There's really nothing else like it. Even if you haven't sculpted it with mashed potatoes or trashed your living room and alienated your family trying to build a replica of it with dirt, shrubs, and chicken wire like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, it's still a sight to see. You'd figure that there would be some other spires around, maybe smaller ones or at least cliffs or something, but it's really the only thing there.

Devils Tower was the first national monument in the United States, established on September 24, 1906. It is located approximately 70 miles north of Gilette in northeast Wyoming, and can easily be seen not just from the approach road (Route 24), but from miles away. It stands 865 feet tall, and was formed first by the intrusion of igneous rock, followed by the erosion of surrounding sedimentary rock. Lichens and moss grow on the tower, and birds and squirrels live on the tower's flat summit.

The 1,347 acre monument area includes a campground, a small museum, a prairie dog town, and several hiking trails. They have these tiny little metal pipes secured into the ground, so that when you look through them, you're focused on one particular spot on the tower (it's really hard to see otherwise). On one side you can see the remains of a big wooden peg ladder that two guys made way back in 1893 when nobody had ever scaled it. Several hundred people climb it every year now, which has led to legislation restricting climbing, due to its deleterious affect to the structure, and the fact that it remains a sacred place for nearby Native American tribes. This seems to be a heated issue among the climbing community and Native Americans.

Perhaps more interesting than the climbing issue is the legend of how the tower was formed. Apparently these girls were running away from this bear, see, and they jumped on top of this big rock. Being the pious girls that they were, they began to pray to the rock to save them. Somehow, the rock defied all known laws of physics and grew to its present height to help the girls get away from the bear. The bear angrily scratched his claws against the rock, leaving the vertical striations seen today. Sadly, the girls lacked the foresight to figure out how to get down (I suppose they assumed the rock was going to shrink once the bear went away), and consequently ended up as large balls of hydrogren and helium gas in the constellation Pleiades. Riiiiiiiiiiight....

Devils Tower National Monument is open all the time. The campground is open from April to October, and the visitor's center is open year-round between the hours of 9 am to 4 pm. Parking is $8, and a night camping permit is $12.

Contacting Devils Tower:

Write to:
P.O. Box 10
Devils Tower, WY 82714

Or call:
(307) 467-5283

The forested hill immediately surrounding the Devil's Tower spire is littered everywhere with large boulders. The paths that circle the tower zig zag in and out of these piles of rocks making for some interesting walking. Since the tower itself is a volcanic remnant, it has a striped appearance that looks like it was scraped with a fork. Slivers of the tower periodically break off and fall to the forest below creating these mammoth rock piles. This is probably another idea why it's a bad idea to climb it. Of course, when I visited, there were no less than three people climbing the tower that day. *shrug*

The prairie dogs found along the road leading to the tower have been fed by tourists so much they will come right up to your car to beg. When Wendy and I visited, I got out to have a look (since I had never seen a prairie dog before) and several of the critters walked right up and tried to bite me. No good. Stay in your car.

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