According to the National Parks Service web site the name Devils Tower came about because "some Indians called it Mato Tipila, meaning Bear Lodge. Other American Indian names include Bear’s Tipi, Home of the Bear, Tree Rock and Great Gray Horn. In 1875, on an expedition led by Col. Dodge, it is believed his interpreter misinterpreted the name to mean Bad God's Tower, later shortened to Devils Tower."
The Devils Tower is a monolithic igneous intrusion, or in other words, volcanic magma which had welled up into the surrounding sedimentary rock, and then became exposed from erosion, although some geologists debate that definition.
On July 4, 1893, local rancher William Rogers became the first person to climb the tower after constructing a ladder of wooden pegs driven into cracks in the rock face. Today, the Devils Tower welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and about 1% of them try to climb to the top of the tower.
The summit of the tower is about 200 ft. by 400 ft, or about the size of a football field, and the circumference of the base of the tower is 1 mile. A bit of trivia about the Devils Tower is that it was used as a location in the movie "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" for the aliens to land their spaceship.
It is still used as a place of worship for these tribes. Most of the ceremonies take place in June and are conducted by small groups or individuals who have gathered for prayer, pipe ceremonies, and the tying of prayer cloths and bundles on the surrounding trees. Climbers are asked to voluntarily observe the temporary closure of the tower to climbing during the month of June for this reason.
The Devils Tower was an outstanding sight to see during our drive west ward across Wyoming on our way to visit Yellowstone National Park. I hope you'll join me in my next blog post where I'll show many of the amazing sights we saw there!
I'm linking this post to Mary of the A Little Red House blog Mosaic Monday event. Thanks, Mary, for hosting such an interesting event every Monday. To see more blogs participating today please visit Mary's beautiful blog and enjoy the links to many wonderful photo mosaics!