Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Devil's Tower with no Close Encounters!

When traveling on Interstate 90 in Wyoming - Devil's Tower is a nice place to spend a some time and stretch your legs.  It is part of the National Park System and has an entrance fee of $10/car.  We once again used our Nation Park Pass - getting a lot of use this year! 
Picture taken on the base trail

The park has a visitor center, hiking trails, campground (empty except for the campground hosts when we drove through) and a LOT of prairie dogs!

President Teddy Roosevelt designated Devil's Tower as the nation's first national monument in 1906.  Today it is best remembered for the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" from 1978 (yikes - that long ago?!).

The tower is actually the core of a volcano exposed after millions of years of erosion.  There is a paved walking trail around the perimeter that is 1 1/4 miles.  The tower is 865 feet high and yes, you can climb it.  Experienced climbers have to register and follow set rules.
View from the monument to the wind

This is a sacred area to the local Native Americans and they come to perform ceremonies and leave prayer bundles.  Their legend  is that 7 girls were playing in the area when a large bear tried to get them.  The girls jumped up on a rock and began to pray that the rock take pity on them and save them.  The rock heard their pleas and grew upward pushing the girls higher, out of reach of the bear.  The bear continued to jump at the rock and clawed the sides.  The rock continued to push high and the girls were pushed up into the sky where they are now a group of seven little stars (the Pleiades).
The formation - bear claw marks according to legend

Prayer bundles left tied in trees around the base

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