History & Culture
Perspectives of the Tower
Gazing up at the Tower, you see only one side at a time. Driving from the park entrance to the visitor center offers you views of the different sides. The Tower Trail and other hikes offer changing views of the Tower. Even approaching the Tower from the highway, one is offered varying viewpoints. The myriad faces of the Tower offer us many perspectives of the geologic formation. To truly see the Tower, one must observe it from all perspectives.
To understand the place called Devils Tower also requires many perspectives. Ancient peoples have lived around the Tower for thousands of years; their modern descendants still maintain a connection with this place on a physical and a spiritual level. Oral histories passed down by various American Indian tribes, as well as their present-day ceremonies, offer us important perspectives of the Tower.
The first white settlers and explorers offer us another perspective - how this land was viewed and used during the late 1800s. The Tower and surrounding area received early protection at the behest of Wyoming's first residents and political representatives. It was used as a summer gathering place for locals, drawn to the massive rock just as humans were from antiquity.
More perspectives were added as the Tower received national recognition and protection. The National Park Service was created 10 years after its designation as the first national monument. The dual mission of protecting this place and providing recreation opportunities for the public are an ongoing challenge as people's perspectives of the Tower continue to evolve.
Today, the perspectives of the Tower are as varied as its faces. The park service, American Indians, rock climbers, local residents, and visitors from around the world contribute to these perspectives.
This section of the park website will introduce you to these perspectives. The pages will look at the people who have contributed to the history of the Tower; they will examine the places associated with the site; they will share the stories that contribute to the culture of what became America's first national monument.
For those fascinated with early park history, "The First Fifty Years" (PDF, 47kb,11 pgs.) is a historical report on the monument that includes some of the information found on these web pages. Drafted by historian Ray Mattison in 1955, it contains details on early exploration, settlement and management of the Tower.
Last updated: March 23, 2017