Bear Butte and Devil’s Tower

Thursday, July 5

After filling up the fresh water tank at Cottonwood Campground outside of Hot Springs, South Dakota,  the crew and I head north on Highway 79 to Rapid City.  We take Interstate 90 west to Sturgis.  By early afternoon we reach our destination: Bear Butte State Park.

Bear Butte is not a butte; it’s a mountain considered sacred by Native Americans and others who have experienced its mystical aura.  One approaches via a straight road which draws you toward its base.

We take the turn toward the campground, passing the entrances to two day use areas.

At the gate I stop and get out to read the campground rules. Gee, this wind is something else!  I’m glad we’re off the highway now. The fee is $10 per night for no hook-ups.  A water spigot, vault toilets, and trash bins are available.  There are no electric sites.  No extra charge for pets.  Good.   I take a fee envelope and drive the PTV into the campground.  This is pleasant.  The lake is within walking distance and there are shelters or trees at every site.  Since I plan for us to stay only one night, I’m not going to unhitch, so I choose a site that’s level, both front to back and side to side.

Bridget and Spike recognize we’ve reached our new home.

Immediately I open up the PTV’s side door and they scramble out, Spike barking and Bridget squealing.  Good thing no one’s here but the camp hosts.   We hurry through the wind to see the lake.  I’m amazed to see an older gentleman with two young boys trying to fish in this weather.  “No, Spikey, you can’t go swimming today.  Maybe tomorrow will be a nicer day and you can go in the water.”

On the way back to our campsite I notice the sky darkening with thunder clouds. 

Inside the BLT I turn on the television (8 stations!) and the weather lady tells me we’re in for some thunderstorms.  Later, toward evening, a tornado watch is put into effect.  Rain pelts the roof for several hours that night.  That’s more rain than I’ve heard in the past six months!

Friday, July 6

The sky looks ominous to the horizon in all directions.  Rain is falling to the west.   Bear Butte is shrouded in fog.  What a dreary day!  I open up my laptop to discover it’s all messed up.  The cursor doesn’t have any effect.  In fact I can hardly move it.  The desktop loads funny.   I can’t get online.  I call Verizon and together we reinstall the air card.  It becomes obvious the problem is the laptop.  By this time it’s noon and more thunderstorms are threatening all around.

I decide it would be best to stay put.

To get my mind off technology, I put some birdseed on the picnic table and watch red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and a new-to-me bird with a yellow bib peck at the seed.   In the afternoon the crew and I walk up the road to both day use areas.

I keep my promise to Spike. 

He lies down in the water facing the little waves and white caps.  Okay, one more night here.  First thing in the morning we’ll hit the road, go further west to the Wal-Mart in Spearfish, buy a laptop, return the crappy camera, and continue on to the Flying J in Gillette, Wyoming.  That will put us well on our way toward Yellowstone and the Tetons. A free camp will be good after dropping $20 here.

At a different time in different weather I might have explored the sacred mountain.  Sometimes the timing just isn’t right.

I get the atlas out of the PTV and turn to the map of South Dakota and then Wyoming. 

Hey, we can drive the blue highways and see Devil’s Tower tomorrow!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you can see from this slideshow, we did see Devil’s Tower.  I also bought a new laptop, exchanged the defective Nikon camera (after 15 days you can only exchange), and we are camped at the Gillette Flying J!



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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73 Responses to Bear Butte and Devil’s Tower

  1. Pat says:

    I want to go back to Devils Tower!!!!! Today I am on the Washington coast, but think I will head east in a few weeks. I love your pics and the way you enjoy every day to the fullest. Thanks for sharing.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Pat,

      You’re welcome. I’m disappointed the photos are not in the correct order on the slideshow. I’m not used to my new computer yet and downloading from Picasa didn’t work too well for me.

      Hey, I want to go to the Washington coast!

  2. earthdancerimages says:

    I envy you all that rain! Not good for sight seeing…. but I promise if it ever rains here, I am gonna get out and dance in it! Still in Hurricane UT waiting for repairs! Glad you got to see Devil’s Tower! Thank goodness for new laptop and camera! Life will be a bit easier now! Geri

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The rain was nice. The gloomy skies, not so much. The dark clouds hung over that area for two days and the only way we got rid of them was to drive away!

      I get a new laptop and camera, and now my Verizon air card is acting up. I think it needs a new battery. I’m going to give it an overnight charge and see if it comes back to life. I went up to the Flying J store and paid $5 for 24 hours of their WiFi. The things I do to keep my blog alive!

      • earthdancerimages says:

        Sue. WE appreciate all you do for keeping your blog alive! It’s the best blog out there and I am addicted! Thank you!!!

  3. phxkayaker says:

    We’re going to miss you – headed towards Glacier tomorrow morning. Some nice, free spots on Grassy Lake Road near the John D Rockefeller visitor center between Yellowstone and Grand Teton

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Excellent information! Thanks for sharing it. Enjoy Glacier! (Of course you will. How could you not?)

      • phxkayaker says:

        The visitor center has a map of the “primitive” sites. They didn’t have a clue when I asked about dispersed camping.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          As a female boondocker I occasionally run into an obstacle when trying to obtain information about dispersed camping. I’m given suggestions for campgrounds with hookups, even after explaining I’m self-contained and want to camp by myself …

  4. ThatCase says:

    Did you have a Close Encounter at Devil’s Tower? Still love that movie.

  5. Sherry says:

    So sorry you didn’t get to go up to Bear’s Lodge. It is a really special place. I thought they had a campground right there actually. Is that where you stayed? I didn’t remember a state park that had a view of the sacred site. Spike looks totally relaxed in that water.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      At the highest elevation we travelled today, we came upon Bear’s Lodge Campground. I drove in to see what it was like. It’s National Forest, $10 a day (half that with senior pass) and $2 per pet. No one was there except an older guy who looked like he’d been in the forest too long. I smiled and waved at him from 25 ft. away and he looked back at me with no response. The campground was kind of shabby and depressing to me, very little sunlight. The water wasn’t working. No hookups, of course. I drove the loop and left without stopping.

      The confusion may come from the fact that Devil’s Tower is called Bear’s Lodge by Native Americans.

      We stayed at Bear Butte SP and then drove to Devil’s Tower and now we’re at the Flying J in Gillette WY.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The slideshow photos are mixed up. It looks like we stayed at Devil’s Tower but the BLT photos are Bear Butte.

      • Sherry says:

        I have always called Devil’s Tower Bear Lodge since that’s what the native people prefer. I thought it had its own campground. Is that what you meant when you described the kind of run down place with the guy who didn’t respond? You had as good a view of the Tower from where you were clearly.

  6. mary strasser says:

    Doesn’t look like the wind and waves bothered Spike a bit! Are you sure it isn’t bare Butte with all that wind?

  7. cinandjules says:

    Wow whitecaps on the lake! Oh no….not windy Wyoming again!

    Did you try to re-start your laptop in “safe mode”. Gotta keep the expenses to a minimum. I’m sure there is enough knowledge with your followers to help you thru anything. At least you’ll have a back up.
    With your dreary description you still seem to capture the beautiful scenery.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That laptap has many issues, including missing keys. It has been a struggle using it for the past three months. I was sooooo sick of it, I didn’t shed a tear when it died.

  8. Chinle says:

    Spike should write a guide to swimming holes in the West. 🙂

  9. Kathy says:

    Thanks for keeping your blog alive. I really do look forward to your posts as I hope to be out that way next year at this time.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I hope you do make it out this way, Kathy. Even the way I travel — skipping a lot of attractions due to the crew — I still had a wonderful time in the Black Hills area.

  10. Glenda Cornwill says:

    Looking forward to seeing Wyoming…………….the only way I will ever get to see it…………….happy travelling………….Glenda in Australia!!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    So glad you are ok…was kind of wondering what happened…technology can be a pain!! Things still plugging away here…hubby wants it done by the end of August so really gotta get a move on!!

  12. Kim says:

    I’m glad you are willing to do whatever it takes to keep posting. Your readership thanks you.

  13. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy rvsue&crew,

    I’M INTERESTED, I’M INTERESTED!!! I get to watch Spike soak his belly and Miss Snooty act snooty and read yourlovely prose!!!

  14. jopappa says:

    Another great ‘segment’ glad the storm did not rattle you much. Looked threatining.

    Be sure to stop at the city hall in Buffalo WY. Old Courthouse, museum in basement FASCINATING stuff, ranches there, still the same families own them that were involved in the range wars….. Very cool history. Then on to Cody WY, must see/stay/explore place. Man I wish I were there again.

    Will be soon, I hope. Maybe next year.
    W & R

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I have to pass on museums unless a cold front comes through so I can leave the crew in the PTV. I also have to be careful not to leave them where a goody-two-shoes will come along and complain that I’m being cruel because of their howling (The crew is good at pretending they are being tortured.).

      I’m glad my blog brought back to mind some fun experiences … Thanks for the compliment.

      • Tesaje says:

        I’m lucky. My dog just waits quietly for me and the cats say nothing. When it’s hot, the genny running so they have AC is a giveaway.

  15. EmilyO says:

    I bought some lemon sherbet this morning. Been craving lemon and you buying rainbow sherbet, well I couldn’t resist when I walked by the freezer today. Fat free and I removed the sugar when I left the store! One scoopful a day – oh dear I am up to Tuesday. Thought you needed a chuckle.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      For me it’s not summer if there’s no sherbet in it! One scoopful a day? I polish off the big tubs in two days! If you go off the Dukan wagon, go big, I say. BTW I’m back in attack mode to compensate….. The crew love it because they get lots of lean turkey treats.

  16. Sue, What model Nikon gave you the problems? I’ve been considering a Nikon P510 and just wondering if that’s the one you have.
    Safe travels,

  17. geogypsy2u says:

    As much as we need rain I’d revel in it, but I can’t tolerate the big wind for long. I love how Spike just lays down in the water. Does he swim much?
    Wondering what kind of computer and camera you bought.
    I’d rather sleep at a semi-quiet Wallys than the noisey Fly J.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I didn’t have the option of switching camera brands. Wal-Mart almost wouldn’t take the crummy one back because they have a limit of 15 days on returning cameras. I talked them into letting me make an even exchange, although not what I preferred.

      I bought a Dell. Not my first choice either, but I didn’t want an Acer and their Toshiba was more computer than I needed and more expensive.

      Spike will swim if I go out with him.

      • Elizabeth says:

        We have a couple Dell computers…been good so far. In fact, my first Dell was fried in an electical storm (you know how that is in these parts)…so the one I have now is exactly as the other one was, except it was a refurbished one. Been quite a few years on it now with LOTS of useage hours. However, I know the laptops do not last near as long gnerally….mine is not laptop.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh, about sleeping at Flying J. There’s a huge Wal-mart near here with a quiet parking lot. I wanted to move there! However, I had to stay at the J so I could use their Wifi (my aircard is sick).

  18. Your Devil’s Tower pics brought back some nice memories for me. Noticed your photos are much clearer than they used to be & I particularly liked the one with the little rig beside the tree with the dark sky behind it. Keep up the good work:))

  19. John Hussey says:

    Consider a long lasting Mac laptop instead of the shorter lasting ones from Walmart. Get the new Iphone and you might not need the camera either.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Too late John. I picked up a Dell at Walmart. Not many choices.

      When on the road I often find myself in the position of buying what’s in front of me rather than searching for a better product or deal by bringing my home with me around an unfamiliar city. And ordering by mail nails me to a spot . . .

      It’s one of the trade-offs of living in a home on wheels.

      • Ed says:

        “And ordering by mail nails me to a spot . . . ”

        I guess I have an advantage in some respects because I need to have a periodontal cleaning every 4 months so I need to know were I’ll be, plus an appointment, to get it. This allows me to order by mail and receive stuff. That assumes that it is not something I need/want NOW.

  20. Tonya says:

    Hi Sue,
    Ive been reading your post daily for some time and loving every minute!
    My question is: Im a traveling Ocuupational therapist with a older motorhome, I recently bought to keep housing cost down when I start to travel. My assignments will be 13 wks. at the least and you mention there is a limit of days to stay at the campgrounds. Also, you boondock most of the time I see and Im really not sure how the generator works just yet…lol still learning. Also, the motorhome is a 1998 Eldorado and I hear some campsites will not let older ones in.
    Any comments you have is appreciated!!
    Tonya from Missouri

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The 14-day limit on public lands (Bureau of Land Management, National Forest) means you have to move at least 25 miles away after camping in a spot for 14 days. You cannot camp more than 14 days in any 28 day period. Even their fee campgrounds have the 14-day limit. That’s how I understand it. I don’t know if there’s a limit at private campgrounds.

      I don’t have a lot of experience with campgrounds and I don’t know anything about campgrounds not allowing older motorhomes. Personally I wouldn’t want to camp in a place that excluded people based on the age of their motorhome. I can’t stand elitism. I know, it’s supposed to keep out the “rifraff,” who, in my book, don’t exist. We’re all people.
      Okay, enough ranting, back to Tonya!

      Good luck with your plans! Make sure you have reliable internet in order to research the areas where you’ll be assigned.

    • Chuck says:

      Hi Tonya,
      I’ve met quite a few ‘traveling’ nurses, therapist, in the medical field and most of the places they work at will find them a place to park their RVs, and usually negotiate a $ or even pick up the tab. Check with the organization/hospital/clinic and negotiate your best contract. A lot of rural areas are hurting for qualified people and would think you wouldn’t want to be in the city!!!! JMHO, Chuck

    • ct says:

      Usually a private campground is not too concerned about how long you stay. If you can pay, you can stay. Some private campgrounds don’t allow RVs older than 10 years, especially if they look like they’re in bad condition. But I know RVers with older rigs that are well maintained & in good condition & they’ve not had a problem.

      • Reine says:

        From what I’ve read, the places with the “age limits” on the motorhome usually have prices that you wouldn’t want to pay so they’re really not a big loss. I had one Casita friend that was “rejected” by a RV park because his rig wasn’t BIG ENOUGH. That park didn’t want anyone with a rig smaller than 25 feet. It takes all types but pretty much if they’re too snooty for a Casita, then they have an attitude that I don’t want to be around.

  21. Tom says:

    Nice report re bear butte

  22. Chuck says:

    Great pix as usual Sue! Hope your Dell is a bulletproof as Geris has been though she’s b’ing that it’s on it’s last legs(it’s about 5 yrs old….;>) Chuck

  23. Cari says:

    I’m glad you were able to get your problems solved with the laptop and camera. Thanks again for bringing us along with you on your travels! I look forward to the time when I can join you out on the road.

  24. Lew Johns says:

    Sue, was the smoke bad in the Northern Hills like it was around Hot Springs?


  25. mickent says:

    The fine dust found in desert areas is very hard on machinery of any type. Your camera should be kept in a case at all times, except when actually taking a picture, and don’t take pictures of dust storms. Blowing air at a camera or computer is likely to drive the grit deeper into the unit. Use a vacuum cleaner or just a soft brush. Don’t use the laptop outside when the wind is blowing. Some TLC will give you a nice payback. I love Dell and you,my virtual friend. LOL

  26. rvwayoflife by Lindadeeza says:

    Woohoo, a new computer and a sorta new camera. Shame on Walmart. Didn’t they know they had a famous writer/photographer wanting to make an exchange and didn’t they know how many people look at your pictures. Nikon should “give” you one of their top of the line cameras. Just kidding, your pictures are great. I too am glad you go through great lengths to post your blog. If I had a Kindle, I would for sure subscribe to your blog. Hopefully your new computer is too new for you to get the Malware threat. Thanks for keeping me entertained.

  27. PamP says:

    We’re glad we’re worth $5! We’d take up a collection to read your postings if necessary! Hope you can enjoy Yellowstone. It’s fabulous, but a couple of million other visitors think so too.

  28. Sharon says:

    That Spikey, always has to cool his tummy. Great pictures.

  29. G says:

    Sue, looking at the pics you posted for July 6th, I see your BLT next to a tree with what looks like a pretty bad storm approaching. Do you take into account when parking your BLT the tree you are sitting under for possible falling branches during a storm.
    I used to live on an acre with many trees and I was always amazed on what kind of branches would fall from what I would consider pretty solid trees when a really bad storm would pass by.
    Just wondering if that was ever an issue or have you seen it happen in your travels yet.

    Thanks as always, G

  30. Lew Johns says:

    Sue, if you aren’t already West of them there is a free USFS CG at the bottom of Tensleep Canyon on the West side of the Bighorns on US16. Whatever you do do NOT go down Alt 14 on the West side of the Bighorns. We lost our brakes on that one. Steepest longest mountain grade I’ve ever been on. 12% for about 11Mi.

    One of our favorite CGs is the USFS Falls CG a few miles West of DuBois, Wy.


  31. Cathie Laurent says:

    Spike and the water just cracks me up! He just looks perfectly content!

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