What It Is?
Devils Tower is one of the most bizarre rock formations in this world. It is a nearly perfect column that towers over the surrounding landscape. Pretty much everything around is flat and then, out of nowhere, this crazy rock protrudes from the flat land.
What makes this site even more radical (and truly amazes me) is that the formation is a perfect, real-life example of a tessellation! The huge “grooves” that you see on the side of the tower are actually in a hexagonal pattern and fit perfectly into one another!
Devils Tower is definitely an igneous intrusion – meaning it was formed by magma or lava cooled. However, geologists can’t seem to figure out exactly how it was formed – a mystery that still remains today!
It rises dramatically 1,267 feet (386 m) above the surrounding terrain and the summit is 5,114 feet (1,559 m) above sea level.
Native American Forklore
“According to the Native American tribes of the Kiowa and Lakota Sioux, some girls went out to play and were spotted by several giant bears, who began to chase them. In an effort to escape the bears, the girls climbed atop a rock, fell to their knees, and prayed to the Great Spirit to save them. Hearing their prayers, the Great Spirit made the rock rise from the ground towards the heavens so that the bears could not reach the girls. The bears, in an effort to climb the rock, left deep claw marks in the sides, which had become too steep to climb. (Those are the marks which appear today on the sides of Devils Tower.) When the girls reached the sky, they were turned into the star constellation the Pleiades.” — from Wikipedia.
Still a Sacred Place
Variations of this tale have been told throughout the years by Native Americans. Devils Tower is still a scared place to Native Americans, so visitors are asked to stay on the trail in order to protect the land.
When you walk on the trails, you’ll mostly likely see colored pieces of cloth tied to the branches of the trees. I was told that this is left behind by Native Americans as a prayer and to respect it (by not touching it).
Did You Know?
Devils Tower was the first National Monument in the U.S. declared by Theodore Roosevelt.
What to Do & See
Devils Tower. The park is very small; every activity has something to do with the tower.
Walk. There is a nice and easy walk that circles around the tower [only takes about 20-35 minutes]. The trail has benches to rest and small telescopes in certain places in order to take a look at the top of the tower.
Climb. If you’re really into climbing, then perhaps you’d like to try scaling your way to the top of the tower. Registration is necessary in order to climb which can be found at the bottom of the trail; you are required to sign in before you start and sign out when you are done. Some climbing routes are closed due to nests on the rock. Ask for climbing maps as you enter the park for details on which ones are closed at that time. CLICK HERE for more information about climbing routes and suggestions.
Picnic. Bring your own food if you’d like to munch on something inside the park. There are tables and benches but nowhere to buy snack within the park.
Museum. There is a little museum at the bottom of the trail that you can check out about the history of the tower.
Getting Around: By car to drive up to the tower… on foot to walk around the tower.
Where To Stay: The park is small, so there is no camping or lodging.
Entrance Fee: $15 per car