We checked out of the Horse Thief Campground and headed west to Wyoming. We have tried to avoid the interstates as much as possible. Driving from Hill City to Sundance, Wyoming was interesting in that we passed through the Wyoming oil patch. I never knew they have been pumping oil in this part of the state since the early 1920’s. We stopped at the location of a hand-dug well from 1966, the Accidental Oil Well, which is still producing oil at the rate of ½ barrel a day. It’s only 24 ft deep. See the picture of the story.
Our first stop was Devils Tower National Monument of Close Encounters fame. It was well worth the trip. We hiked around the base and got to see a couple of climbers scaling the wall. The first people to climb Devil tower used wooded ladders that the wedged into the vertical cracks in the rock. Remnants of the wooden ladders are still visible you can see in the pictures. Devils Tower is also an important spiritual location for Native Americans. In June, the Tower is closed to climber because Indians conduct spiritual ceremonies that involve tying brightly colored pieces of cloth on some of the trees along the trail. These are referred to as prayer cloths, prayer bundles, prayer ribbons, prayer ties, or prayer flags. They are physical, symbolic representations of prayers and are placed there by American Indian people as part of their religious ceremonies.