Wyoming January 10, 2018
This Wyoming Spot Is One Of The Most Underrated Destinations In The Country And You Shouldn’t Miss It
There is so much to do and see on the west side of Wyoming that people often forget the incredible natural attractions elsewhere in the state. In fact, one of the most underrated destinations in the entire country can be found on the eastern side of the Cowboy State, nowhere near more popular places such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
The Devil's Tower National Monument is a well-known attraction in Wyoming, but it often gets discounted and overlooked when out-of-staters come to visit.
However, if you're road-tripping through the Dakotas on your way to Yellowstone and further points west, the Devil's Tower fits that itinerary perfectly.
The stop might take you a bit off the beaten path, but it's worth it to see one of the most unique natural monuments on the North American continent.
The area and the tower itself emanate a sense of the surreal. It's no wonder that its appeal crosses many cultures.
There is a rich history behind the tower, including a Native American legend that explains the odd markings on the sides of Devil's Tower.
A Native American story passed down for generations tells the story of a group of children playing in the forest when a bear spotted them and began to chase them. The children climbed on top of a rock and began praying to the Great Spirit to help them escape the huge predators. In answer, the Great Spirit caused a rock to rise from the ground, blocking the bear's access to the children. Not ready to quit so easily, the bear tried to climb over the rock, gouging claw marks deep into the sides of the rock. Ultimately, he gave up, but the story claims that is why the surface of the tower is scored with such unusual marks to this day.
Modern geologists say that the tower is made up of phonolite porphyry, the result of cooling magma. As lava from the Earth's mantle pushed up between rocks and cooled off, it contracted into columns, creating the scoring effect seen today.
The Devil's Tower is still a sacred site for Native Americans in the 21st Century.
The Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Crow, Lakota, Kiowa, and Shoshone Indian tribes have cultural and spiritual ties to the tower. Traditional ceremonies are performed at the site throughout the year, though many of them are not witnessed by visitors. Still, it's not unusual to see prayer bundles and other tokens left behind. Guests and sightseers are asked to leave sacred bundles and cloths undisturbed.
The National Monument is open to the public 24/7/365, and there are so many things to do, you'll want to spend at least a full day there.
There is a campground nearby, but the Devil's Tower is within driving distance of several hotels and motels, too.
You can hike and explore around the tower - and some adventurous souls even enjoy climbing up the sides of it. There is a visitor's center and guided tours, plus there are screenings at the base of the monolith of the classic movie that immortalized it: Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Visiting the Devil's Tower is sure to be an adventure you'll never forget, and one you might want to experience more than once.
What other overlooked Wyoming destinations are more than worth the trip?