Thursday, November 3, 2016

On the Road Again (Devils Tower National Monument)

Devils Tower National Monument appears as a giant monolith protruding from the flat prairie as you approach from miles away in northeastern Wyoming.

Devils Tower
It is impressive, rising 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River and 5,112 feet above sea level.  According to the National Park Service, the Tower was "formed by an igneous intrusion, the forcible entry of igneous rock material" about 50 million years ago. It's also laccolithic butte.  I took a geology course in college, almost 50 years ago, and that's all Greek to me now.

The paved Tower Trail
Devils Tower is a fascinating place to visit. There are hiking trials (my wife and I took the easy, paved 1.3-mile Tower Trial), a steep formation for climbers, various flora and fauna, camping -- or simply sit and gaze at this glorious piece of natural beauty.  It's no wonder President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed it as America's first national monument in 1906.

Offerings on tree
The Tower means different things to people. For American Indians, it's sacred ground. They often refer to it as Bear Lodge.  You can see offerings left on trees as you trek around the base.

For climbers, it's a destination to ascend and descend the (865 feet)  in one day. We saw seven the afternoon we visited. That's something I'd never do; I even get a queasy stomach watching them.  I learned that there is a voluntary climbing closure each June since Northern Plains Native Americans congregate there for ceremonial reasons.

Longhorn and bison outside the park
And for others, this is the place that lured humans and aliens in Steven Spielberg's classic movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."  We didn't run across any aliens but were warned to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes and black widow spiders. And don't touch or feed those cute black-tailed prairie dogs since they may bite!  

See more images on my Facebook page by clicking here.

Next stop: Little Bighorn Battlefield

Until the next time....

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