Nature is filled with all sorts of wonders. If you’re nearby the northeastern Wyoming area, you can stop by and see one of them: The Devils Tower; America’s first National Monument established on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt, two years before the Grand Canyon.
It’s a popular destination, with over 400 thousand visitors annually, for several reasons. Primarily because of its strange appearance. But also for its rich history, Native American influence and the plain thrill of climbing and hiking it. In this post, learn more about it.
Devils Tower got its English name in 1875 when Colonel Richard Irving Dodge led a scientific expedition through the Black Hills region. He and geologist Walter P. Jenney were sent to confirm claims of gold. But when they arrived, they were utterly stunned by its beauty. Dodge said it was one of the most remarkable peaks in the entire country.
Dodge recorded the buttes name as “Devils Tower,” noting that the Natives called it The Bad God’s Tower. But it is since believed there was a mistranslation. Many names and early depictions for the formation reference a bear. In the Lakota language, the word for bad god is wakansica, and the word for a black bear is wahanksica.
Recently, Native tribes have petitioned to officially change the name to Bear Lodge, as they find the current name offensive. However, some locals worry that changing the name would cause confusion and harm regional tourism.
Native American Folklore
The tower is sacred to many Indian tribes, including those in the Northern Plains tribes as well as the Kiowa Tribe. They have oral storytelling and history that dates back throughout thousands of years. All of their stories are similar. They tell a tale of two young girls who were playing outside and spotted multiple bears who then chased after them. In an attempt to get out of their reach, they climbed to the top of Devils Tower and prayed to the Great Spirit to save them. In turn, the Spirit raised the rocks all the way to the sky, causing the cliff to become steeper and the bears to slide backward. Their claws created marks on the sides of the towers as they fought to hang on. The formation continued to raise until the girls were turned into stars. They can be seen today inside of the constellation Pleiades.
Things to Do
Because of the low light pollution and clear skies, this area is the ideal spot for star gazing. Find out about the parks astronomy programs offered during the summertime.
There are five hiking trails located at Devil’s Tower: Tower, Red Beds, Joyner Ridge, South Side, and Valley View. All of which provide different- but equally fantastic views- of the surrounding area. Tower Trail is the most popular route. It takes visitors on a 1.3-mile-long path around the base of the tower.
If you’re a thrill seeker, Devils Tower offers multiple climbing routes along its parallel cracks. If you wish to sign up, you will need to register before your visit. They will give you the rundown of rules, regulations and their expectations. They typically see about 5,000 climbers each year. It is offered all year long, except for June, during summer solstice when the local Indian tribes use the tower for sacred ceremonies.
Ready to Explore?
Are you ready to see it for yourself? Start planning your trip and find affordable hotel rates in the area with the help of our sister site, HotelCoupons.com.