Day 33 – Sturgis, SD to Devils Tower, WY

We biked the 20 miles to Spearfish this morning, and found a bike shop first thing. The guys in there were incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, and they helped us make sure everything would continue to run smoothly. After taking a quick look at Aidan’s bike, they assured us we wouldn’t be going anywhere until we replaced his back tire, which had worn through to show some threads!

So Aidan swapped it out for his spare, bought a new spare, and our bikes were set to go. We took time to deal with a few details on the bikes too – taping over peeling handlebar wrap, pumping tires, cleaning and oiling our chains. Thank you to everyone at Two Wheeler Dealer for helping us and for letting us use your space and tools!

We spent the rest of the day in Spearfish – at a coffee shop, buying groceries, and eating dinner. And then it was time to hit the road – 6:30 pm, and we started on our way toward Devils Tower, which was 60 miles away. 

We were able to make decent time with the evening temperatures, and soon found ourselves entering Wyoming! This is a state we have really been looking forward to! 

And it didn’t disappoint. The landscape began to change right after we crossed the border – I guess that spot was chosen for a reason! We started seeing more and more trees, and the hills started to get bigger. 

We took a moment to stop and appreciate Wyoming’s motorcycle handlebar law. 

Soon we were climbing hills with forests on either side. The sun had gone down completely at this point, but it was a full moon, and we let that light our way. Every half hour or so, a car would pass us, at which point we would turn our front lights back on to be visible from all directions, but those moments were definitely few and far between. 

Biking into the night like that was an incredible experience. The moon cast our shadows on the road beside us, and everything was quiet and peaceful. We kept staring at the horizon – were they clouds or mountains? We went back and forth, but eventually felt confident in calling them mountains, and realized that our path will take us right over them! We have some good climbs ahead!

Around 11:00, a pickup truck slowed down to say hi and to hear about our travels. And then with a somewhat offhand warning to keep an eye out for lions and bears (oh my!) which she has seen around there, she drove away. We kept pedaling, and although bushes started to look significantly more bear-like, the only wild animals we saw were deer. 

The landscape opened up again at about midnight, as we reached the height of Mt. Mansfield then pedaled down out of the Black Hills. 

Devils Tower became suddenly visible to us as we rounded a corner over a little hill, and it was just breathtaking. We had the full moon to our left, and an impressive view of this National Monument directly ahead. 

We came very close to camping in a KOA, but realized that the scene there (too much lighting, a store, a pool, lots of RVs) was putting a damper on the beauty of the park. So we saved our $32, and biked into the park and to the campground there, where it was much more relaxed. We took the only site we could find, and fell asleep almost instantly – after stopping for some photos and to figure out camping, it was 2am by the time we actually stopped biking! 

12 thoughts on “Day 33 – Sturgis, SD to Devils Tower, WY

  1. PSonn July 20, 2016 / 5:01 pm

    Wow! What an awesome night-time view! And I was getting a little anxious to see what you guys were up to… Your KOA almost-experience brings back memories: hard ground, noisy, etc. I’m glad you found a more agreeable alternative! Stay cool!


  2. Nancy Vanderlin July 20, 2016 / 5:14 pm

    What a night to remember!!! Your pics of Devils Tower are amazing!


  3. Nancy Vandelin July 20, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    Jamie just shared with me that Susannah’s father was one of the first dozen or so people to climb Devil’s Tower!


  4. Stephen Kellogg July 20, 2016 / 5:23 pm

    Your Aunt Susannah’s Dad was one of the first people to climb Devil’s Tower. Uncle Jamie says his name (Stephen Porter) is listed on a plaque in the visitor’s center, which I only heard about after I had left the Park, which is probably true for you, too!

    Your pictures of it are spectacular. I hope you hiked around the entire Tower – definitely a beautiful walk.

    Love, Grandad


  5. Tom Powell July 20, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    Aidan, Glad to see you bought a new tire. Not sure how much life was left in the old one. It’s great the way cool little bike shops across the country are such helpful refuges for you. Love, Dad


  6. Al July 20, 2016 / 7:49 pm

    It must have been amazing to see the tower in the moonlight while riding! Once again, incredible photos!!

    Since you appreciate paper maps I sent some to Aidan general delivery, Powell, Wy. If you get there too soon and the package isn’t there don’t worry about it. I’ll email a map-my-ride link and scanned version. It has suggestions for a better route from Yellowstone to Missoula, MT.

    When you’re around Yellowstone, it’s best to camp in nat’l forest or nat’l park sites. They have the bear-proof lockers for your food. Northern Yellowstone has the highest concentration of grizzlies in the lower 48. Since you have no vehicle and hanging food often attracts them, it’s the safest alternative. Incidents with people are very rare but they can demolish a smelly set of panniers with one swipe. Enjoy the park! Take some time to get off the main tourist road if you can and on to a trail.

    Wishing you tailwinds!


    • Uncle Bill July 21, 2016 / 1:07 am

      Aidan, just hang your shirt near the food. That will scare off anything!! Awesome pictures of DT. Love the tire shot….or should I say the shot tire.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sue and Jim July 20, 2016 / 8:13 pm

    Photography is beautiful. The real beauty begins.


  8. Dad/Chris July 20, 2016 / 8:35 pm

    I am in complete awe of the thought of pedaling to Devil’s Tower in the moonlight.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dad/Chris July 20, 2016 / 8:37 pm

    Ohhhh, and I had threadbare tires like that on my ’73 Firebird…and drove it in the moonlight a bunch of times. xoxo


  10. Anne Porter July 20, 2016 / 10:41 pm

    H i Clara and Aidan, susannah and Jamie told me about your blog, which I look forward to reading every day. I especially love the night photos of Devil’s Tower, which my husband, Steve Porter, climbed in the 50’s. Are you visiting the Tetons? beautiful! Keep up the good work! Anne Porter (Susannah’s mother)

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ian Govett July 21, 2016 / 5:29 pm

    Great trip progress , blog posts and pictures. You are making such good progress – riding at night too. Good way to avoid the heat.

    Your previous day’s ride with the strong cross winds is quite a challenge to maintain control over your direction with cars passing, etc. I could relate as I used to bike in strong cross winds while living in Boulder, Colorado. More dangerous when the cars are passing as they interrupt the wind.

    Aidan, I am very surprising your tire lasted so long without a flat ! Just a couple weeks back, I was within a mile of the top of App Gap when my tire blew out. When I looked, I was surprised to see my tire looked much like yours. Unfortunately, I had no spare, no cell service and began to walk to the top in hopes of finding cell service. Within 5 minutes some kind soul stopped and had all the tools necessary for me to make a temporary repair and be on my over the top and down to Waitsfield. You are much better prepared than I, but you need to be with the long miles between towns.

    Safe riding !

    Liked by 1 person

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