So here it is, our long-awaited travelogue from remote Eastern Montana. We've included Devil's Tower on this page so that it gets at least one hit eventually. So… we were at Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and we wanted to go to Devil's Tower so we decided to travel through Eastern Montana just because the map said it was theoretically possible. We started in Glendive because Glendive is quite possibly the only city in this region that has a hotel. However Glendive is worth a visit. Just on the edge of town is the rather impressive Makoshika State Park. This is a view from the state park back towards Glendive.
Makoshika is a badlands area and it really has almost all the same features as the more notable badlands in North and South Dakota, it's just a smaller area. It also has relatively poor marketing. We knew nothing about it but it's a state park on the map so it must have some interest… right? There are several nice trails through the assorted weird features that badlands create. If you have a passing interest in paleontology and/or geology there is an excellent window into both sciences here.
Glendive is also home to a dinosaur museum. Now, just in case anyone reads this page and decides to visit somewhere because of it, we need to mention that there are two dinosaur museums in Glendive. One of them is based on a religious view of history and has a shiny building next to the interstate. The other has a scientific view of history and is in 'downtown' Glendive. It's pictured here. Oh yeah, it's also in the back of a music store. Just go in and tell them you'd like to see the dinosaurs. They actually have a truly remarkable collection for the back of a music store in a remote small town.
Moving south we drove down from Baker, Montana towards the southeast corner of the state. This is a scenic ranching area where we saw quite a few pronghorn antelope roaming about. Online travel maps are downright terrible at estimating travel time out here, just ignore them. The next item of interest on the map is the other state park in southeast Montana - Medicine Rocks.
Medicine Rocks is a clump of strangely eroded rock formations on a hill in an otherwise featureless part of Montana. There are no trails and no facilities to speak of. Drive in, find an interesting set of rocks, park nearby and start exploring. It's relatively straightforward to scramble to the top of several of the formations.
There are also a variety of tunnels and caves to explore. One out of one toddlers find it to be great fun. Medicine Rocks is just a short drive north of Ekalaka where you'll find a very limited set of dining options and yet another small but impressive dinosaur museum at the Carter County Museum. If you're driving through Carter County you might as well stop. It's free and there's not much else to do in town.
From Ekalaka you can travel further south, cross into Wyoming on one of several small roads and approach Devil's Tower from the north. This is almost certainly the least-used route to Devil's Tower but it's scenic and you'll get some great views of the rock from afar. Actually, it appears that no matter which approach one uses, there will be great views.
Devil's Tower is one of those landmarks that really is as impressive in person as it is in photographs. It is technically a laccolith - basically a volcanic blob that deforms the rocks around it. After everything around erodes away over time you can end up with something like this. One of the most interesting things we learned here is that the relatively flat top is an open grassy meadow.
Devil's Tower National Monument is a relatively small square-shaped parcel with the tower in the center. There is a paved ring loop around the tower which is just over a mile in length (about 2k). There is also a trail to a parallel ridge which has good views back at the tower.
Apart from that there is a campground below the main plateau and a prairie dog colony. Unless you're planning to climb the tower and have a picnic in the meadow up top - a half day is about the most you could really spend here.