Devils Tower National Monument

Since we had to put our last kitty, Scruffy, down after being quite sick, our other younger cat, Sophie, has been on her own.  She’s a very well-behaved cat who is very, very spoiled!  So, we’ve started to let her roam around in the truck, within reason, when we’re traveling.  She has gotten to the point where she expects it now!!  IMG_7799She loves watching out the window. 

We left the Tetons about a week ago, and we’ve been traveling with our good friends, Mike & Jackie, and Dave & Jeanene and we’ve been having a great time!!  We began our trip by stopping over at Devils Tower National Monument

You can see the huge stump-like formation, which rises around 1200 feet above the Belle Fourche River (pretty fork river), well before you arrive.  It inspired the imagination of the Indians.  They called it Mateo Tepee, which meant Grizzly Bear Lodge.  Near the visitor’s center they had this cool picture!IMG_7878

Nearby just outside of the park, you can see some red sandstone and siltstone cliffs above the river.  Very beautiful!!  IMG_7817

Shortly after you enter into the park, you drive past Prairie Dog town.  Yes, I said Prairie Dog town!  IMG_7827


These little guys were EVERYWHERE!  And oh so cute!!  IMG_7840

They are one of the most social wild animals of North America.  We watched and listened to them for quite some time!!IMG_7846

They are actually a member of the squirrel family and bear no similarity to dogs except for their call which is termed a bark like that of a dog.  These are Black-tailed Prairie Dogs (Cynomys Ludovicianus), and are one of five prairie dog species.  IMG_7847
Back to Devils Tower.  It was America’s very first National Monument!  I never knew that and being an ex-Park Ranger, I found this to be very interesting!!  The Antiquities Act is what made this possible which allowed the President to set aside “historical landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are upon lands owned or controlled by the United States as National Monuments."   President Theodore Roosevelt, on September 24, 1906, proclaimed Devils Tower as a national monument.  IMG_7865We took a trail that went up towards the base of it, and as you looked up, you could see a couple of guys who were getting ready to rappel down after climbing up.  IMG_7883
Coming down, climbers use the rappel device to slide down a doubled rope passed through bolts anchored to the rock.  We didn’t have to wait too long before seeing one of them begin their walk backwards down the wall.  IMG_7914

So they have a trail that goes around the “tower” itself and so, of course, we had to walk around it!  It’s kind of amazing how different the Tower looks from the different sides.  IMG_7936

IMG_7955The first known ascent of Devils Tower by any method occurred on July 4, 1893, and by William Rogers and Willard Ripley, local ranchers in the area. They completed this first ascent after constructing a 350-foot ladder of wooden pegs driven into a continuous vertical crack in the rock face. Today, most climbers free climb it, utilizing naturally occurring ledges, cracks, and projections.  IMG_7961

The Tower is considered a premier crack climbing site.  Crack climbing is a form of free climbing. Ropes and equipment are used only as safely precautions.  Today, climbers are not allowed to place new permanent anchors, chip holds in the rock or modify the Tower in any way.IMG_7982
The Tower is sacred to several Native American Plains tribes.  Because of this, many Indian leaders objected to climbers, considering this to be a desecration.  Climbers argued that they had a right to climb it, since it is on federal land.  A compromise was eventually reached with a voluntary climbing ban during the month of June when the tribes are conducting ceremonies around the monument. 

There are brightly colored pieces of cloth hanging in some of the trees along the trail that are referred to as prayer cloths and prayer bundles.  They are physical, symbolic representations of prayers and are here by American Indian people as part of their religious ceremonies.  I found out that it is considered culturally insensitive to photograph these items so I don’t have photos to include here, but they were very interesting to see throughout the area. 
But here are some other pics you might enjoy from around the other side of Tower.  IMG_7987

Then on the way back to where we were camped close-by, we got to see a few more Prairie Dogs.  I just really love them little guys!!!  IMG_7995
And on that “barking” note, that was our trip to Devils Tower National Monument.  Our next stop will be in the Black Hills.  Check back soon and Happy Trails!!


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