Tower-Roosevelt Area

Rain falls on the Absaroka Mountains as sun lights the mist

Many geological features in the Tower-Roosevelt area, including the Absaroka Mountain range, were shaped by volcanic events.

NPS/Herbert

 

Things to Do in the Tower-Roosevelt Area

  • Horseback Riding
  • Stage Coach Tours

 

Geology in the Tower-Roosevelt Area

The geology of the Tower are is varied. Major landforms are expressions of geologic events that helped shape much of the Yellowstone area. Absaroka volcanics, glaciation, and erosion have left features as varied as Specimen Ridge's petrified trees to the gorges along the Yellowstone River's Black Canyon and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Mt. Washburn and the Absaroka Range are both remnants of ancient volcanic events that formed the highest peaks in the Tower District. Ancient eruptions, perhaps 45 to 50 million years ago, buried the forests of Specimen Ridge in ash and debris flows. The columnar basalt formations near Tower Fall, the volcanic breccias of the "towers" themselves, and numerous igneous outcrops all reflect the district's volcanic history.

Later, glacial events scoured the landscape, exposing the stone forests and leaving evidence of their passage throughout the district. The glacial ponds and huge boulders (erratics) between the Lamar and Yellowstone rivers are remnants left by the retreating glaciers. Lateral and terminal moraines are common in these areas. Such evidence can also be found in the Hellroaring and Slough creek drainages, on Blacktail Plateau, and in the Lamar Valley.

The eroding power of running water has been at work in the district for many millions of years. The pinnacles of Tower Fall, the exposed rainbow colors of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone at Calcite Springs, and the gorge of the Black Canyon all are due, at least in part, to the forces of running water and gravity.

In the Lamar River Canyon lie exposed outcrops of gneiss and schist which are among the oldest rocks known in Yellowstone, perhaps more than two billion years old. Little is known about their origin due to their extreme age. Through time, heat and pressure have altered these rocks from their original state, further obscuring their early history. Only in the Gallatin Range are older outcrops found within the boundaries of the park.

 
Prepare for Your Trip
 

Backcountry Offices

The Tower District has no visitor center, museum, or formal interpretive contact stations.

Three ranger stations are located in the Tower District. These are located at Tower Junction, the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, and the Northeast Entrance. The Tower Ranger Station issues backcountry and fishing permits. The building, constructed in 1923, is a remodeled reconstruction of the second Tower Soldier Station, originally constructed in 1907. The Lamar Ranger Station, located at the Buffalo Ranch in the Lamar Valley, provides emergency visitor services only. The ranger station is also used as housing for the Lamar ranger and is a historic structure (one of four at the Buffalo Ranch) on the National Register of Historic Places. It was constructed around the turn of the century. The Northeast Entrance Ranger Station is a National Historic Landmark that was constructed in 1934-35.

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