Exploring Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming

Devils Tower National Monument is a unique and surprising geological wonder steeped in Native American legends. Located across the state line in northeastern Wyoming, this solitary stump-shaped granite formation rises 1,267 feet above the wooded Belle Fourche River Valley, like a country skyscraper. Once hidden below the Earth's surface, erosion has stripped away the softer rock layers that reveal the Tower. The Devils Tower National Monument was established in 1906 and is the first national monument in the United States.

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) high from its base and 386 meters (1,267 feet) as measured from the river valley; its summit has an elevation of 1558 meters (5,112 feet) 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 1893 two local ranchers were the first to climb Devils Tower using a wooden ladder. Natural forces continue to shape Devils Tower as wind and water continue to erode the pillar, it's rare, but sometimes entire columns break and fall to the ground around the tower. Visitors to Devils Tower National Monument can stop at the visitor center to learn about one of the ranger-led programs, see the night sky, go hiking, and even climb to the top of Devils Tower.

Aladdin is a small community in the northeast corner of Wyoming that is worth visiting, especially during your trip to Devils Tower National Monument. Pine Haven is located in northeastern Wyoming, south of Devils Tower National Monument and next to Keyhole Reservoir and State Park. The exact origin of Devils Tower is still debated by geologists. Some think that the magma that formed Devils Tower penetrated to the surface, while others think that erosion eroded the softer sedimentary rock to eventually expose the tower. Regardless of its origin, Devils Tower National Monument is an incredible natural wonder that should be experienced by all.

Roxanne Cotner
Roxanne Cotner

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