American Northwest Trip, 2017: Devils Tower

A lifelong dream sparked by Close Encounters of the Third Kind was finally realized when I visited Devils Tower last August–40 years (and many plates of sculpted mashed potatoes) after I first saw the tower on film. Alas, I didn’t find any facilities for hosting spaceships during my hike around its base, but had I made my visit two days later, I could have enjoyed a 40th anniversary screening of Close Encounters at the base of the tower itself. That would have been an amazing experience.

Devils Tower is a sacred site to Native Americans. You can find prayer offerings tied to the trees around the base of the tower (I included a photo of one of these below). Native American names for the monument include “Bear’s House” or “Bear’s Lodge” and it is likely that the name “Devils Tower” came from a mistranslation of the Lakota word for “bear.”

A couple of the closeup shots below feature climbers scaling the tower. Pretty soon, climbing will no longer be necessary because, according to a sign I saw at the site, they are apparently installing an elevator to the top. Although it would be neat to see the top of the tower, I think it’s unfortunate that they are going to ruin its appearance with an elevator apparatus. I’m glad that I was able to see Devils Tower in all its natural glory before this happens.

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