15 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Devils Tower


Devils Tower, located in northeastern Wyoming, is a unique geological formation that has captured the imagination of people for centuries. Rising 867 feet above the Belle Fourche River, this iconic monolith is a popular destination for climbers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. While many are familiar with its striking appearance, several lesser-known facts about Devils Tower make it even more fascinating. Here are 15 things you probably don’t know about Devils Tower.



Devils Tower is a laccolithic butte, an igneous intrusion where magma is forced between sedimentary rock layers, creating a dome-like feature. Over time, the softer sedimentary rock eroded away, exposing the more resistant igneous rock that forms the tower.

Sacred Site


For Native American tribes, Devils Tower holds profound spiritual and cultural significance. The Lakota, for example, have a legend that tells of seven girls chased onto a rock by bears. The rock grew taller, lifting them out of reach of the bears’ claws, and the Great Spirit answered their prayers.

First National Monument


Devils Tower was the first national monument in the United States, designated as such by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. It served as a model for the Antiquities Act, which allows the president to declare national monuments to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features.

Climbing History

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The first documented climb of Devils Tower was in 1893 by William Rogers and Willard Ripley. Its vertical columns and challenging routes have made it a mecca for rock climbers today. Devils Tower’s history is rich, with many legendary climbers testing their skills on its walls.

Name Origin

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The name “Devils Tower” is a translation of the Native American name “Bear Lodge,” which refers to the bear-related legends associated with the site. The “Devils” part of the name was a misinterpretation of the word by an early explorer and has sparked some controversy, as some Native American groups consider it disrespectful.

Geological Age

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The monument is estimated to be around 50 million years old, making it a relatively young geological feature in Earth’s history. Its formation is a testament to the forces of nature that have shaped the Earth over millions of years. It reminds us of our planet’s dynamic and ever-changing nature.

Hexagonal Columns


The columns of Devils Tower are a marvel of nature’s geometry. Their hexagonal shape results from how the molten rock cooled and contracted as it solidified, creating these unique and striking patterns.



Devils Tower is a haven for wildlife. The area around the tower is home to a diverse range of species, including mammals like deer and pronghorn, as well as numerous bird species. It is also a popular spot for birdwatching, particularly during the spring and fall migrations.

Night Sky


As an International Dark Sky Park, Devils Tower allows visitors to see the night sky in all its glory. Because there is no light pollution, it is an excellent location for stargazing, offering unparalleled views of the stars and planets.

Close Encounters

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The association of Devils Tower with extraterrestrial visitors in Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” has added to its mystique. While the movie is fictional, it has helped to popularize the monument and draw more visitors to the area.

Rock Art

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Around the base of Devils Tower are several examples of rock art created by Native Americans. These petroglyphs and pictographs are thought to be hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. The cultural history of the area can be seen through these monuments.

Cultural Significance


For many Native American tribes, Devils Tower is a place of spiritual significance for many Native American tribes, who continue to hold ceremonies and rituals there. It continues to be used for vision quests and other cultural practices, keeping the traditions of the past alive.

Erosion Rates

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While Devils Tower may seem timeless, it is slowly being worn away by the forces of erosion. The erosion rate is prolonged, estimated to be about one inch every 10,000 years, so it will continue to change for millions of years, even though people cannot see it.

Preservation Efforts

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The National Park Service plays a key role in preserving Devils Tower for future generations. They manage visitor access, protect the area’s natural and cultural resources, and ensure the monument remains beautiful and excellent for all to enjoy.

Visitor Experience

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Devils Tower offers a range of activities for visitors, including hiking trails, ranger-led programs, and a visitor center with exhibits on the area’s geology and cultural history. It is a place of natural beauty and cultural significance that delivers a unique and unforgettable experience for all who visit.


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