Gillette, Wyoming was on our planned route and I had seen that Devil’s Tower was fairly close – an hour drive is considered close where I’m from. I asked Richard if he minded sleeping in the car as I knew we would arrive late in the day. He was ok with the idea, so we found the highway that led to the National Monument. At about 6:00pm we began to see the unmistakeable form that had intrigued me since I had seen Steven Speilberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind [insert repetitive music here]. But we were approaching from the east and could only see the shadowed side of this unique monument. I made a mental note that if I return to this site, it will be to see the sunrise on the east side. But for now, the sun was low and if I was to have any daylight at all to photograph the west side I’d better hurry. We left cash in a deposit box by the gate and followed the road past the prairie dog town. They were probably bedded down for the night as the light was fading fast. The road skirted the monument and led us to the interpretive centre at the base of the west side. What a view with the warm sunshine! When we arrived, the parking lot had about 8 vehicles many of whom were climbers who had obviously scaled the tower earlier and were now packing up to leave. I managed to set up a timelapse of the sunset with pines that grow around the base.
Richard looked after that for me while I took the other camera further up the trail. I found a sweet spot among the enormous boulders that had tumbled from above and decided that I needed to head back before the sun completely vanished as I had forgotten to bring a flashlight – silly! Upon my return, I discovered that everyone else had left – Richard and I were the only ones there.
The eerie stillness was broken only by hooting owls and was a welcome silence that reminded me I was back on the prairie. After a bite to eat and locating flashlights we both walked up the trail to capture the star timelapse from the foot of the tower. The quiet was deafening.
After packing the gear back in the car, we followed the road back past the prairie dog town and caught a couple more shots on the moonlit side.
We decided that another hour back to Gillette for a hotel room would be in order and we had a comfy sleep instead of my original plan.