Devil's Tower and the Cloud Peak Skyway

I think my first encounter with Devil’s Tower was as a teenager watching Richard Dreyfuss sculpt the monument out of mashed potatoes in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Since that time, visiting the so far unexplained rock formation protruding from the surrounding grassland and forest has been on my list of places I wanted to visit.

I don’t know, maybe it is an ancient alien landing pad. I did notice a selection of stuffed aliens and other Close Encounter items on the shelf at the trading post.

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We were still in the rain when we left Interstate 90 just after Sundance at the junction with US Hwy 14, but the approach to the tower surprised me at how beautiful it was. Had it not been raining, it would have been a delightful road to ride, but as the road was wet I had to be content with how beautiful the countryside was.

Fortunately, as we pulled into the parking lot of the Trading Post, the rain stopped and we were able to view the tower as the clouds parted and the sun came out.

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The view from the other side of the Trading Post was much better than the view from the parking lot. The recent rain helped the colors of the landscape pop and I wasn’t disappointed to see in person what I had seen so many photographs of over the years. Who says the creator doesn’t have a sense of humor or express a little artistic flair every now and again.

Looking southwest from Devil’s Tower it looked like we might just skirt past the rain we’d just come through, so I decided (in the gambling spirit of Wild Bill Hickok) to shed my rain gear and face the elements.

“You feeling brave?” asked Kelly as he and Chris mounted up.

“Yes I am,” I said. “I’m living life on the edge today.”

I chose wisely. We didn’t see another drop of rain for the rest of the day’s ride to Thermopolis.

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I’ve never heard it called the Cloud Peak Skyway (I’ve always heard it referred to as Powder River Pass), but regardless of what you call it, it not only looked good on the Butler Map it was a beautiful ride from Buffalo into Worland.

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The Ten Sleep Canyon section as we descended from the summit was particularly fun if you really enjoy riding a mountain pass. Most of the riding in Wyoming feels this way. Long stretches of high desert interrupted by beautiful mountain passes.

We stopped for lunch in Buffalo before we tackled the pass and fueled up in Worland on the other side. The Brunette is sporting a six-gallon gas tank along with a very fuel efficient Milwaukee 8 engine, that sips fuel, increasing the range between fuel stops by at least 60 or 70 miles—something you notice in the middle of the Wyoming desert landscape.

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We arrived in Thermopolis sometime in the mid-afternoon with plenty of time to wash the rain spots and road grime off the bikes before heading to dinner. I noticed a couple of sprinkles on the way back to the hotel and was able to talk the desk manager into allowing me park under the breezeway to keep the Brunette clean for the next day’s ride.

All in all, a great day on the bike. We saw for ourselves an enigmatic landmark that was every bit as impressive as I’d imagined and discovered another beautiful mountain pass custom made for a motorcycle.