Devils Tower
National Monument
Wyoming
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Rising Up Against the Sky

"A dark mist lay over the Black Hills, and the land was like iron," N. Scott Momaday wrote. "At the top of the ridge I caught sight of Devil's Tower upthrust against the gray sky as if in the birth of time the core of the earth had broken through its crust and the motion of the world was begun. There are things in nature that engender an awful quiet in the heart of man; Devil's Tower is one of them." Several Indian nations of the Great Plains share similar legends on the origin of this prominent butte. The Kiowa people say:

"Eight children were there at play, seven sisters and their brother. Suddenly the boy was struck dumb; he trembled and began to run upon his hands and feet. His fingers became claws, and his body was covered with fur. Directly there was a bear where the boy had been. The sisters were terrified; they ran, and the bear after them. They came to the stump of a great tree, and the tree spoke to them. It bade them climb upon it, and as they did so it began to rise into the air. The bear came to kill them, but they were just beyond its reach. It reared against the tree and scored the bark all around with its claws. The seven sisters were borne into the sky, and they became the stars of the Big Dipper."

"Bear Lodge" is one of many American Indian names for the Tower. Colonel Richard Dodge named it "Devils Tower" in 1875. He led the military expedition sent to confirm reports of gold being discovered in the Black Hills and to survey the area. Scientists then thought Devils Tower was the core of an ancient volcano. Recent data suggests it is instead an igneous intrusion.

On July 4, 1893, with fanfare and more than 1,000 spectators, William Rogers and Willard Ripley made the first ascent, using a wooden ladder they had built that spring for the first 350 feet. The fact that they already had a flagpole waiting for raising Old Glory atop the Tower suggests the "first ascent" might have been one day before. The climbers' wives ran the refreshment stand and sold pieces of the flag as souvenirs. The Tower became a Fourth of July meeting place for families from area ranches, who might see each other but once a year. At the annual picnic in 1895, Mrs. Rogers used her husband's ladder to become the first woman to reach the summit.

Records of Tower climbs have been kept since 1937. Approximately 5,000 climbers come here every year from all over the world to climb on the massive columns. More than 220 routes have now been used in climbing the Tower.

But there is more to this area than the Tower. Life thrives around its base. Here in Wyoming's northeast corner, Black Hills pine forests merge with rolling plains grasslands. At Devils Tower you can see every phase in the process of establishing a forest—from bare rock to pines. And because mountains and plains converge here, you may find a great variety of birds. More than 150 species have been counted—including hawks, bald and golden eagles, prairie falcon, turkey vulture, and American kestrel. No one will miss the brightness of the male mountain bluebird, the industriousness of the nuthatches, or the feistiness of the black-billed magpie. Predominant mammals are the white-tailed deer and black-tailed prairie dog. You can spend hours watching busy, playful prairie dogs in their "town" on the grasslands below the Tower.

In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the first national monument under the new Antiquities Act. His action made Wyoming the home of both our first national park—Yellowstone in 1872—and our first national monument. Roosevelt acted to protect the Tower from commercial exploitation. Today a broad range of natural and cultural resources and values is also protected here as part of the National Park System.

During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps built road improvements, camping and picnicking facilities, and a museum. The roughhewn log museum still serves as a visitor center, book sales outlet, and the registration office for rock climbers.

The Geological Story

park map

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About 60 million years ago molten magma was forced into sedimentary rocks above it and cooled underground. As it cooled it contracted and fractured into columns. An earlier flow formed Little Missouri Buttes. Over millions of years, erosion of the sedimentary rock exposed Devils Tower and accentuated Little Missouri Buttes. The Tower rises 867 feet from its base and stands 1,267 feet above the river and 5,112 feet above sea level. The area of its tear-drop shaped top is 1.5 acres. The diameter of its base is 1,000 feet.

Visiting Devils Tower

Access and Seasons The monument is open year round. The entrance is 33 miles northeast of Moorcroft, Wyo., 27 miles northwest of Sundance, Wyo. via U.S. 14, and 52 miles southwest of Belle Fourche, S. Dak. via S. Dak. 34/Wyo. 24. Scheduled airlines serve Gillette, Wyo., and Rapid City, S. Dak., where cars may be rented. Summer days are warm, but in the evening and early morning you may want a sweater.

Visitor Center The visitor center is three miles from the park's entrance. Open seasonally, it offers exhibits about the Tower's history and geology. Activities are offered from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Parking is limited in summer. Alternative parking is available for oversized vehicles. The Devils Tower Natural History Association operates a bookstore. For publications information write to the Association at P.O. Box 37, Devils Tower, WY 87214-0037.

Hiking Trails The paved Tower Trail offers close-up Tower views, and wayside exhibits tell the Tower's story. Pets are not allowed on trails. Trail distances: Tower Trail 1.3 mi., Red Beds Trail 3 mi., South Side Trail 0.6 mi., Joyner Ridge Trail 1.5 mi., Valley View Trail 0.6 mi.

Camping and Facilities Open seasonally, the monument campground accommodates RVs and tents first-come, first-served. It has three group sites. Each campsite has a cooking grill, picnic table, and nearby potable water. Restrooms are accessible for persons with disabilities. There are NO hookups, showers, or laundry facilities in the monument. A post office and full services are found within one mile of the campground and in nearby towns.

Safety and Regulations • Obey all posted signs. • Do not feed or disturb prairie dogs. They bite and may carry diseases. Abandoned prairie dog holes may be homes to black widow spiders and rattlesnakes. • Avoid rattlesnakes; they seldom bite humans unless the snake is disturbed or mistreated. • Pets must be on a leash at all times. • All natural and cultural resources are protected by law. Disturbing animals and gathering items such as flowers and rocks are prohibited.

Climbing the Tower Climbers must register with a ranger before starting their climb and on their return. Be prepared for sudden storms; always carry rain gear and a flashlight. Rockfall is common; wear a climbing helmet. Ask a ranger for safety and climbing information. There is a voluntary climbing closure in June out of respect for American Indian beliefs.

Source: NPS Brochure (2005)


Establishment

Devils Tower National Monument — September 24, 1906


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Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards expand section

Documents

A Report on the Geology of Devils Tower National Monument (William L. Effinger, 1934)

Annual Report: 1995

Bear's Lodge or Devils Tower: Intercultural Relations, Legal Pluralism, and the Management of Sacred Sites on Public Lands (Lloyd Burton and David Ruppert, extract from Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 8 Issue 2, Winter 1999)

Bioassessment of aquatic invertebrates along the Belle Fourche River at Devils Tower National Monument NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NGPN/NRTR-2014/838 (Lusha Tronstad, January 2014)

Climate Change Scenario Planning for Resource Stewardship: Applying a Novel Approach in Devils Tower National Monument NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NRSS/CCRP/NRR-2019/2052 (Gregor W. Schuurman, Amy Symstad, Brian W. Miller, Amber N. Runyon and Rene Ohms, December 2019)

Climbing Management Plan Update, Devils Tower National Monument (April 2006)

Commemorating Antiquities Act of 1906 (T. Sutton Jett, August 25, 1982)

Cultural Encounters of the Controversial Kind (Heath A. Fire, extract from High Plains Anthropologist, Vol. 19 No. 1, Spring 1999)

Cultural Resource Stewardship Assessment, Devils Tower National Monument (May 2019)

Devils Towers National Monument - A History (Ray H. Mattison, December 1, 1955)

Devils Tower National Monument: A History (Ray H. Mattison, extract from Annals of Wyoming, April 1956)

Devils Tower National Monument: A History of National Park Service Developments Through 1966 (D. John Daugherty, Spring 1984)

Devils Tower National Monument — Flood Plain Cross Sections of Belle Fourche River (Greg L. Kerr, Victor R. Hasfurther and Thomas A. Wesche, November 1984)

Devils Tower Phonolite (Devin Foster, 2018)

Devils Tower Plant Inventory and Assessment (Hollis Marriott and Cheryl Mayer, December 12, 2016)

Devils Tower, Rainbow Bridge, and the Uphill Battle Facing Native American Religion on Public Lands (Charlton H. Bonham, extract from Minnesota Journal of Law & Inequality, Vol. 20 Issue 2, December 2002)

Devils Tower (Wyoming, USA): A lava coulée emplaced into a maar-diatreme volcano? (P. Závada, P. Dedeček, J. Lexa and G.R. Keller, extract from Geosphere, Vol. 11 No. 2, 2015, ©Geological Society of America)

Draft Climbing Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming (July 1994)

Environmental Assessment, General Management Plan, Development Concept Plan: Devils Tower National Monument, Draft (November 1985)

Ensuring the Full Freedom of Religion on Public Lands: Devils Tower and the Protection of Indian Sacred Sites (George Linge, extract from Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, Vol. 27 Issue 2, 2000)

Ethnographic Overview and Assessment of Devils Tower National Monument Intermountain Region Cultural Resource Selections No. 9 (Jeffry R. Hanson and Sally Chirinos, 1997)

Final Climbing Plan/Finding of No Significant Impact, Devils Tower National Monument (1995)

Final General Management Plan and Development Concept Plan: Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming (February 1986)

Final General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, Devils Tower National Monument, (November 2001)

Flood Plain Cross Sections of the Belle Fourche River, Devils Tower National Monument WWRC-84-13 (Greg L. Kerr, Victor R. Hasfurther and Thomas A. Wesche, Wyoming Water Research Center, November 1984)

Forest Condition at Devils Tower National Monument: 2013 Status Report NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NGPN/NRTR—2014/856 (Isabel W. Ashton, Michael Prowatzke, Stephen K. Wilson, Daniel Swanson and Phil Graeve, March 2014)

Foundation Document, Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming (September 2014)

Foundation Document Overview, Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming (October 2014)

General Management Plan, Devils Tower National Monument, (September 2002)

Geologic Atlas of the United States: Devils Tower Folio, Wyoming USGS Folio 150 (N.H. Darton and C.C. O'Harra, 1907)

Geologic Map of Devils Tower National Monument (September 2008)

Geologic Resource Evaluation Report, Devils Tower National Monument NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NRPC/GRD/NRR-2008/046 (J. Graham, September 2008)

Geology and petrology of the Devils Tower, Missouri Buttes, and Barlow Canyon area, Crook County, Wyoming (©Don L. Halvorson, PhD Thesis University of North Dakota, May 1980)

Geology of Devils Tower National Monument (HTML edition) USGS Bulletin 1021-I (Chris S. Robinson, 1956)

Geology of Devils Tower National Monument (Chris S. Robinson, 1956, reprint c1984)

History of Devils Tower (Ray H. Mattison, extract from Annals of Wyoming, April 1956, revised March 1973, minor corrections August 1984)

Interpretive Prospectus, Devils Tower National Monument (October 1979)

Junior Ranger Activity Guide, Devils Tower National Monument (2017)

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Forms

North Entrance Road (Kathy McKoy, January 31, 1996, revised April 15, 2000)

North Entrance Station (Kathy McKoy, January 11, 1996, revised April 15, 2000)

Old Headquarters Area Historic District (Kathy McKoy, December 1, 1995, revised April 20, 2000)

Tower Ladder (Kathy McKoy, December 1, 1995, revised April 15, 2000)

Natural Resource Condition Assessment, Devils Tower National Monument NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/DETO/NRTR-479 (Barry Drazkowski, Michael R. Komp, Kevin J. Stark, Shannon Amberg, Andy J. Nadeau and Eric Iverson, December 2011)

Paleontological Resources Inventory (Non-Sensitive Version), Devils Tower National Monument NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/DETO/NRR-2019/1969 (Justin S. Tweet and Vincent L. Santucci, August 2019)

Park Newspaper (The Tower Columns): 200620072008200920112013201620172018201920202022

Plant Community Composition and Structure Monitoring Protocol for the Northern Great Plains I&M Network Version 1.01 NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NGPN/NRR-2012/489 (Amy J. Symstad, Robert A. Gitzen, Cody L. Wienk, Michael R. Bynum, Daniel J. Swanson, Andy D. Thorstenson and Kara J. Paintner-Green, February 2012)

Plant Community Composition and Structure Monitoring Annual Reports

Devils Tower National Monument Plant Community Composition and Structure Monitoring: 2011 Annual Report NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NGPN/NRTR—2012/532 (Isabel W. Ashton, Michael Prowatzke, Michael R. Bynum, Tim Shepherd, Stephen K. Wilson and Kara Paintner-Green, January 2012)

Plant Community Composition and Structure Monitoring for Devils Tower National Monument: 2012 Annual Report NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NGPN/NRTR-2013/685 (Isabel W. Ashton, Michael Prowatzke, Dan Swanson, Phil Graeve and Stephen K. Wilson, February 2013)

Plant Community Composition and Structure Monitoring for Devils Tower National Monument: 2013 Annual Report NPS Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2014/612 (Isabel W. Ashton and Michael Prowatzke, January 2014)

Plant Community Composition and Structure Monitoring for Devils Tower National Monument: 2014 Annual Report NPS Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2015/772 (Michael Prowatzke and Stephen K. Wilson, March 2015)

Plant Community Composition and Structure Monitoring for Devils Tower National Monument: 2011-2015 Summary Report NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NGPN/NRR—2016/1207 (Isabel Ashton and Christopher Davis, May 2016)

Plant Community Composition and Structure Monitoring for Devils Tower National Monument: 2016 Data Report NPS Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2017/1086 (Stephanie L. Rockwood and Daniel J. Swanson, February 2017)

Plant Community Composition and Structure Monitoring for Devils Tower National Monument: 2017 Data Report NPS Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2018/1148 (Ryan M. Manuel, February 2018)

Plant Community and Forest Composition and Structure Monitoring at Devils Tower National Monument: 2018 Data Report NPS Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2019/1215 (Isabel W. Ashton, Christopher J. Davis and Daniel J. Swanson, March 2019)

Plant Community Composition and Structure Monitoring at Devils Tower National Monument: 2019 Data Report NPS Natural Resource Data Series NPS/DETO/NRDS—2019/1249 (Ryan M. Manuel and Daniel J. Swanson, December 2019)

Report on Sullys Hill Park, Casa Grande Ruin; the Muir Woods, Petrified Forest, and Other National Monuments, Including List of Bird Reserves: 1915 (HTML edition) (Secretary of the Interior, 1914)

Report on Wind Cave National Park, Sullys Hill Park, Casa Grande Ruin, Muir Woods, Petrified Forest, and Other National Monuments, Including List of Bird Reserves: 1913 (HTML edition) (Secretary of the Interior, 1914)

Resource Stewardship Strategy Summary, Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming (September 2020)

Six Centuries of Fire History at Devils Tower National Monument with Comments on Regionwide Temperature Influence (Michael C. Stambaugh, Richard P. Guyette, Erin R. McMurray and Joseph M. Marschall, extract from Great Plains Research, Vol. 18, Fall 2008, ©Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Stability of Leaning Column at Devils Tower National Monument USGS Open-File Report 2006-1130 (Edwin L. Harp and Charles R. Lindsay, 2006)

Standing Witness, Devils Tower National Monument: A History (Jeanne Rogers, 2008)

State of the Park Report, Devils Postpile National Monument, California State of the Park Series No. 26 (2016)

Statement for Management — Devils Tower National Monument: July 1986June 1989August 1991January 1995

Survey for Special Plant Species of Concern in Devils Tower National Monument (Bonnie Heidel, December 2008)

Survey of Land Snails at Devils Tower National Monument (Lusha Tronstad, December 2011)

Teton Dakota: Ethnology and History (John C. Ewers, 1938)

The Power of the Tower: Contesting History at Bear Lodge/Devils Tower National Monument (Anna Marie Krame, extract from Claremont Colleges Library Undergraduate Research Award, April 28, 2016)

Topographic Map: Devils Tower National Monument, WY Scale: 1:4,800 (USGS, 1970)

Visitor Center Location and Feasibility Study For Devils Tower National Monument (January 1993)

White-Nose Syndrome Surveillance Across Northern Great Plains National Park Units: 2018 Interim Report (Ian Abernethy, August 2018)

Winter Bat Activity in a Landscape without Traditional Hibernacula NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/DETO/NRR—2018/1654 (Amy M. Hammesfahr and Rene E. Ohms, May 2018)



Handbooks ◆ Books expand section

Videos

A Closer Look Duration: 10:20 (©Oglala Lakota College, 2012)

Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming with Road Trip Story Duration: 5:18 (James Romeo and Joseph Caylor, 2013)

Geology of Devils Tower Duration: 5:06 (©AClabough, National Park Service, 2016)



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Last Updated: 31-Jan-2022