||The tourist center, just inside of Wyoming. We stopped off here
for information on Yellowstone Park, and decided that it might be worthwhile
to see Devil's Tower, which is a short detour to the north of here.
||A view of the monument, with some of the local flora in the foreground.
This was a nice, peaceful spot to camp.
||An unobstructed view of the tower, from within the monument. There
is a public camp ground here, with the usual facilities, though a more elaborate,
and expensive, private campground sits just outside the entrance. The Park
Service offers the usual camp fire talks, and interpretive displays, along
with hikes, and educational programs.
||Devil's Tower, and surrounding environs. This is high prairie, and
a fairly arid place, though it is not desert dry. There are some cattleman,
and even some sheep farmers, in the area.
||Devil's Tower was the first national monument and was so designated
by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. The 1267 foot elevation attracts multitudes
of daring climbers, every year. I greatly admire the courage of these people,
though I do this with both feet planted safely on the flat ground.
||A ridge consisting of the sandstone which underlies most of this
area. This is the "redrock" of the west, and gets it's color from iron oxides.
Despite the geographic location in Wyoming, geologically, this is still
a part of the Black Hills, though there is little resemblance.
||A close up of some of the granite blocks which form Devil's Tower.
||There is some argument, among geologists, as to just exactly how
this structure was formed. There is agreement on one thing though. This is
a plug of igneous rock, which intruded into the bedded layers of sandstone,
which make up the majority of the rock in this area. The igneous rock, being
much tougher than the surrounding sandstones, wore away at a much more gradual
rate. It can be assumed that, in eons to come, this feature will tower oven
higher over the plain, as the wearing away of the sandstone continues.
||The squared off profile of the monolithic columns, making up Devil's
tower, is clearly shown in this photo. This is the result of a crystalline
structure, which formed as the rocks cooled. This type of structure would
indicate a rather slow period of cooling, quite in accordance with the
theory that the lava of which this rock was formed, never reached the surface,
and certainly never flowed. Most geologist believe that this was the result
of a lacolith, a lava tube which intruded into layers of older rock, but
never reached the surface to form a volcano. There are some who put forth
the idea that a volcano actually did exist here, but there is no sign of
a cinder cone, and there is no supporting evidence of ash in the rock record.
||The concluding scenes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, were
filmed here. On my first trip out west, I had considered visiting this
place, but had not the time, resources, or energy. The movie had been released,
shortly before I had left on that trip. The place looks quite ominous, and
inaccessible in this shot, as it did in that movie, so long ago.
||The classic picture postcard view of Devil's Tower.
||The entire structure has a rather squarish look to it, from this
angle. It is almost as if it were a larger scale version of the posts which
make up it's structure. The whole structure can almost be thought of, in
the light of this, as a single large, though much worn, crystal.
||The tower seems quite stark, and sterile in this shot. There is
actually life at the top though. It's elevation has the interesting effect
of providing a different climate, and supporting a somewhat different ecology,
than the lands at it's base. There is a fairly large population of snakes
at the top, though how they managed to slither up there, I could not say.
The human climbers slither up by grasping and wedging at the fissures between
the rock columns. Pitons, and other such climbing gear, is not allowed,
though wedges are permitted, adding to the challenge of ascending to the
top. Many gaps may be seen, where the cleaved columns fell from the structure.
This happens from time to time. It can be seen that the upper portions of
the tower are much more weathered than the lower portions. This is a consequence
of the upper portions being exposed to the surface earlier than the lower
||These huge rocks, and bits of crumbled, and fallen stone, are the
closest things to foothills that you will find around Devil's Tower. Some
intrepid pines take root on the beginnings of the lower slopes of the main
formation, and give somewhat of a sense of scale to the photo. The climb
up the scattered rock, to the base of the tower itself , is quite an exertion
in itself, but for many, this is only the beginning. Devil's Tower is a
rallying point, and a sort of rite of passage for many climbers. It's continuos
near vertical faces are a challenge, the call of which is irresistible.
Climbers have been flocking to this place for decades.
||Looking at the ascent, it occurs to me that there are large numbers
of very brave, or very foolish people in the world. Who would climb something
like this? There is no amount of money that would convince me to give it
a try. Perhaps if something very vicious, power full, and terrifying were
chasing me, I might be moved to start up. It would have to be a very frightening
creature indeed, to get me up the slopes of this structure.
||The columns of granite, which make this place up, are said by the
Indians to have been the result of a giant bear. The old legend says that
an Indian girl ran up the side of a mountain to escape the fearsome beast,
and he clawed his way up behind her. The spaces between Th. columns are
supposed to have been furrows put their by the sharp claws of this monster,
as he attempted to catch the girl. Though the markings go all the way to
the top, which would seem to indicate that the great bear got her, the legend
||A somewhat warmer view of the tower, in the early morning light.
The tower tapers somewhat towards the top, and widens considerably at the
base, a result of it's slow exposure to the surface.
||Morning arrives, and the Sun is coming up behind the tower.