Close Encounters has been on my Top 10 Favorite Movies list for 35 years so I was predictably excited about visiting Devils Tower, our nation’s first national monument. As we drove through Wyoming I waited for it to appear on the horizon the way I did as a child in the 60s approaching Disneyland, watching from the backseat of the family Studebaker for the first sighting of the Matterhorn.
As one explores the world it’s interesting to note how the natural and manmade wonders you’ve come to know in photos and films hold up to face-to-face scrutiny. The Eiffel Tower [990 ft] seemed smaller in person. The Mona Lisa? [30”x21”]—a LOT smaller. Devils Tower [800+ft to 1200+ft, depending how you measure it] was larger and just as spooky as expected. You can see it from miles away, aggressively sticking up from the flat land surrounding it. The Great Pyramid [455 ft] definitely delivers, as does the Sphinx [200 ft long]. Mount Rushmore with its 60-ft heads wasn’t so much smaller as it was further away than I imagined it would be. I’m shocked to learn as an adult that Disney’s enormous Matterhorn was actually only 15 stories high.
What have you seen on your travels that have met, exceeded or fell short of your expectations?
PS: Campsites are plentiful near Devils Tower. Just drive right up to it from I-90 (seriously, you can’t miss it) and you’ll pass several campgrounds with great views to choose from—there’s even an accommodating little town near the park entrance with a post office, campground and store. Hikers and rock climbers, simply register at the visitor center and you’re free to scramble all over the Tower. Promise not to disturb the Native American prayer bundles.