I’m heading back to WI for another visit.  We get Monday off for Columbus day, so I decided to take the long weekend to drive and camp on my way.  Devils Tower, here we come.

I am so excited because I bought a new tent, a Marmot Limelight,  3 person backpacking tent.  It looks huge, but it only weighs 7.5 pounds, so for sure if you are backpacking you will make your buddies carry some.  But for me, I was really interested in getting a little bigger tent for not only when I camp, but for when I introduce my grandchildren to camping, which will hopefully be this coming summer.  There is plenty of room for me, Lily, Lola and eventually Archer.

So back to Devils Tower.  Rae and I arrived mid day on Saturday, it was sunny and about 80 degrees.  It was an amazing day, almost too hot.  Take a look at the view from our tent:

Devils Tower, View from the tent

The other cool thing was I bought a new GSI Bugaboo camping cookset, which I had my eye for a while (thank you REI dividends and the Labor Day sale!) It was so fun to try out the new gear.  I am an outdoor gear head, what I can say!

GSI Bugaboo Cookset

I really enjoy the tempo of camping.   Everything you do is purposeful, deliberate and simple.  From going to get water and heating it for tea, to cooking and cleaning up, to gathering wood and starting and tending the fire.  It is so peaceful and rewarding, but simple and surprisingly, peace is easily achieved.  You come to realize how little you need to get by.  There is something really liberating about that.

Watching the tower as the light changes throughout the day is so beautiful.  This really feels like a spiritual place.

stars-at-night-posterWhat I enjoy most while I’m camping, one of the best parts for me is being out in the elements, and really experiencing the smells, tastes, weather and spirit of the place, and seeing the stars at night (because ultimately you will need to pee at 2am).

It was a cool, crisp and clear night and there were more stars than seem possible.  Seeing those stars leaves you with the feeling that for sure there is something bigger out there that you don’t understand and at the same time makes perfect sense.

Although it was 80 degrees during the day, it did get nippy at night, and I could have definitely used a heavier sleeping bag.  But the campfire was still warm in the morning, and drinking my coffee while sitting next to the stoked fire in the morning was a wonderful gift.

I wish the National Park Service did not have such strict rules about dogs.  I know they have to because there are a lot of bad dog owners, but Rae is like the best dog ever, and she still got in trouble from a ranger (she was not doing anything wrong!).   Rae and I were still able to have a good time, there were enough areas that we could walk, and still experience the park.

Devils Tower National Monument- Patty and Rae
Devils Tower National Monument- Patty and Rae

I totally understand why the park has to be vigilant with pet owners.  The parks are for the indigenous animals to live freely, and domesticated pets can throw that off balance.  But it can be tricky to visit the national parks with a pet.  If you are just driving through, it can work, but if you like to be active and want to check out the back country, it is best to leave your pet at home.  Always check ahead of time, what the pet guidelines are for the park you want to visit.

The sunrise on the tower was just as spectacular as sunset had been.  Honestly, you cannot take your eyes away from the tower, it changes constantly with the light, and leaves you with this great sense of awe and wonder.  It is nice to be reminded of the joy that can be found from the simple beauty of nature.

Devils Tower at sunrise

The first time I visited Devils Tower was in 1982, I was with my husband Jim and my sister Jane and her husband Andy.

We did not at all know what we were doing, but we had a great time.  The park has really changed since ’82, it almost feels luxurious now.  They even have flush toilets.  Jane, do you remember those awful pit toilets?

What I learned about the Park:

What I learn from all these great national parks is that you should not only  visit them once.  Each time you visit them, and every different season is a new experience.  I have been to Devils Tower probably 15 times in my life, and it never gets old.  The tower is magnetic, you are so drawn to just look at it, and keep looking at it.  It was cool to see climbers, climbing the same route I did back in 2002.

Devils Tower National Monument - Circle of Sacred Smoke
Devils Tower National Monument – Circle of Sacred Smoke

Maybe we’ll do a 15 year reunion climb next summer. Are you up for it John and Jeff?    Also, another lesson is that if you are doing any camping in October, always bring your winter sleeping bag, no matter what the forecast says.

What I learned about myself:

I love camping.  I don’t do it very much anymore, but my hope is that this blog will motivate me to find the time to work it in.  I feel like I am not taking full advantage of all there is to do and see out here.  Even simple trips, one night stays, doesn’t have to be a big deal, and you can feel renewed!

My advice to you:

Find something you love to do and do it.  Spend time renewing your energy in a positive healthy way.  Let me know if you want to come camping with me!

Share your thoughts:

What place do you visit over and over and never get tired of?

More about the park:

Devils Tower became our nation’s first monument in 1906.  Located in the Black Hills in WY, Devils Tower rises 1,267 feet (386 m) above the Belle Fourche River. A sacred place to over 20 Native American Tribes, Devils Tower is also known as Mato Tipila or Bear Lodge.

There is a proposal from the Oglala Sioux Tribe to officially change the name from Devils Tower to Bear Lodge, which I think would be kind of cool, and better honors the people who lived here before us.

NPS Link to Devils Tower

Link to info on the proposed name change

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