This is an ancient post that has been sitting around for a while waiting for me to finish it…it’s almost a year old, but it’s finally up and live! Sorry about the delay… Keep reading to learn a bit about Devils Tower Wyoming!!
After leaving Montana we were headed to Wyoming…Devils Tower to be precise…to celebrate Independence Day. We had our friends the Arnold’s with us so we were guaranteed a fun time, but we didn’t know what to expect. When we came over that first rise and saw it in the distance we knew it was special, but nothing really prepares you for being right on top of it.
There are a couple key pieces of this visit to call out. First, on the very first night we were able to go to the visitor center for a quick stop and they told us about a presentation later that evening on the Native American mythology of the area, and a special visit by President Teddy Roosevelt himself!! Of course we had to do it, so we showed up early for the presentation at the park, which also happened to contain a monument called the ‘Sacred Circle of Smoke’. It was a pretty cool sculpture and I snagged a cool looking shot of the tower inside the circle.
After visiting the sculpture we made our way to the amphitheater. Teddy was already there mixing with the crowd and telling stories. Now of course…I’ve never seen Teddy in person, but this guy was exactly what I had imagined. He was extremely convincing and really just enjoyed the performance. For those that don’t know, the tie to Teddy was that he made Devils Tower the first National Monument…so we had assumed her would speak about that, but instead he gave a great talk about the women in the Roosevelt family and how important they were to forming the president who was know more for his masculinity that anything else. It was a fantastic talk and I think we all learned a lot.
Once Teddy was done speaking the ranger gave a presentation on the mythology of the area and how this place was so culturally significant to the tribes of the area (and still is). The root story was that some girls were being chased by a super sized bear and they asked the great spirit for help. He lifted the land they stood on straight up into the sky and bear scratched and clawed the sides of the mountains trying to get to them. (There are a bunch of variations, but that’s the gist of it). The ranger also spent some time talking about the greater mythos of the tribes, especially the red wheel which they saw as the ring of red rock around the Black Hills area. It was pretty neat to get an understanding of some of that stuff and to be able to physically relate it to the place you were. It was also pretty neat to see that many tribes still treat the tower as a holy place…they tie wished in colorful cloth and tied them to the trees around the base of the tower.
The next day we really got to explore the tower itself. The visitors center isn’t much to write home about…it’s small and there isn’t much to see…but the tower itself is quite the sight. We took a tour around the base and really got to see it up close and personal.
There are many theories of how the tower came to be, but the main idea is that there was a volcano and lava swelled up inside of it and cooled, the erosion basically ate the mountain from around that dried lava. There are a couple other cool features of the tower that make it unique. First, the tower is actually made up of many hexagonal columns. This has to do with the type of igneous material in the lave as it cooled. Second, the rock is what is call lithophonic stone…which means that when you hit it with a hammer it sounds like a bell. Pretty crazy stuff!
The last thing that’s important to call out is that Devils Tower was the focal point of the movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. As a matter of fact, the KOA campground we stayed in is the remnant of the military base in the movie. Of course they play this up at the campground and there are tons of Close Encounters merch to purchase…and they even have an outdoor theatre where you can watch the movie with the actual tower in the background. Of course we went and the kids snuggled up in blankets to watch…It’s pretty cool.
Here is some video footage we captured at the park. It’s a gorgeous place and truly one of a kind. It’s definitely worth the trip if you get up that way!