Devils Tower National Monument – A Photo Essay

Devils Tower, an important landmark for Plains Indians tribes long before the white man reached Wyoming, was called Mateo Tepee or Grizzly Bear Lodge by the Sioux. A number of legends describe the origin of Devils Tower.

“One legend tells of seven little girls being chased onto a low rock to escape attacking bears. Their prayers for help were heeded as the rock carried them upward to safety. The claws of the leaping bears left furrowed columns in the sides of the ascending tower. Ultimately, the rock grew so high that the girls reached the sky where they were transformed into the constellation known as Pleiades.” information sign along Hwy 24

Devils Tower rises dramatically 1,280 feet above the picturesque Belle Fourche River. Recognizing its unique characteristics, Congress designated the area a U.S. Forest Reserve in 1892 and then the nation’s first national monument in 1906. The tower was a centerpiece in the 1977 Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

When you spend three weeks on the road visiting many of our nation’s wonderful wild attractions you are bound to have some days when the weather isn’t ideal. My brother Dave and I were really quite fortunate to have mostly bright, sunshiny days for our adventures. Not so, however, on the day we visited Devils Tower. There was a low cloud cover that obscured the top of the tower, and a drizzly mist was falling throughout the time we were there.

We did put on the rain gear for the must see 1.3-mile walk around the base of the Tower though. It starts across the parking area from the Visitor Center. A short, steep section leads you to a junction where you can go either way to walk around the base. The trail goes through ponderosa pine forest and the talus field of fallen boulders. Evidence of periodic prescribed burning can be seen within the forest, the last in 1998.

I did manage to get a few pictures as we approached the tower from miles away on Hwy 24, and from the Tower Trail. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments area below the gallery. Enjoy!



This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.

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