Part 2/Western Swing

The Texas group "Asleep At the Wheel" does western swing music just about better than anyone. Ray Bensen is a killer guitarist. But I digress this is about a different type of western swing - my swing into the mountains of Wyoming. After two days of riding, I was only 10 miles short of my planned Day 2 campsite at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. I had left early Sunday morning with the goal of being in Livingston, Montana by noon Wednesday for a scheduled business appointment. Ten days of riding had been planned and in preparation I did extensive route building with mapping software and uploaded 9 separate routes into my GPS. I knew the way home from Nashville so I didn't need any help for that leg. This was one of the most valuable things I did and was indispensable!

Wind Cave National Park:

Tuesday's route wound from South Dakota up to Devils Tower and then into the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Once again stuck in a motel room I had watched a South Dakota infomercial for Custer State Park and decided to add it to my list for the day. I briefly visited my original destination of Wind Cave and then headed to Custer SP a few miles up the road. This is one of the nicest parks I have ever been in. The road through it was a twisty hoot and the only traffic I encountered was Buffalo. Tatanka as the Native Americans in the area called them are dangerous. I could have stopped and stroked the nose of a few of these beasts and probably gotten some pictures worthy of National Geographic but I wussed out, crept past the ones in the middle of the road and took pictures from a safe distance. This park is worthy of an extended stay. Check it out HERE. After an hour or so of tooling around the Park I was only about half way through it. I decided to head west on hwy16A towards the town of Custer. The Black Hills smell great! After Custer, Route 16 heads towards Wyoming past Jewel Cave National Monument and the road is memorable with nice sweeping twisties.

Wyoming State line:

This part of Wyoming is oil and cattle country. The topography is rolling and semi-arid. I had just about 100 miles to trek from the state line up to Devils Tower National Monument. Just outside of the town of Sundance I saw a sign that read, "Wyoming Motorcycle Laws - Under 18 must wear helmets, motorcycles burn headlights, no handlebars above shoulder height." They don't want ape hangers in this state! I should have taken a picture but figured I would snap a shot of the next one - which I never came across. State road 14 and 24n up to Devils Tower are fun, sweeping, well paved roads.

Devils Tower:


I've been to this geologic wonder two times before but would never miss an opportunity to return and stare. June is a sacred month here and the tower had Native American prayer bundles laid around the base of what is called "Bear Lodge". Technical climbing is allowed on the monument but not during this month. There is a sense of time and space at Devils Tower that is unique. I spent an hour walking around the base and then headed for points west. I planned on camping in a primitive BLM site on Bald Mountain west of Sheridan a few hundred miles away and it was already noon.

Fast forward to the approach to Sheridan on I-90:

Wyoming route 14 climbing up into the Big Horns is a must ride. A combination of tight and sweeping constant radius curves that goes on for miles.

Approaching the Big Horn Mountains:

Big Horn National Forest entrance:


A small peak:

At the ranger station I was informed that my intended camp site at 9000+ feet was closed because of snow. The temp at the station 1000 feet lower had been 32 degrees that morning and my best bet was a BLM site called Five Springs Falls on the western side of the mountain range. I was disappointed but so far it had been a fantastic day and I didn't mind riding further. In fact these roads were so much fun I didn't want to stop! I then turned onto 14a and headed towards Bald Mountain.

The road ahead:

Road to the Medicine Wheel:

Planned camp area:

Day three ended at a remote BLM campground that had 18 tent sites. I was the only one there. The bulletin board warned that mountain lions and black bears had been seen prowling the area. 417 more miles under my belt, wonderful roads, weather and sights. Just 200 more miles to go to Livingston and my Wednesday afternoon appointment then it would be on to Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks. Life is good! This day more than made up for all the bad weather I had endured.

Five Springs Falls BLM Campground:


Looking West Towards Lovell, WY and Tomorrow's Roads: