I can’t believe I skipped one of our “unplanned but then planned” side trips. We originally endeavored to drive basically straight east from West Yellowstone, traversing Yellowstone National Park and exiting through the East Gate, proceeding down Highway 14 through Cody Wyoming and into Ranchester. But we discovered on our trip to Canyon Center (the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone), that the road through to the East Gate was closed in places because it wasn’t yet plowed, and we had no idea how long it would be until that changed. So, we “re-routed” and backtracked north to Interstate 90.
Wendy’s doctor had heartily suggested that we visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, previously known as Custer’s Last Stand. Our new route brought that into play, and it was a perfect stop for lunch.
But first! In response to the massive appeal by subscribers for help locating the mystery climbers of Devil’s Tower, a clue:
Now, back to the battlefield. This National Park Service monument has its own off ramp from Interstate 90, so there isn’t much of a detour from our BTE. It isn’t a big site, either in size or in infrastructure. There was parking for maybe 75 cars and about 6 or 7 RVs, and the gift shop would be crowded with more than 40 people. But the relatively small size of the site belies the large impact it can have on you.
In June of 1877 George Custer and 276 other members of the 7th Cavalry Regiment were wiped out by several thousand tribal warriors when they foolishly attacked a large native encampment without waiting for reinforcements to arrive. The treeless landscape is bleak, and when we were there, it was cold and windy.
Standing atop the hill that Custer and his men died on, the vastness of the space and image of what it might have looked like with 2 to 3 thousand attacking warriors coming at you, it is easy to imagine the fear and dread those men felt in their final moments. It is a powerful moment, and we’re happy to have taken advantage of it. If you are ever in the neighborhood, it’s a highly recommended stop.
And here’s a bonus Tippy.