Sometimes trips don’t go as planned. Sometimes even the best plans don’t work out. That’s what happened on a recent trip to the Northwest US. After a week of beautiful weather, it was raining – and the forecast said it would continue raining for several days to come.
What to do?
We started looking up the weather for different places we could hike instead, but it seemed to be raining everywhere – even Honolulu, Hawaii (yes, we were frustrated enough to look it up!). The only place that it wasn’t raining was the Black Hills of South Dakota. None of us really wanted to go there, but it seemed like the best alternative, so I began looking up new things to do in the area. We found several hikes/views (including the Red Beds Trail in Devil’s Tower National Monument, Warren Peak, Cement Ridge, Spearfish Canyon, and the Castle Trail in Badlands National Park), which saved the end of the trip from disaster. However, the trail I’d like to talk about today has historical interest: Aladdin Tipple Historical Interpretive Park near Sundance, WY. Known as one of the last surviving tipples in the west, the park houses a chute that was used to sort the coal mined nearby before it was transported by railroad to market. The short (about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) RT) trail is an interesting place to stop if you’re in the area, and a must-do if you’re a mining buff traveling down I-90.
Key GPS Coordinates for Aladdin Tipple:
Aladdin Tipple Parking Area: 44.638754N / -104.163389W (44N 38’ 19.5138” / -104W 9’ 48.1998”)
Aladdin Tipple: 44.638907N / -104.162348W (44N 38’ 20.0652” / -104W 9’ 44.4522”)
(All GPS data approximate)
Getting to Aladdin Tipple:
From I-90 in Wyoming, take Exit 199 and turn north on WY-111/County Road 86. Drive 8.6 miles (13.8 km). The road will T into WY-24, turn right (East). Drive 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the parking lot for the Aladdin Tipple, on your left. You will pass through the historical town of Aladdin (population 8) on your way to the tipple; history buffs may want to stop here. The I-90 exit is about 7 miles (11 km) west of the South Dakota/Wyoming boarder and about 10 miles (16 km) east of Sundance, WY.
Start your walk through history by going over to the large entryway/gate that frames the beginning of the trail. This sign reads, “Crook County – State of Wyoming. Aladdin Tipple Historical Interpretive Park”. Walk up the pathway under the entryway. You’ll see some old pits (the remains of structures) along the trail. Before long (a few yards/meters) you’ll see the tipple in front of you. It looks like a large, slanting building that has been built on stilts and that sits parallel to the hillside. (Actually, train cars used to be able to roll right underneath the tipple to catch the coal that the tipple had sorted into nut-sized, egg-sized, and lump-coal grades).
Walk over and enjoy the Aladdin Tipple, but don’t forget to read the signs. These are quite informative about the mine, how the Tipple works, and the history of the area. For whatever reason I started at the wrong end and ended up reading about the mine’s later years before how it got started…so figure out which end you should start at first J
After you’ve admired the tipple, walk around to its other side. This offered us a better view because we visited in the early morning, and the left side was still in shadow. Even if you’re not up to a long hike, don’t stop here. Climb up the steep trail that ascends the hillside. At the top, you can not only see the Aladdin Tipple from above (very interesting!), but you can also get a glimpse of an old mine building, a mine entrance, and an old mining car. I found all of this interesting, so below I’ll post the pictures I took of the signs (click for a larger image – you may need to select a larger size).
Return by the way you came. Although a stop warranting less than an hour, it’s still an interesting place, especially if you love history and historical structures!
Wheelchair accessibility note: I believe that the path is paved, but the site is not specifically “wheelchair accessible”. I would guess that a wheelchair could make it to the Aladdin Tipple viewing area, but not up the hill.
Round Trip Trail Length: Less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km)
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?
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Tue Feb 20
Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High 8F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.
Wed Feb 21
Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 18F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Thu Feb 22
Partly cloudy. High 21F. Winds light and variable.
Fri Feb 23
Mainly sunny. High 21F. Winds light and variable.
Sat Feb 24
A few clouds from time to time. High near 30F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.