Devils Tower is an igneous rock intrusion located in Wyoming, USA. During the Triassic period, between 225 and 195 years ago, magma from an underground volcano cooled within the earth’s crust, forming the rock formation. The softer rock around the formation eventually eroded away, leaving behind the 1,267-foot-tall natural rock monument. This is thought to have happened between 56 and 66 million years ago. President Theodore Roosevelt designated Devils Tower as the first United States National Monument in 1906. Devils Tower is in the Bear Lodge Mountains, which are also part of the Black Hills. The name Devils Tower was not chosen at random. A misinterpretation by Colonel Richard Irving Dodge’s interpreter during an expedition in 1875 resulted in the names Bad God’s Tower and, later, Devils Tower.
The indigenous tribes who lived in North America long before Europeans arrived gave Devils Tower a variety of names.
The Kiowa referred to it as Aloft on a Rock and Tree Rock; the Cheyenne and Crow referred to it as Bear’s House or Bear’s Lair; the Crow referred to it as Home of Bears; the Cheyenne and Lakota referred to it as Bear’s Lodge; the Lakota referred to it as Bear’s Lodge Butte and Grizzly Bear Lodge; and the Cheyenne and Arapaho referred to it as Bear’s Tipi.
The apostrophe is removed in a geographic naming standard, so it is called Devils Tower rather than Devil’s Tower.
Efforts to rename Devils Tower to correct the original misunderstanding began in 2005. The American Indian tribes who advocated for the change wanted it to be renamed Bear Lodge National Historical Landmark. Another failed attempt in 2014 was also a failure.
For those who want to climb Devils Tower, there are established climbing routes. Some routes are more straightforward than others. Climbing is prohibited in June to respect the wishes of the local tribes.
William Rogers and Willard Ripley were the first people known to have ascended the monument.
On top of Devils Tower, there are small rodents, chipmunks, and vegetation.
Some theories contend that Devils Tower was once an explosive volcano and that all that remains is Devils Tower, or that it is a volcanic plug or even the neck of an extinct volcano. Most people believe it is an igneous intrusion.
The rock that makes up Devils Tower is eroding. Pieces of the monument’s rock, and sometimes entire columns, fall away, and the remains can be seen along its base.
According to Lakota and Kiowa folklore, Devils Tower was formed one day while a couple of little girls were out playing. When grizzly bears approached, they climbed to the top of a rock and prayed to the Great Spirit to save them. The rock then rose from the ground to such a height that the bears were unable to approach the little girls. As the bears clawed at the rock, they left the marks that can still be seen today on the sides of Devils Tower. When the girls reached the sky, they became the constellation Pleiades. Other tribes have different explanations for how Devils Tower came to be.