National Monument: Devils Tower in Wyoming

from Off the Beaten Path | 318
Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming© 2009 Fred PflughoftThis eons-old tower of solidified molten rock was the first natural wonder to be designated a National Monument.

Off Rte. 24 in Devils Tower, Wyoming

About 60 million years ago, molten magma from the Earth’s core forced its way upward into the softer sedimentary rock here. The magma cooled underground and formed a huge stock of hard igneous stone. Slowly the sedimentary rock eroded away by the Belle Fourche River, exposing the stock. Known as Devils Tower, it rises abruptly from its base and looms 1,267 feet above the river. The tower formed into a network of 4-, 5-, and 6-sided columns, each 8 to 15 feet in diameter, separated by the thermal gradient cracks, as the entire mass began to cool. In 1906 the imposing formation was designated the nation’s first national monument. Each year expert climbers edge their way to the top, a domed area of 11/2 acres. The surrounding park offers hiking trails and campsites. Birding is quite good, since the park is located at the juncture of wooded mountains and plains. More than 100 bird species have been sighted here, including bald and golden eagles and prairie falcons. White-tailed and mule deer inhabit the woodlands, and inquisitive prairie dogs pop up from their town near the park entrance to pose for photographers.

Park open year-round; campground open mid-Apr. – Oct. Admission charged.

www.nps.gov/deto

(307) 467-5283