I have been traveling a lot across the Midwest and decided that I need to start breaking up the miles with small adventures. Today I happen to be in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Doing a little research, I decided to find something off the beaten path. I found Devil’s Gulch Park in Garretson, South Dakota.
I am told that I share genetics with Jesse James. (I’m still trying to get physical proof of the family tree). However, if unconventional living is genetic, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I have never been one for following the crowd or doing what everyone else is doing.
I read about a historical site that is famous for one of Jesse James getaways in 1876. Devil’s Gulch is a “mini canyon”. According to local lore, Jesse James evaded capture on horseback by spurring his horse to jump this ravine. I figured it would be a nice roadside attraction to break up my drive.
Arriving on a side road with just a road sign to point the way, I found the gate to the gravel road closed. It didn’t say to stay out so I decided to follow in my outlaw ancestors footsteps and jump the fence. I’m guessing the gate just meant don’t drive, so surely hiking would be fine.
I didn’t really account for all of the mud or ice I’d trudge through along the way. My shoes sank in the mud and I struggled to keep my balance on the ice. The eeriest part was the voices I heard carried on the wind from a place I could not identify. It left me looking over my shoulder continually and then snickering to myself when I realized that Jesse James must have done the same in his attempt to escape.
About half a mile up the gravel road I found the gulch. I read the sign that stated Jesse James: “spun his horse and sprinted towards the chasm. With the lawmen watching with mouths agape Jesse’s horse hurled itself across the 20-foot gorge.”
I walked out over the metal grid footbridge that now crosses the gorge, gripping the sides so I didn’t fall on the ice. I decided after standing on the bridge and looking down to the water 60 feet below, this was indeed would have been an impressive feat. I also decided that my rebel ways ended when it came to personal safety and turned around instead of continuing on the ice covered Devil’s Stairway that leads down to the water.
It wasn’t an overly exciting excursion, however, it was a nice break from the drivers seat. I also always feel a little accomplished when I get a little dirt on the shoes.