With all of this talk about aliens, time for me to talk about one of my favorite places on the planet- Devils Tower. It was most famously used in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind back in 1977. I have gotten to visit twice and loved each visit.
In the corner of northeast Wyoming, north of I-90, is a really cool geological feature, Devils Tower. I first learned of it back in 1977 while watching Close Encounters of the Third. As a kid it was fascinating this was a real place, I really wondered if aliens landed here. Of course it was just a movie, aliens didn’t land there (or did they) but Devils Tower was real and I always wanted to visit. My first trip there was in 2011. We made a quick side trip to see it. I know it’s a revered site for many of the indigenous tribes around the site and I could feel a sense of calm while I was there. We have talked about how much we loved visiting the first time so finally last year we took a second trip and it was just as much fun as the first.
To get there, get off I-90 on to US 14 at either Sundance or Moorcroft and head north. You will see the tower peeking over hills at different times. When you get to Wyoming State Highway 24, keep heading north and there will be places to stop for great views of the tower. After a few more miles you reach Wyoming State Highway 110, turn west. You know you’re in the right place, the tower rises above the valley like a silent monument to nature. There is a campground as well as Devils Tower Trading Post. The trading post is fun, they have t-shirts, ornaments, stickers, and anything else you could think of related to Devils Tower.
Continuing on, you will stop at the entrance station to get into the park. Then drive past a huge prairie dog town, then into a pine forest. Finally the tower emerges from the trees near the parking lot. After a brief stop in the visitors center, head to the Tower trail. Now I’m not going to lie, this trail is easy but you better be in shape. It’s only a 1.3 mile paved trail but there are lots of ups and downs. There are a few other trails to explore if you have but this is the main trail around the tower. You can get close to it plus see the views around the tower. There are so many things to see on this hike, small animals, native flowers, plus plenty of birds.
The history behind this beautiful place is fascinating. The Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Crow, and Lakota all have tales that include the tower and bears. If you visit the National Park Service website you can read them, interesting how they are almost the same but yet different in their own ways. Even though it was mostly referred to as Bear Lodge by the natives in the area, the name Devils Tower was given to it in by some of the first white explorers around 1876. In 1892, the area was first set aside as a forest reserve by Wyoming Senator Francis Warren. He fought to get it recognized as a national park but no action was taken at the time. In 1906 the Antiquities Act was passed and Wyoming Representative Frank Mondell convinced President Theodore Roosevelt to name it as the first national monument in the United States.
I’m already to visit Devils Tower again. So beautiful and peaceful.
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