Team Amirault's Taj II touring America & Canada Blog

A Close Encounter with the first National monument.

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Ever since I saw the movie “Close Encounters of a Third Kind” with Richard Dreyfus among other sci fi experienced types – I was determined to visit this amazing place. It lived up to its billing and it was magical, serene, glorious and spiritual. And we found out that it was the first National Monument!

The Lakota Sioux still come to this site to offer prayers and there are several Native American stories about a it’s origin. One about three little girls escaping a grizzly Bear – they jumped on a small mound which grew larger to protect them and another with a bear’s huge claws responsible for the ridges in the Tower.

Geologists say it is the volcanic plug that remained from a giant volcano was eroded by wind and rain over millions of years. I still think the aliens built it…..there’s plenty of room for a spacecraft to land on the surrounding plains.

Although there was no alien space ship there for this visit we spent a couple of hours there – walking around it and taking pictures from every angle. We did not sign up to climb it although that is allowed with special equipment. We didn’t see anyone climbing but for me even imagining it is scary.

It’s very large – higher than you thought – there is soil and grass on top – it’s big enough for a garden. The rocks below are the result of pieces breaking off the structure all the time. If you watch you might see one fall. The tribes members leave prayer scarfs tied to trees to honor their ancestors or personal wishes.

People flock to this sight – on motorcycles, on cars, RVs and buses – it calls you to it with a magnetic like force. That first glimpse you get as you round the hills on the highway is so compelling everyone stops for a photo.

Here’s a prairie dog looking fondly toward the Tower. 😜 They May wonder what all the fuss is about. But the landscape around the Tower seems very unusual – so for us it seems other worldly.

And then we took a trip through the old mining and rough towns in western South Dakota. We did a quick ride through Sturgis but it’s not very impressive without the 750,000 motorcycles that arrive in August every year. Then we drove through Spearfish, little tiny Whitewood, the beautiful deep Cheyenne Canyon, charming ski town Lead, and the wild town of Deadwood.

We had a great lunch (although Rick had breakfast) at Cheyenne Canyon Cafe – a sweet crossroads place inside the Canyon – the only place to eat for many miles.

The hotel above has a fabulous restaurant called Legends – we’ll stop there someday. There’s a very western cowboy feel about Deadwood even though it’s got paved streets and sidewalks.

A big check mark on the bucket list and a great time had by all on this trip to old SD.

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