s/y Nine of Cups
Devils Tower National Monument - Wyoming
June 2012
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In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the nation's first national monument,
preserving and protecting it from commercial development. Located in the northeast corner of Wyoming, we
could see the centuries-famous butte far in the distance as we approached. The formation of the butte is no
mystery. About 50 million years ago, molten magma was forced into sedimentary rocks above it and cooled
underground. Over millions of years, erosion of the sedimentary rock by weather and the Belle Fourche River
exposed the Tower. Standing at 5,112' feet above sea level, it rises 867' from its base and is 1,267' above
the river below.  Its teardrop-shaped top covers 1.5 acres and its diameter is 1,000'. The 1.3 mile Tower
Walk around its circumference was outstanding, providing ever-changing views of the oh-so-close monolith.
Bear Lodge is one of many Native American names for the Tower. The Kiowa legend: "Eight children were playing...seven sisters and a brother.
Suddenly, the boy was transformed into a bear. The sisters were terrified and ran with the bear chasing closely behind. They came to the stump
of a huge tree and the tree told them to climb upon it, which they did. The stump began to rise into the air, putting them just out of reach of the
bear. The bear reared up, clawing at them, scoring the bark of the tree. The seven sisters were carried into the sky and became the stars of the
Big Dipper." There are several variations of this theme. The area is still considered a sacred place for Native Americans.
There's a black-tailed prairie dog town
at the entrance to the monument which
provides entertainment for visitors
(and probably for the prairie dogs,
Prayer cloths or bundles (left) are tied to trees
around the Tower as physical symbols of
prayers used during Native American
ceremonies. Climbing the Tower is considered
sacrilegious by many and hence causes
controversy with climbers.
Beyond prairie dogs, there are white-tailed deer, mule deer, rabbit, chipmunks and
porcupines in the area. Birds abound...over 150 species have been spotted here. We
saw crested jays, bluebirds, swallows and woodpeckers. Vultures and hawks circled
high in the sky as we walked around the Tower.

We camped out nearby with a full view of the Tower. The campground showed
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" every evening. We watched it, but quite
honestly, it was pretty boring when Devils Tower was just outside our tent. We were
awakened in the morning by a three-toed American woodpecker peck, peck,
pecking on the tree nearest our tent.
Though we'll stop to see many other
places along our route, National Parks
and Monuments are still highlights of our
trip. Next in line...
Jewel Cave National
Monument in South Dakota.
On July 4, 1893, midst much fanfare, William
Rogers and Willard Ripley made the first ascent
of the Tower, using a wooden ladder they had
built in place the previous spring for the first

Records of Tower climbs have been kept since
1937. Approximately 5,000 climbers arrive
every year from all parts of the globe to climb
the massive columns.