Close encounters with Devils Tower Monument

Why the devil is there no apostrophe, you ask. This is an issue with many National Parks, Monuments, Mountains and Islands. The U.S. Board on Geographical Names, established in 1890 by President Harrison, decided that the need to imply possession no longer exists. To this day there have only been five exceptions. Devils Tower is not one of these. (Martha’s Vineyard, Ike’s Point, John E’s Pond, Carlos Elmer’s Joshua View and Clark’s Mountain are the five).

Our first view of this amazing stone came about as we turned a corner close to 20 miles from the entrance. Devils Tower is in the northeast corner of Wyoming near the Montana and South Dakota borders in the Bear Lodge Mountains which are part of the Black Hills. Devils Tower has legend and Native American lore and history attached to it’s geological wonder. It is composed of igneous rock (formed through cooling magma). This giant stone sticking out of the earth is actually made up of symmetrical columns which are the tallest and widest in the world. (Some are more than 600 feet tall and 10-20 feet wide). Some of the broken pieces are gigantic and it is easy to see the six or seven sides of the stones and imagine where they fell from.We saw a few climbers both on the face of the tower and also just finishing up their six-plus hour climbs.There are several trails around the monument. We opted, due to the 100+ degree temperatures, to walk the shortest 1.3 mile loop around the base. When we returned to the visitor center there was a Teddy Roosevelt re-enactor who posed for pictures and explained how and why he made Devils Tower the first National Monument. Wyoming has the distinction of having the first National Park and the first National Monument in the nation. Congress was not interested in making the area a park, however, because of scientific and historic interest, the area was preserved as a Monument and no settlements were allowed within a certain boundary area. We enjoyed our visit, we saw Native American prayer bundles on trees, wildlife, and we had no encounters with extra terrestrial beings (only actors).

We’re having mashed potatoes tonight.

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