June 29, 2012 – Devil’s Tower

Universally acclaimed as one of the best hikes of the trip was the Red Beds trail around Devil’s Tower, Wyoming.

Here’s a good-looking family in front of the exposed batholith.

This year’s vacation group shot, for the first time in about 15 years, not in Northern Minnesota.

The visitor center and parking lot were very crowded – so we took the road less traveled and instead of taking the 1 mile hike around the base, we took the longer three mile hike around the red beds trail.

The trail starts off in a pine forest – very welcome shade on a 97 degree day.

Eventually the trail opened up to some meadows.

There were wonderful vistas looking out over the Wyoming landscape and Belle Fourche river valley below.

At one point the trail dropped into the “desert” as the kids called the exposed red beds that is the trail’s namesake.

Up from the red beds, the trail traversed through an area that had been burned.

Martin taking a look at the imposing rock near the end of the trail.

A well-deserved break near the end of the trail.

I hadn’t noticed this strange object in the sky when I took this photo and didn’t see it until I arrived home!

All in all, the trail had great diversity of landforms, and on this trip we were the 1%.  We only saw one other hiker on the trail. So we were in the 1% of people who left the visitor center!