We seem to give the Devil credit for a lot of things. Calamities, demonic possessions, wars, famines, diseases, adultery, and the Kardashians comprise just a handful of the horrible occurrences mankind pins on Lucifer. The aptly named Devil’s Tower in northeastern Wyoming, however, is a Monument any deity, fallen angel, or cosmic being would be happy to claim as their own.
You get your first glimpse of the Tower about 25 minutes before reaching the NPS site. Even among the elevated landscape heading west out of the Black Hills, the monolith looms over the countryside like a striped specter. There is no mistaking this landmark, nor discounting its magnificence. If the Devil is indeed affiliated with such a marvel, he may just lure a few converts through the sheer impressive display of his power.
The National Park Service Annual Pass (an absolute steal at $80) gets you into Devil’s Tower National Monument, but whatever the individual cost may be to enter is well worth the price. The visitor’s center and gift shop provides some interesting information about the geological and cultural history of the Tower, and sells copies of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ at a markup as high as the Tower itself. A 1.3-mile paved loop circumnavigates the obelisk and is very easily walked, even by the elderly (a number of which could be found along the path). From this loop, spectacular views of every angle of Devil’s Tower are visible and, looking down over a treelined valley.
As I discussed the enormity and grandeur of the Tower with my fellow onlookers (two or three baby boomer couples), one man remarked that he could see figures climbing the face of the mountain. My camera’s optical zoom, at an impressive 34x, was able to capture these daring and likely clinically insane thrillseekers on their early morning adventure. I was visiting the Monument around 10 a.m. and many of the climbers were already halfway up the Tower, meaning they would have had to have started at the earliest crack of dawn. Apparently, the Devil can make men (and at least one woman, from what I could discern) do crazy things in an effort to feed their adrenaline habit.
Only visiting Devil’s Tower National Monument for about two hours, I saw what I deemed to be the minimum necessary to fully appreciate the enormity of this demonic spire. The full breadth of the Tower can be gleaned from the short loop trail in roughly an hour, but take the extra time to sit on one of the many benches around the Monument and watch as the sunlight peeks across its pillars and experiment with your camera settings to capture the perfect angle of Beelzebub’s colossal turret. Wyoming may be best known for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks on its western borders, but give the Devil his due – Devil’s Tower National Monument is a can’t-miss sight along its eastern edge that you assuredly won’t regret visiting.