The Sacred Legends of Devils Tower

Devils Tower National Monument, also known as Grizzly Bear Lodge, is the first U. S. National Monument established in 1906 in Northeast Wyoming, near the Belle Fourche River. It covers 5.4 square km (2.1 square miles) and features a natural rock tower, the remnant of a volcanic intrusion now exposed by erosion.

The tower has a flat top that covers 1.5 acres (0.6 hectares) and fluted sides. It measures 264 meters (867 feet) in height measured from its base and 386 meters (1,267 feet) measured from the river valley; its summit has an elevation of 5112 feet (1558 meters) above sea level. The tower probably formed when molten rock, pushing upwards, found a hard rock layer and was forced to spread out in a flat shape. Its color is mainly light gray and beige. Lichens cover parts of the tower, and sage, moss and grass grow on top of it.

Squirrels and birds live at the top, and a pine forest covers part of the surrounding country; there is also a sizeable prairie dog village near the base of the tower. In response to requests from spiritual leaders from 20 tribes and two interfaith groups, U. Representative Cynthia Lummis introduced a bill to prevent the name change of Devils Tower National Monument to Bear Lodge. The National Park Service says that more than 20 American Indian tribes consider the place sacred “and consider the application of the name 'Diablos' offensive”. The bill's introduction will protect the “Devils Tower” name, even if it doesn't become law. Devils Tower is renowned for its spiritual significance to many Native American tribes in the region.

According to First Stories, the White Buffalo Calf Woman presented the pipe at Devils Tower and showed people how to pray using it. At night, visitors can see the star formation of the Big Dipper or “The Big Dipper” just above the Devil's Tower in the night sky, along with many other important star clusters and constellations referenced by the area's Native American culture. The sacred narratives surrounding the formation and spiritual meaning of Devils Tower have been transmitted through centuries of Native American history and are still told today, preserved as a traditional part of American Indian culture throughout the region. While some aspects of the Devil's Tower legend are used in other variations, other tribes include different details. Although parts of the story change throughout the different tribes of the region, each includes the presence of a giant bear or a group of bears to justify the vertical cracks along the surface of Devils Tower. Devils Tower continues to be a destination that inspires wonder and admiration for the power and beauty of nature and time across cultures and generations.

From rock climbing and hiking, to capturing its diverse array of wildlife with photography, Devils Tower offers adventure and enrichment for travelers of all types.

Roxanne Cotner
Roxanne Cotner

Incurable music nerd. Amateur pop culture specialist. General internet aficionado. Unapologetic web lover. Hipster-friendly bacon fanatic.