- Devils Tower Trading Post
- 57 Highway 110 - P.O. Box 115
- Wyoming 82714 - United States
Devils Tower National Monument, located in northeastern Wyoming, is a striking geological feature and an important cultural and natural landmark. Here's a brief overview of its history:
Geological Formation: Devils Tower is a unique igneous intrusion that rises approximately 1,267 feet (386 meters) above the Belle Fourche River. It was formed around 50 million years ago during the Eocene epoch when molten magma pushed its way up into the existing sedimentary rocks. Over time, the softer sedimentary rock eroded away, exposing the remarkable tower-like formation that we see today.
Native American Significance: Devils Tower holds great spiritual and cultural significance for several Native American tribes, including the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, and Shoshone. Many of these tribes have oral traditions and legends associated with the formation. The Lakota people call it "Mato Tipila," meaning "Bear Lodge," and it is considered a sacred site for ceremonies, vision quests, and prayers.
Recognition and Protection: In 1906, Devils Tower became the first national monument in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed it a national monument under the authority of the Antiquities Act, aiming to preserve its unique geological and cultural values. The monument encompasses an area of about 1,347 acres.
Recreation and Tourism: Devils Tower National Monument attracts visitors from around the world who come to marvel at its majestic presence and explore its surrounding landscapes. It offers various recreational opportunities, including hiking trails, rock climbing (with a climbing permit), picnicking, and wildlife viewing. The monument's visitor center provides exhibits on the geology, history, and cultural significance of the area.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Devils Tower gained additional fame through its prominent role in the 1977 science fiction film, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," directed by Steven Spielberg. The film depicted Devils Tower as a landing site for extraterrestrial beings, bringing further attention and interest to the monument.
Preservation and Conservation: The National Park Service manages Devils Tower National Monument, working to protect its geological formations, wildlife habitat, and cultural resources. Efforts are made to balance visitor access with the preservation of the natural and cultural integrity of the site.
Devils Tower National Monument stands as a testament to the Earth's geological wonders and the rich cultural heritage of Native American tribes. Its unique formation and spiritual significance continue to captivate and inspire visitors from around the world.
Devils Tower National Monument is renowned for its fascinating geology. Here's a closer look at the geological features and processes that have shaped this iconic formation:
- Formation: Devils Tower is a type of igneous intrusion known as a phonolite porphyry. It was formed through the solidification of magma that intruded into the existing sedimentary rocks. Around 50 million years ago, molten magma pushed its way up through the Earth's crust, but instead of reaching the surface and erupting as a volcano, it cooled and hardened beneath the surface.
- Columnar Jointing: One of the most distinctive features of Devils Tower is its columnar jointing. The tower is composed of vertical columns that are predominantly hexagonal in shape, although some have four, five, or seven sides. These columns are the result of the cooling and contraction of the magma as it solidified. As the magma cooled, it contracted and fractured into these geometric shapes, forming the characteristic vertical columns.
- Erosion and Exfoliation: Over millions of years, the surrounding sedimentary rock layers eroded away, gradually exposing Devils Tower. The erosive forces of wind, water, and ice contributed to the removal of the softer sedimentary rocks, leaving behind the more resistant igneous tower.
- Exfoliation is another important geological process that has shaped Devils Tower. It occurs when outer layers of rock peel away or flake off due to the release of pressure. As the overlying sedimentary rocks eroded, the pressure on the underlying igneous rock reduced, causing the outer layers of the tower to crack and peel away, revealing the characteristic columnar structure.
- Cross-Cutting Dikes: Devils Tower is also intersected by cross-cutting dikes. These are narrower vertical or near-vertical features that cut across the main tower and are composed of a different type of rock known as lamprophyre. These dikes formed when additional magma intruded into the existing rock layers, but they didn't reach the surface and form a volcano.
- Cultural and Geological Significance: Devils Tower holds great cultural and spiritual significance for Native American tribes in the region. Its unique geology and striking appearance have made it an iconic landmark and a popular destination for climbers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. The geologic processes that formed Devils Tower highlight the dynamic nature of our planet and provide a glimpse into the ancient geological history of the area.
Devils Tower National Monument serves as a living testament to the forces that shape our planet and the interplay between geology, erosion, and cultural significance. Its geological features continue to captivate and inspire visitors, making it a cherished destination for those interested in the Earth's natural wonders.
Native American cultural beliefs
Native American cultural beliefs encompass a rich and diverse range of spiritual and philosophical perspectives held by the indigenous peoples of North America. These beliefs vary among different tribes and nations, each with their own unique traditions and practices. Here are some key aspects of Native American cultural beliefs:
- Spirituality and Animism: Many Native American tribes share a belief in the interconnectedness of all things in the natural world. They often practice animism, which is the belief that all living and non-living entities possess a spirit or essence. Mountains, rivers, animals, plants, and celestial bodies are seen as possessing spiritual energy and are often regarded as sacred. Native Americans hold deep respect for nature and strive to live in harmony with the natural world.
- Sacred Land and Ancestral Connections: Native Americans have a strong connection to the land and consider it sacred. They believe that the land is not merely a resource to be exploited but a living entity that sustains and provides for them. Many tribes have ancestral lands that hold significant spiritual and cultural importance, serving as the foundation for their identity and traditions.
- Ceremonies and Rituals: Ceremonies play a crucial role in Native American culture, serving as a means of connecting with the spiritual realm and maintaining balance and harmony. These ceremonies vary among tribes but often involve prayer, song, dance, storytelling, and the use of sacred objects such as feathers, drums, and herbs. Sweatlodges, vision quests, sun dances, and smudging rituals (burning of sacred herbs) are examples of important ceremonial practices.
- Medicine and Healing: Native American cultures have developed their own systems of medicine and healing, which incorporate spiritual and herbal remedies. Medicine people or healers, often known as shamans or medicine men/women, serve as spiritual leaders and practitioners of traditional medicine. They believe that illness and disharmony result from imbalances in the body, mind, and spirit, and they use rituals, herbs, and energy work to facilitate healing.
- Ancestral Wisdom and Oral Tradition: Native American cultures place great value on the wisdom passed down through generations. Oral tradition is central to their cultural heritage, with stories, legends, and teachings passed on verbally from elders to younger generations. These narratives convey important moral lessons, historical events, creation stories, and the tribal knowledge necessary for cultural continuity.
- Respect for Elders and Community: Native American cultures emphasize the importance of communal living and intergenerational relationships. Elders hold a position of reverence and are regarded as the keepers of wisdom and cultural knowledge. They play a vital role in decision-making and guiding the community. Respect for elders, communal harmony, and collective well-being are valued principles in many Native American societies.
It's important to note that Native American cultural beliefs and practices are diverse and varied, and individual tribes have their own unique traditions and spiritual practices. Understanding and appreciating the richness and complexity of Native American cultures requires recognizing and respecting this diversity while also acknowledging the shared themes of spirituality, connection to the land, and a deep reverence for the natural world.
Devils Tower National Monument is a popular destination for rock climbers from around the world. The tower's unique geological formation and stunning vertical columns make it an appealing challenge for climbers of various skill levels. Here's some information about climbing at Devils Tower:
- Permits and Regulations: Climbing at Devils Tower requires a climbing permit, which can be obtained at the park's visitor center. Permits are free, and climbers are encouraged to register their climb and check-in upon completion. The purpose of the permit system is to ensure safety, minimize impacts on the rock, and respect the cultural and spiritual significance of the monument to Native American tribes.
- Climbing Routes: Devils Tower offers a variety of climbing routes, ranging from moderate to extremely challenging. The routes follow the vertical or near-vertical columns, providing climbers with a unique and exhilarating experience. Some popular routes include the Durrance Route, Bon Homme Variation, El Matador, Soler, and Walt Bailey Route. Each route has its own difficulty rating and characteristics, so climbers should choose routes that match their skill level and experience.
- Climbing Season: The climbing season at Devils Tower typically runs from mid-June to mid-September. During this time, weather conditions are generally more favorable, with milder temperatures and less precipitation. It's important to note that climbing may be restricted during certain periods to protect nesting peregrine falcons, so it's advisable to check for any temporary closures before planning a climb.
- Safety Considerations: Climbing at Devils Tower requires appropriate gear and technical climbing skills. The tower's vertical nature, exposure, and intricate columnar structure demand caution and experience. It's recommended that climbers have prior multi-pitch climbing experience and the necessary equipment, including ropes, harnesses, helmets, and protective gear. Climbers should also be aware of potential hazards, such as loose rocks, changing weather conditions, and wildlife encounters.
- Respect for the Rock and Cultural Significance: Climbers at Devils Tower are encouraged to respect the rock and minimize their impact on the monument. Chalk is not allowed on the tower to preserve its natural appearance. Additionally, climbers should be mindful of the cultural and spiritual significance of Devils Tower to Native American tribes. It is important to approach the monument with reverence and avoid disturbing or interfering with any cultural practices or ceremonies that may be taking place.
Climbing at Devils Tower offers a unique and memorable experience for outdoor enthusiasts. The combination of challenging routes, breathtaking views, and the tower's geological and cultural significance makes it a sought-after destination for climbers seeking adventure in a spectacular natural setting.
Devils Tower National Monument provides a diverse habitat that supports a range of wildlife species. Here are some examples of the wildlife you may encounter in and around Devils Tower:Mammals:
- Prairie Dogs: These small, burrowing rodents are common in the grasslands surrounding Devils Tower. They live in extensive underground colonies known as "towns" and play an important role in the ecosystem.
- White-tailed Deer: These graceful deer can be found in the woodland areas near the tower, feeding on vegetation and browsing on shrubs and trees.
- Elk: Occasionally, elk can be seen near Devils Tower, particularly in the fall during the mating season (rut). They are the largest species of deer in North America.
- Coyotes: These adaptable predators are often spotted in the park. They are known for their distinctive howls and are skilled hunters and scavengers.
- Bobcats: Although elusive and seldom seen, bobcats inhabit the park and are skilled hunters of small mammals.
- Peregrine Falcons: Devils Tower is an important nesting site for peregrine falcons, which are known for their incredible speed and hunting prowess. These birds of prey have made a successful comeback after being endangered.
- Golden Eagles: These majestic birds can be seen soaring above the tower and surrounding cliffs. They are powerful hunters and feed on small mammals and other birds.
- Red-tailed Hawks: These raptors are commonly seen in the area, soaring in the skies or perched on high vantage points. They have a distinctive red tail and hunt small mammals and birds.
- Songbirds: The diverse habitat around Devils Tower attracts a variety of songbirds, including meadowlarks, sparrows, warblers, and woodpeckers. They add melodic sounds and vibrant colors to the park.
- Prairie Rattlesnake: This venomous snake is native to the grasslands and rocky areas near Devils Tower. Visitors should exercise caution and give them a wide berth if encountered.
- Plains Garter Snake: These harmless snakes are commonly found in the park. They are non-venomous and play a role in controlling rodent populations.
- Western Toad: This amphibian can be found in the moist areas around the tower. They are known for their distinctive calls and contribute to the park's ecosystem by feeding on insects.
In addition to these examples, other wildlife species such as rabbits, ground squirrels, bats, and a variety of insects and butterflies can be found in and around Devils Tower. It's important to remember that wildlife should be observed from a distance, and visitors should respect their natural behaviors and habitats while exploring the park.
In popular culture
Devils Tower National Monument has made several notable appearances in popular culture, cementing its status as an iconic and recognizable landmark. Here are some instances of its portrayal in various forms of media:
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977): The most famous association with Devils Tower is through the science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg. The film prominently features Devils Tower as a landing site for extraterrestrial beings. The stunning visuals of the tower played a significant role in the film's climactic scenes, raising its global recognition and popularity.
"North by Northwest" (1959): Although not explicitly mentioned in the film, Alfred Hitchcock's classic suspense thriller features a memorable chase scene near and on the face of a similar looking but fictionalized rock formation called Mount Rushmore. The scene was inspired by the grandeur of Devils Tower and its distinct vertical columns.
Music Videos: Devils Tower has been featured in several music videos. One notable example is the video for the song "Lay It Down" by the American rock band Ratt. The video showcases the band performing on top of the tower, highlighting its majestic presence.
Literature: Devils Tower has also made appearances in various literary works. It is mentioned in James A. Michener's novel "Centennial," which explores the history of the American West. Additionally, the tower is referenced in several works by renowned authors, including Terry Brooks and Dan Simmons.
Art and Photography: Devils Tower's unique and awe-inspiring form has attracted artists and photographers. It has been depicted in paintings, drawings, and photographs, both as a standalone subject and as part of larger landscapes, capturing its natural beauty and grandeur.
Tourism and Popularity: The fame garnered by Devils Tower through its appearances in popular culture has contributed to its status as a major tourist destination. Visitors come to the monument to witness its striking beauty firsthand, recreate memorable film scenes, and engage in outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing. Devils Tower's cultural significance and captivating appearance have made it an iconic symbol, leaving a lasting impression on popular culture. Its presence in films, literature, music, and art has contributed to its enduring legacy and increased its recognition on a global scale.