Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming

October 12, 2015

Taking advantage of the good weather a long but pleasant drive was made to Devils Tower National Monument

photo
Crossing Montana

Pronghorns are a common sight. Many people confused them with antelopes due to their close resemblance to true antelopes of the Old Word. Due to convergent evolution they fill a similar ecological niche

photo
Pronghorns

Devils Tower rises above the surrounding grassland and Ponderosa pine forests like a rocky sentinel. Northern Plains Tribes have lived and held ceremonies near this remarkable geologic formation for thousands of years.

photo
Reaching Devils Tower

Fur trappers, explorers, and settlers alike were awed by the tower's majesty. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt established Devils Tower as the United States first national monument.

photo
Boundary Trail

On your way to the visitor center you can spend a few minutes to admire the prairie dogs.

In companies that use large numbers of cubicles in a common space, employees sometimes use the term "prairie dogging" to refer to the action of several people simultaneously looking over the walls of their cubicles in response to a noise or other distraction. This action is thought to resemble the startled response of a group of prairie dogs

photo
Prairie Dog

Most of the landscape surrounding Devils Tower is composed of sedimentary rocks. These rocks are formed from broken or dissolved fragments of other rocks and are usually deposited by water or wind.

photo

Devils Tower is a stock—a small intrusive body formed by magma which cooled underground and was later exposed by erosion.

photo

The magma which formed Devils Tower cooled and crystallized into a rock type known as phonolite porphyry.

As the rock cooled, it contracted, forming hexagonal (and sometime 4-, 5- and 7-sided) columns separated by vertical cracks.

photo

Devils Tower National Monument holds a rich diversity of plants and animals. Ponderosa Pine forests that play host to Mule and White Deer, Porcupines and the Burr Oak. Cottonwood dotted floodplain fields support the Prairie Dog, Turkey, and Rattlesnake.

photo

The 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind used the formation as a plot element and as the location of its climactic scenes. Its release was the cause of a large increase in visitors and climbers to the monument.

photo

Hundreds of climbers scale the sheer rock walls of Devils Tower each summer. All climbers are required to register with a park ranger before and after attempting a climb. No overnight camping at the summit is allowed; climbers return to base on the same day they ascend.

photo

The Tower is sacred to several Plains tribes, including the Lakota, Cheyenne and Kiowa. Because of this, many Indian leaders objected to climbers ascending the monument, considering this to be a desecration.

photo

The climbers argued that they had a right to climb the Tower, since it is on federal land. A compromise was eventually reached with a voluntary climbing ban during the month of June when the tribes are conducting ceremonies around the monument.

photo

Climbers are asked, but not required, to stay off the Tower in June. According to the PBS documentary In the Light of Reverence, approximately 85% of climbers honor the ban and voluntarily choose not to climb the Tower during the month of June.

How to get there

photo

From Vancouver, take I5 South and then I-90E

Driving distance from Vancouver: 2,010 km (1.256 mi)
Driving time from Vancouver: Approx. 19 hours