Good morning! While I was hanging laundry out in the cool morning breeze, it was hard to remember how hot the beginning of our Yellowstone vacation was. Once we got to Yellowstone, the heat wave had moved west and we had beautiful (even chilly) weather, but the drive out was hot, hot!
Thankfully, by being flexible and making some changes, we were able to enjoy the drive through Wyoming and our stay at Devil’s Tower just like we enjoyed our stay at the Badlands: in spite of the heat!
Instead of a second day hiking and exploring the Badlands, we left Buffalo Gap/Badlands dispersed camping early in the morning to get to our next camping spot before the mid afternoon heat.
We had planned short drive days to keep the husband (and only driver) happy, so it was an easy 4 hour (3 without stops) drive on I90 to Devil’s Tower.
Belle Fourche River Campground at Devil’s Tower
Belle Fourche River Campground is a $20 a night, non reserve, first come/first serve campground at Devil’s Tower National monument with a Great View! It does not have electric hook ups or a dump station, but water hydrants are available.
The spigots are not threaded, so you need to use a water bandit. One end of a water bandit has threads for a hose, the other end just slips over the spigot. Ease into using it when turning the spigot on, if there is a lot of water pressure, it can blow off the spigot and spray everywhere. The extra shower did feel nice on the hot, hot day and it amused the husband, the children and the host!
Belle Fourche River campground has an A and B loop with 40ish total camp spots.
They are smaller, pull along side the road camp spots, but we saw motorhomes and larger RVs there also.
Our 5th wheel camper would not fit in all the spots, but we had researched and watched several videos before we left home to make sure there were plenty of choices. We also had phone numbers of 2 nearby campgrounds, in case Belle Fourche was full.
That was not a problem though. When we pulled in at lunchtime on a Friday, there were plenty of spots. The host said it is usually only full on holiday weekends.
After an easy cold lunch of sandwiches, we discovered that the monument parking area was not as empty.
While they have added a parking lot since our 2012 visit, it is still hard to find a spot.
There is definitely not room to drive a camper through, but they provide a parking lot to unhitch near the campground and we saw several campers there.
Since the truck temperature actually said 96 degrees, then 99 degrees and finally 100 degrees, we decided to go back later for a hike around Devil’s Tower. After getting a map and shopping (always need postcards for grandbaby) we went for a drive to enjoy the truck’s air conditioning.
The nearby town of Hulett was a nice, scenic 10 mile drive and it has the closest gas/diesel station, so we could fill up the truck while cooling off.
Changing Plans Again
After running the generator and camper air conditioner for a few hours, we were cooler, but the forecast was not.
So, we changed our plans again!
Our original plan was to stay 2 nights at Badlands dispersed, 1 at Devil’s Tower and then drive straight to Rex Hale campground. It was changed to 1 night at Badlands, 2 at Devil’s Tower and then straight to Rex Hale campground.
Since the drive from Devil’s Tower straight to Rex Hale is mapped at 6 hours- before breaks, lunch, mountains and excess heat and it was our longest (and hottest!) drive day, we decide to change plans again.
Now, our plans were 1 night at Badlands, 1 night at Devil’s Tower and 1 night somewhere with electricity.
Thankfully, at Belle Fourche we had a cell signal. We couldn’t Duo call the grandbaby, but we could call. We could also look up and call campgrounds.
Buffalo, WY, is a larger town partway between Devil’s Tower and Rex Hale campground. After looking at websites, reserve websites and a few phone calls, we found a spot with electricity at Indian Creak campground.
Since Buffalo was only a 2 ½ hour drive, we decided to take a cool, early morning hike around Devil’s Tower before we left the next day.
Thankfully, a short thunderstorm blew in and cooled off the evening. There was a little rain, mostly it was wind and distant lightning. Tenters scrambled to quickly put out campfires and put stuff away, but the tents didn’t blow down, no one left and it was sooo much cooler.
Enjoying a Hike Around Devil’s Tower
The next morning was perfect for our early hike.
At 7:10 we started our hike. It took 1 ½ hours, but I am a slow (not quite extinct) campasaurus. Thankfully,it was easy to get a parking spot so early in the morning and very few people were on the trails.
The walk around Devil’s Tower has plenty of shade and benches to rest. The first 20 feet are the worst part of the whole trail, it is steep. There was some new sidewalk construction though, so it will probably be different next year.
The middle one enjoyed an audio tour while walking around Devil’s Tower. It was a download from a Wyoming rest area. The youngest, but taller than me and in high school , loved going ahead of us and exploring on his own. I loved the paved, 2 person wide trail. It was a great morning hike before we headed to Buffalo, Wy.
I wanted to include our stay at Buffalo, driving over the Big Horn Mountains and Rex Hale campground in this post, but I don’t want it to be tooooo long. I promise not to have more posts than vacation days (which the husband says is toooo much!), but I learned so much about the route and want to share it. Hopefully, you can enjoy our vacation adventures and pictures, and maybe they will help you if you vacation at Devil’s Tower or Yellowstone!
Happy Camping (or early morning hiking!)