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Wyoming Wanderers: Devils Tower

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Landon Gunsauls
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Rising high above the Wyoming skyline, Mato Tipila, more commonly known as Devils Tower, casts a shadow across the surrounding pine forest.

Airman 1st Class Sarah Post and I made the trip on a sunny Sunday morning, leaving base around 7 a.m. to make it there by 11 a.m. There were many opportunities to stop along the way, but  the most important stop was for pictures with a Sinclair dinosaur statue rocking an old saddle.

Finally reaching the entrance to the park, we made our way past two shops that sat on

either side of the road just before the gate. We did stop at these later for ice cream and a few smaller souvenirs, but if you’d prefer to support the park directly, buying souvenirs from a station at the base of the Tower is also an option. 

It took us about twenty minutes to get from the entrance to the parking lot, but once we got there, the park rangers directed us and we were able to find a space quickly. On one side of the parking lot is the tower trail entrance, and on the other is the park ranger station with climbers, hikers and tourists going in and out. Stepping inside of the station, you immediately see several displays of facts about the local area and the tower itself, as well as Native American culture, lifestyle and legends related to the tower.

Devils Tower got its name from Col. Richard Irving Dodge during an expedition in 1875, when he misinterpreted the name given to the tower by a local native tribe to mean “Bad Gods Tower”. President Theodore Roosevelt established Devils Tower as the country's first national monument in 1906. 

Another draw to the tower for people is the challenge of reaching its summit. People have been climbing the tower since July 4, 1893, when the first ascent was accomplished with a wooden ladder by William Rogers. The ladder still remains attached to the tower to this day, and visitors can see the tower via a telescope on the trail. 

Now, roughly 5,000 to 6,000 people make the climb yearly; but for those aspiring to make the 867-foot summit, remember to get that high-risk activity waiver signed by your commander!

Wrapped around the base of the tower is a small walking trail that is approximately a mile long, but is a fantastic way to see every angle of the structure. There are a few more trails scattered around the area as well that are less traveled. 

After hiking the tower trail, we had a bit of extra time left in the day, so we headed up to the Montana border to take a picture with the welcome to Montana sign; sadly though, there was no sign on Highway 112 and we ended up just snapping a picture of where the road changes.

The ride back is always the worst part, but between Sarah’s taste in music and how clear the highways were, the drive went quickly. Overall, Devils Tower was fantastic and well worth the drive. If you’re ever looking for a fun day trip, this should be a go-to!