It’s a cold windy day here in Texas and I got to thinking about the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” For those of us who are fans of Sci-Fi and Aliens, this movie is a classic. Even the Library of Congress has recognized it.
When I started my RV Journey back in June of 2014, one of the places I knew I wanted to see was Devils Tower in Wyoming. It is where the aliens landed and where all of the primary characters in the movie got called to visit.
I have to tell you, I drove into the tower from the west. I had dropped down from Montana back into Wyoming after visiting Little Big Horn and the Custer Memorial. I am very distantly related to Custer, we share a common 7th great grandfather.
Anyway, I expected to see the tower long before I actually did because the surrounding country is wide open. I did not see the tower until I was only few miles from it. The terrain is not as flat as it seems and contours and the path of the road, hid the tower from view. There are actually three towers, but this one is just the most impressive.
Devils Tower is controlled by the National Park Service and as such, is now a typical, sanitized experience with the same expense to get into the park and a visitor center at the top of a one mile road. I got the last spot for RV’s and walked over to the front of the center to get my first up close view of the tower. As I was standing there, I heard many of the people around me saying the same thing I was thinking: there are no references to the movie that literally put the tower on the map.
I walked back across the parking lot and took some additional pictures. There is a walkway you can climb to walk around the base of the tower. Unfortunately, the first 200 or so feet of that path is about a 12% grade and not easy to walk up. I got about half way and could feel both my knees and back screaming, so I went back down. So much for seeing where Richard Dryfess was during the filming.
I drove back down the road and headed east. I was on the road to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. About 5 miles or so from the tower, there is a restaurant called “Tower View Restaurant.” I stopped there for lunch. The place is run by a father and daughter and I got to have a nice conversation with the father. I asked him about no reference to the movie on the tower. He told me that there had been so many “Kooks and Freaks” come to the mountain right after the movie, that the National Park Service shut the tower down. When it re-opened there were strict rules about keeping certain types out. Even the tours are restricted to one company and they have a multi year contract. So, the potential for Close Encounter Tours is largely muted by the Killjoys of the National Park Service.
So space fans, go ahead and visit the Tower, but leave your Aluminum caps at home. Big Brother won’t let you in if you are wearing one.
If you were thinking about visiting Roswell, don’t get too excited. The City of Roswell is trying to kill everything alien there too. The fools don’t understand the value of alien tourism to what otherwise i a toilet of a town. It was like talking to a wall to try to convince them to leave things alone. The alien museum and a few shops are the only things left to see. Sad……