In the Black Hills of Wyoming, a large geologic formation is shaped like a tower rising out of the flat prairie. The Tower has been called “Bear Lodge” by various Native American tribes and now bears the name Devils Tower National Monument.
The monolith towers 867 feet high and is known to natives as Bear Lodge. It’s believed that the molten lava of an ancient volcano formed the Tower and rose about 60 million years ago.
Devils Tower Facts for kids
- It stands 867 feet (265 m) from the summit to its base.
- On September 24, 1906, Devils Tower became a national monument.
- Over 400,000 annual visit Devils Tower each year
- About 1% of visitors actually climb the Tower
Lots of different names
The indigenous people who lived in North America before Europeans arrived had various names for Devils Tower.
The Kiowa tribe called it Aloft on a Rock and Tree Rock
the Cheyenne and Crow tribes called it Bear’s House
The Crow tribe named it Bear’s Lodge
the Cheyenne and Lakota tribes both named it Bear’s Lodge
The Lakota called Bear’s Lodge Butte and Grizzly Bear Lodge
the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes called it Bear’s Tip
The Geology of the Tower
Devils Tower National Monument can be reached by the Needles Highway heading north from Route 16 or by joining West Boundary Road south of the monument. During the drive to Devils Tower, there are several geologic formations worth viewing with explanations related to their formation.
So as you are driving towards Devils Tower and Rock Springs Canyon, and Lake Marvin, you will experience a variety of geologic layers that tell the story about extreme erosion over millions of years.
Devil’s Tower is 867 feet high and composed mainly of granite and quartzite that extends 15 miles westward into Wyoming. There are other minerals in Devil’s Tower, such as pegmatite, dacite, rhyolite, schist, and limestone.
Devil’s Tower is made up of two distinct formations. Devils Tower Unit is a basaltic lava flow that had cooled and solidified about 225 million years ago. The other formation is the igneous rock in the center of the monument called Devils Tower, which is also known as the Rock Spring Canyon Formation.
The History Behind the Monument
The Sioux Indians were the original inhabitants and gave it the name “Bear’s Tipi.” The name became a popular spot for Native Americans to visit and was eventually renamed Devils Tower. There are still traditions practiced by the Indians when they go to visit this site.
The Geology of Devils Tower is interesting to learn about because of the history of how it came into existence as well as what types of minerals are present in this area. There is also a variety of geologic formations worth viewing with explanations related to their formation.
The combination of volcanic rock and the erosion process that took place over millions of years has created a strikingly beautiful landscape. Devils Tower is unlike any other geological formation because it started out as a lava flow from an underground volcano.
Safety Precautions on Hiking the Tower
It is important to take safety precautions when hiking at Devils Tower. This includes packing a bear canister, hiking with someone else, carrying a cell phone, and more. Some recommend avoiding hiking alone. The hiking paths are well maintained and have not experienced any accidents to date.
The Devils Tower is said to have once been a volcano, but it was destroyed by an earthquake. Or even possibly an extinct volcano’s neck. The remaining volcano is covered by the rock over the years.
According to legend, Several Sioux girls picked flowers in the forest before they were chased by bears. As the Great Spirit lifted the girls from the ground, they were spared. They tried climbing the rocky slope, but they were unable to get to the girls. Their efforts left scratch marks on the monument.
The Devils Tower is sacred or has spiritual significance to many Native American tribes who live within the Great Plains region.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it called Devils Tower?
Devil’s Tower was named after the nearby Devil’s Guard. The name may have been taken from the shape of the rock formation, its proximity to the Devils River, or both.
How old is the Devil’s Tower?
Devil’s Tower is more than 50 million years old.
What is so special about Devil’s Tower?
Devil’s Tower sits on the northeastern side of the Black Hills in northeastern Wyoming. Standing 1,267 ft from foot to top, it is what is known as a “flatirons” rock formation, a type of sedimentary rock that has been eroded over time into an almost perfect triangular form. It was formed by volcanic ash and mudstone with some granite blocks from 50 million years ago.
Why is the Devils Tower important?
The Devils Tower is important because it is a very unique-looking rock formation, and it has spiritual significance for the Native American people. There have also been numerous scientific studies of the geology of this Tower that took place. Scientists are still not sure how old Devil’s Tower really is, but they know that it can’t be more than 50 million years old.
Does It Cost to see Devils Tower?
Entry to the park is $25 a car, $20 a motorcycle, and a $45 annual pass is also offered.
Is Devils Tower open year-round
In winter, visitor services are reduced, and travel can become challenging. The park is generally open year-round
Is Devils Tower hard to climb
It’s a popular location for rock climbers. It comprises vertical rock faces that have hundreds of parallel cracks.
The climb to the top of Devil’s Tower is difficult because you have to go up 1,200 feet. This climb includes 4 hours of climbing, which is not for everybody. It’s not like a step outside your house, and there you are at the top. But it’s worth it when you’re on top.
Rock climbers do not require a guide, but all climbers must register with the ranger station before and after attempting to climb the Tower.
There are numerous well-established, confirmed rock climbing routes in every direction of the Tower. They ascend the various vertical cracks and columns of the rock.
What is the top of Devil’s Tower like?
The top of the Tower is small, and it’s almost like you can touch the sky. There are markers up there to help you see what direction you need to go in order to get back down again. But once you’re up there, it is surreal and beautiful because it is so quiet.
You listen for nothing but your own footsteps. It doesn’t matter how many times people climb that Tower; they tell me that they always feel an eerie sense of peace when they finally reach the top.”
What rock is Devils Tower made of
Devil’s Tower is made of igneous rock, meaning it was created from the cooling and solidifying of molten rock. This cooled into a type of sedimentary rock that had many different layers.
It has been eroded over time to what is now known as “flatirons” rock formation, which is a triangular form that consists mostly of volcanic ash and mudstone with some granite blocks from 600 million years ago