Road Trip Day 2 – Little Bighorn and Devil’s Tower

Last thing I saw during daylight yesterday was an eruption of Old Faithful. I ended up eating there and driving a couple of hours to Livingston, Montana and spending the night there so I didn’t have a 5 hour drive to the Little Bighorn National Monument.

It was certainly different going from Yellowstone to waking up in the rolling bluffs in Montana.

The Little Bighorn National Monument is pretty interesting. It’s also the location of a national cemetery, with soldiers and their wives buried there. It’s not just soldiers from the Sioux War either; the latest date I saw was from a Vietnam casualty.

John Yarger: February 26, 1949 – March 23 1969

The visitors center is small, with only one room of exhibits. Every few hours a ranger gives a talk about the battle, and it was entertaining. It’s basically an hour long story time by a park ranger who really enjoys telling the story.

It’s a somber place. Aside from the cemetery, tombstones dot the landscape showing where the dead fell. The marker for Custer is on what’s now known as Last Stand hill, surrounded by markers of those who fell with him.

Custer’s marker is the one that has white text on black. In the distance, where the line of green is, is the Little Bighorn (it’s a river; before today I always thought it was a mountain)

Additionally, Last Stand hill also contains the monument to all the soldiers of the 7th cavalry who fell during the battle.

Monument to the fallen of the 7th Cavalry

There is also a monument to the fallen Native American warriors.

Native American Memorial

The two are connected by a spirit gate. As one of the displays reads, “The sprit gate to the Seventh Cavalry Monument symbolically welcomes the spirits of the Seventh Cavalry into the memorial’s circle.”

The Sprit Gate

One four hour drive later, I was at Devil’s Tower. Devil’s Tower is the remanent of a volcano from ~50 million years ago. It’s cooled magma that formed a plug in the volcano. The rest of the volcano has eroded away, leaving the Tower. When I saw it for the first time driving up to it, I couldn’t help but be impressed.

Somewhere in this picture, there are climbers.

When I got there, I was even more impressed that people were climbing it. Like at Old Faithful yesterday, I got there right as the sun was setting, so just about all the climbers I saw were heading down. One was just about at the very top, so I don’t think he made it down before it got dark.

Tomorrow: Black Hills, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Mount Rushmore.

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