyoming. The Tower is a solitary, stump-shaped granite formation that looms 1,267 feet above the tree-lined Belle Fourche River Valley, like a skyscraper in the country. Once hidden below the earth’s surface, erosion has stripped away the softer rock layers revealing the Tower.

The two-square-mile park surrounding the tower was proclaimed the nation’s first national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The park is covered with pine forests, woodlands and grasslands. While visiting the park you are bound to see deer, prairie dogs and other wildlife. The mountain’s markings are the basis for Native American legend. One legend has it that a giant bear clawed the grooves into the mountainside while chasing several young Indian maidens. Known by several northern plains tribes as Bears Lodge, it is a sacred site of worship for many American Indians. Devils Tower is also remembered as the movie location for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

The stone pillar is about 1,000 feet in diameter at the bottom and 275 feet at the top and that makes it the premier rock climbing challenge in the Black Hills.”

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The kids were invited by the park ranger to participate in the junior ranger program, an educational, interactive program offered at many of the National Parks. The kids had not yet had the opportunity to try and earn their junior ranger badge at previous parks because of our limited time at each of those parks. This time, however, we had a full day planned at the park and plenty of time for the kids to really explore, research and learn all about Devils Tower.

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The booklet included a nature bingo game, pages to draw on and record information about a flower they saw on their hike and a wild animal they saw. There were also crossword puzzles, true and false quizzes, and fill in the blank questionnaires that required the kids to read signs and find the missing information.

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Molly, Rusty and Tyler decided to try and earn their badge. Ozzie was more interested in simply reading the signs and not filling out the 12-page booklet, and Grace was not feeling well, so after walking through the visitors center with us she headed back to the bus to lay down rather than hike with us.

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While at the visitors center we got our National Parks passport book stamped and the kids began filling in their junior ranger booklets with the information they found in the visitor’s center.

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Then we headed out on the Tower Trail, a 1.25-mile trail that winds its way around the base of this mammoth rock.

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The trail was beautiful…

And the views were breathtaking.

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We stopped at each trail sign to read about the park and so the kids could fill in their booklets. I knew Molly and Rusty would love this activity but I was surprised how engaged Tyler was. I have watched Tyler blossom, as a student, on this trip as he experiences these places that he has never shown any interest in while reading about them in a book. He is learning, experiencing, retaining and growing through these hands-on learning opportunities and it just confirms that Tyler’s learning style is that of a hands-on, kinesthetic learner.

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Looking at the original wooden ladders that took the first climbers to the top.

 

As we walked around the monument we were in awe and understood why, upon seeing this magnificent place, Theodore Roosevelt designated it the first National Monument in the United States. This made Wyoming the home to the first National Park (Yellowstone) and home to the first National Monument.

Along our hike we spotted a deer laying by the path,

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And hikers high on the cliffs.

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Tyler loved watching the hikers up close through the binoculars.

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He and Molly both agreed that someday they would like to try mountain climbing.

It was a wonderful hike and we learned a lot along the way. By the time we reached the end of the trail three of the four kids had completed their booklet and were ready to have them checked over by a park ranger.

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They passed and were ready to be sworn in as junior park rangers.

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What a wonderful program. They all enjoyed it so much and learned so much, they all said they would like try getting their junior ranger badges at all the National Parks we visit. What an awesome experience it is being able to visit and experience our nation’s national parks, especially in 2016, during the National Park Service’s 100 year anniversary!

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By then it was nearing dinner time, so we walked back to the bus to find Grace feeling much better. We decided that before dinner we would enjoy a swim in the KOA  pool. After working up a sweat, the cool pool water felt good, and we couldn’t have asked for better pool views.

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After dinner everyone put on PJs and sweatshirts and we walked over to the camp’s outdoor theatre to watch, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” the sci-fi classic that was filmed right there at Devil’s Tower. This KOA shows it every night in their outdoor theatre that looks out onto Devils Tower monument.

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I remember sitting under the Wyoming stars, at the base of Devils Tower, as a kid watching this movie for the first time and thinking it was one of the coolest experiences ever.

It was so much fun to relive that moment again. Sitting under the stars, in the cool night air, introducing my own kids to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” I thought to myself,

“Life doesn’t get much better than this.”

Next stop: Yellowstone National Park!