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Wyoming: Make a loop around an iconic rock formation

Movie lovers remember Devils Tower Monument as the alien landing site in a classic science fiction film. Today, visitors can enjoy an equally transcendent experience by taking a majestic loop around the looming landmark.

152.1 miles, 2 hours, 55 minutes

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

1. Newcastle

Starting Point

Newcastle offers an easy opportunity to roam the High Plains and ponder the Black Hills. Explore Canyon Springs Prairie, with its tumbleweeds, sagebrush and expansive blue skies, then travel back in time on the Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage Trail, used by emigrants and miners heading to the gold fields. The gray columns of the Devils Tower, the first U.S. national monument, jut up from the rolling prairie. Formed by magma welling up from the ground, the tower rises 1,267 feet above the surrounding prairie and was considered sacred by the local Lakota people. Hike along trails that meander through forests and meadows near the monument.


2. Sundance

45.5 miles, 56 minutes

Located at the base of the Sundance Mountain, this is the home of breathtaking views, stunning monuments, western beauty and lots of outdoor recreation. During the summer, explore the majestic rock formations from trails that wend through the Black Hills National Forest and Bear Lodge Mountains. Hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and ATVs are welcome to explore the area’s gulches, canyons, ponderosa pine forests and open grasslands. Catch rainbow trout, walleye and bass from the quiet streams and deep lakes.


3. Hulett

36.9 miles, 41 minutes

Surrounded by the Bear Lodge National Forest and the red sandstone cliffs of the Belle Fourche River, Hulett is a picturesque western town rich in history and tradition, a place where “the sidewalk ends and the West begins,” according to locals. The annual Hulett Rodeo, held each June, is a true Western rodeo with bronco riding, calf roping, bull dogging, bareback riding, men’s breakaway roping, women’s barrel racing, bull riding and team roping events. Rookies can throw their hats in the ring for a chance at bronc and bull riding.

Getty Images

Getty Images

4. Moorcroft

41.1 miles, 45 minutes

This bustling town, located on the banks of the Belle Fourche River, is where the highway crosses the Great Western Cattle Trail and spirits of the Old West still linger. Mosey over to the West Texas Trail Museum to learn how Texas longhorn cattle helped give the town its start, as homesteaders came in search of free land. Spend quality time at Keyhole State Park, a haven for resident and migrating birds, pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys and mule deer. Cast a line for tremendous fishing opportunities from the shore and on the lake; take a stroll across the prairie among the purple sage and soak up traces of the old ranching lifestyle that made the region legendary.


5. Gillette

28.6 miles, 33 minutes

Gillette is the home of top-notch festivals like the Rocky Mountain Wild West Wrestling Tournament in February and the Wrangler Team Roping Championships held in the spring. In June, saddle up for the Cowboy States Reining Horse Show, along with the Donkey Creek Festival. The National High School Rodeo and the Christian Motorcycle Western Nationals Rally take place in July. Round up the summer with a bang at the Pyrotechnics Guild International Convention in August. September lights up with the nighttime Electric Glow Run, while October sews up the season with the Northeast Wyoming Quilt Show and the Powder River Collectors Antique and Craft Show.