WTF is that? Exploring the Devils Tower, Wyoming

I can imagine the first white explorers gasping in disbelief when they saw it.

A flat topped monolith rising straight up from the rolling prairie of Wyoming; towering over the rest of the land like a sentinel.

You can’t take your eyes away; even when trees obscure the view you still feel its presence.

The Devils Tower National Monument is a deeply impressive place to visit and I still think about its mysterious shape.

Carmen and I visited this eerie place a few weeks back and thoroughly enjoyed walking around this big rock and staring at it. That’s all we did; stare at a rock. The weirdest, most impressive rock formation I have ever seen.

Devils Tower from afar Double-Barrelled Travel

Devils Tower makes an imposing figure on the skyline

How Devils Tower was formed

There are plenty of theories about how this tower of rock was formed but geologists mostly agree that it’s made from solidified lava that rose up from the earth’s crust millions of years ago… although they don’t know how that took place exactly. Did the earth around it erode away? Or is the tower the remains of a volcano?

I like the explanation the Native Americans have.

Many tribes hold Devils Tower as a sacred place and pass down stories about its creation. The outside of the tower is corrugated with columns of rock and most of the tribes that revere the site say the features were scratched out by a giant bear with massive claws raking the side of the monolith.

Carmen in a teepee at Devils Tower Double-Barrelled Travel

Carmen inside an American Indian teepee at the base of Devils Tower

Our experience of Devils Tower

However it came to be, Devils Tower is a place that’s hard to forget.

We arrived late in the afternoon and set up camp at a site right below its massive form and watched the sunset glow behind the tower’s silhouette; an amazing sight that was scary as well as beautiful.

We were woken very early the next day by the excited chatter of a group of college students who were using their summer break to go rock climbing.

They were aiming to ascend to the top of Devils Tower and were in high spirits as they watched the morning light illuminate their challenge.

I needed a few coffees before I could share their excitement though!

at Devils Tower Double-Barrelled Travel

One of the many beautiful views we had of Devils Tower during our hike

Devil’s Tower was declared America’s first National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and is carefully managed by the US National Parks Service.

They have created two paths around the tower – one well-trodden route that takes you in a tight loop around its circumference and another that rambles in a wide loop through the forest surrounding the monolith.

Guess which path we chose.

Hiking trail at Devils Tower Double-Barrelled Travel

The longer hiking trail around Devils Tower was practically deserted

Hiking around Devils Tower

It took us around two hours of easy paced hiking to get around the bigger trail and we only saw three other people the entire time.

The inner path is absolutely packed with visitors so taking the road less travelled made all the difference to our enjoyment of the day.

We saw lots of wildlife including a family of deer grazing in the long grass.

The same grass revealed a big snake that slithered across the path and made us jump, but we later identified it as a very harmless breed and felt a bit silly.

You don’t have to do much at Devils Tower other than marvel at how weird and wonderful nature can be.

You just can’t look away from it. Even when we drove away on the winding highway I kept looking in the rear view mirror at the massive monolith until the rolling earth covered it up again.

Carmen and Dave at Devils Tower Double-Barrelled Travel

Posing in front of Devils Tower

As always, we welcome your comments.

Have you been to a place that took your breath away like Devils Tower did ours? Where was it?

What you need to know:

How to get there It’s complicated, so here’s some directions from the NPS website:

Devils Tower National Monument is located, 33 miles northeast of Moorcroft, WY, 27 miles northwest of Sundance. via U.S. 14, 9 Miles south of Hulett via WY24, and 52 miles southwest of Belle Fourche, S.D. via S.D. Highway34/WY24.

How much Entry costs $10 for a vehicle, $5 for a motorcycle and $5 for an individual on foot, all valid for up to 7 days.

When to go Summer or spring is best but the monument is open all year round.

The Circle of Sacred Smoke at Devils Tower Double-Barrelled Travel

Devils Tower framed in The Circle of Sacred Smoke – one of only three of its kind sculptures in the world placed at sacred sites

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About the author

Dave is the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel and has been nomadic since May 2013. When he's not busily working on a novel, he can be found exploring a war museum, sailing a yacht (unfortunately not his own), or hiking up a mountain.

2 comments on “WTF is that? Exploring the Devils Tower, Wyoming”

  1. Pingback: Looking back on 2013 - Double-Barrelled Travel

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