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Title: Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
Author: United States. National Park Service
Language: English
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                              Handbook 111
                              Devils Tower

                     Devils Tower National Monument

                        Division of Publications
                         National Park Service

                    U.S. Department of the Interior
                         Washington, D.C. 1984

                   The National Park Handbook Series

National Park Handbooks, compact introductions to the great natural and
historic places administered by the National Park Service, are designed
to promote understanding and enjoyment of the parks. Each is intended to
be informative reading and a useful guide before, during, and after a
park visit. More than 100 titles are in print. This is Handbook 111. You
may purchase the handbooks through the mail by writing to Superintendent
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC 20402.

                            About This Book

Devils Tower National Monument is in the Black Hills of northeastern
Wyoming. The major attractions are the volcanic rock Tower and protected
prairie dog communities. This handbook is published in support of the
National Park Service’s management policies and interpretive programs at
the park. Part 1 of the handbook gives a brief introduction to the park
and its history; Part 2 takes a close look at the area’s natural history
and, in particular, prairie dogs; and Part 3 presents concise travel
guide and reference materials.

           Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Main entry under title:

  Devils Tower
  (National park handbook: 111)
  Bibliography: p.
  Includes index.
  Supt. of docs. no.: I 29.9/5:111
  1. Devils Tower National Monument (Wyo.)
  I. United States. National Park Service. Division of Publications.
  II. Series: Handbook (United States. National Park Service. Division
          of Publications); 111.
  F767.D47D48 978.7′13 81-607961


  Part 1 Welcome to Devils Tower                                        4
      Mateo Tepee                                                       9
  Part 2 Taking a Closer Look                                          20
      _By Greg Beaumont_
      A Day at Devils Tower                                            22
      Prairie Dogs: A Tight-Knit Society                               48
  Part 3 Guide and Adviser                                             66
      Regional Map                                                     68
      Visiting the Park                                                69
      Park Regulations                                                 71
      Climbing the Tower                                               72
      Nearby National Parks                                            74
      Not So Nearby National Parks                                     76
      Armchair Explorations                                            78
  Index                                                                79

                      1    Welcome to Devils Tower

    [Illustration: _Rising nearly straight up from the plains, Devils
    Tower accentuates the differences in the scale of life. The
    snow-dusted, volcanic sentinel dwarfs the forest at its base._]

    [Illustration: _Smaller still, and requiring our closer look in
    different seasons, are butterflies, flowers, and, below, pine

    [Illustration: Pine seedlings.]

                              Mateo Tepee

Devils Tower rises dramatically and abruptly out of the Black Hills
above the Belle Fourche River in northeastern Wyoming. These Black Hills
are an island in the Great Plains, the heart of the American West. The
aura of this West and of its history, folklore, and legend is a fondly
nurtured American treasure. Never just The West, it is rather the Scenic
West, or the Old West, or the True West, and of course the Wild West.
Each epithet suggests that no one can pay homage to the region without
resorting to its curious mixture of the known and the unknown, of truth
and myth. Here is a land of blue skies, magnificent rock formations, and
a clear, dry atmosphere that easily confuses and distorts your sense of
distance. It is a land of mountain views, long probing rivers, deserts,
and high plains and space—great unfathomable oceans of space. The West
is the archetypal outdoors whose recreation possibilities forever grip
the modern imagination.

A trip to Devils Tower National Monument is a trip to Wyoming, a state
fully proud of its Western traditions. Car license plates display the
bucking bronco to advertise “the land of the cowboy,” a motif repeated
in many public places and widely observed in the casual manner of its

A trip to Devils Tower is also a trip to the Black Hills, an island of
life rising out of the more arid Great Plains. Devils Tower sits on the
Black Hills’ western fringe and is in fact the area’s most remarkable
landmark. The Tower still evokes the mystery of this land where whites
feared to travel until as late as 1876, the year General George
Armstrong Custer and his cavalry fought—and were annihilated—in the
battle of the Little Big Horn River in Montana. This last great victory
of the Sioux and Cheyenne who refused reservation life made them hunted
outlaws among whites. Their relatives on reservations soon gave away the
tribal lands and with this went the Indians’ last hope of remaining free
to travel and hunt from their revered Black Hills base.

To speak of history in Wyoming is to speak of a mere hundred years.
Events in the settlement are so recent that many residents can recite
them as part of their family history. Before that are the oral histories
of the Sioux, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Crow, and other tribes whose dates of
occupation are but vaguely known.

Gold discoveries in today’s South Dakota portion of the Black Hills
forced the final clash with the plains tribes. Custer had confirmed gold
reports and the pressure of the excited rush that followed broke the
government’s earlier treaty resolve to preserve forever the Indians’
sovereignty over the Black Hills.

Settlers carrying American civilization to the West by the overland
route to California, Oregon Territory, and Mormon Utah then quickly
flowed into this backwater area. As the frenzied furor over Black Hills
gold diminished and mines and creeks played out, homesteaders settled on
lands parceled out for ranches. Along the Belle Fourche River, where the
plains Indian tribes had sometimes spent winters, a new era opened under
this brooding tower of rock called Mateo Tepee.

Place names in the West can be powerfully suggestive of history, but
they can also be very unreliable; Devils Tower for instance. To the
Indians this singular occurrence of dramatically upthrust rock marked
the dwelling place of bears, hence Mateo Tepee or “Bear Lodge.” Their
stories told of lost youngsters who were chased by a giant bear and
climbed on top of a rock in a last desperate effort to save themselves.
The children appealed to the spirits and the rock grew up out of the
ground to lift the children out of the giant bear’s reach. Versions of
this story belong to different tribes, but most have in common the
bear’s futile attempt to claw its way to the top. This clawing left
permanent grooves on the Tower.

Colonel Richard I. Dodge apparently had not heard these stories when he
entered the Black Hills in 1875. In charge of a large military escort to
a scientific team, he came in violation of Indian treaty rights after
Custer’s 1874 expedition which had reported gold. Dodge noted that his
questions to the Indians about this “terra incognita” known as the Black
Hills were met with “studied silence.” This only heightened a true
explorer’s curiosity. Perhaps the Indian scouts affected a calculated
silence, hoping the whites would leave. When the great rock tower first
loomed in sight, they told Dodge it was named, “with proper modification
by our surveyors,” the Devils Tower. In later years few could recall why
this name was used.

If it was meant to scare off these white explorers and those to follow,
it did not. The new wave of American settlers did not believe that
natural objects held supernatural powers. No matter how awesome or
unusual, science had an explanation for everything in nature, or would
eventually. Devils Tower was determined to be the core of an ancient
volcano, an obelisk of volcanic trachyte, with sides so straight that
one “could only look upward in despair of ever planting his feet on the
top,” as one geologist in Dodge’s expedition put it.

The desire to conquer and tame nature, the view that men could use up
natural things and discard them without asking the spirits, differed
greatly from Indian concepts. While the tools and equipment of an
advanced civilization could not be resisted, the explanation white men
gave for their world could never satisfy the Indians. How uncomfortable
it must have been for them when they were asked to relate their tribal
stories of places such as Mateo Tepee, about which there could be no
“proof!” One day a man would find a way to plant his feet on top of
Devils Tower, and it would be hailed as a personal feat of strength and
daring having nothing to do with the spirit of the bear that dwelt
within his lodge.

In the 20-year period after the opening of the Black Hills, cowmen and
sheepherders discovered the hilly prairies and spacious grasslands that
spread from the Belle Fourche River as far west as the Big Horn
Mountains. Cattle trailed up from Texas flourished into great herds that
freely roamed the open range. The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
extended its line from Nebraska northwestward to Gillette, which quickly
became the system’s largest shipping point. As many as 12,000 beef
cattle and 40,000 head of sheep at a time waited at the railroad to be
sent to eastern meatpackers. Wyoming became a state in 1890, its history
already indelibly colored by the cowboy lifestyle and territorial range

Cowboy songs and stories of Western American folklore often mentioned
the Belle Fourche River. The first ranchers to settle along it
established small-scale cattle outfits centered about Hulett within
sight of Devils Tower. These early-day settlers may not have revered the
Tower as the Indians did, but neither were they disposed to see it
exploited for private gain. There was enough feeling to cause Wyoming’s
Senator Francis E. Warren to introduce into the U.S. Senate in July of
1892 a bill to establish Devils Tower National Park. Congressional
support for the bill fizzled, but the General Land Office in Washington
had already withdrawn from settlement several sections of land adjoining
the Tower and the Little Missouri Buttes to the northwest. Protection of
Devils Tower was at least temporarily assured.

The same year the park bill failed, two men now famous in the history of
the West traveled to Devils Tower hoping against hope like any other
tourists that it would match their own expectations. Photographer
William H. Jackson had been commissioned by the State of Wyoming to
photograph the State’s scenic attractions for the World’s Columbian
Exposition the next year in Chicago. With him traveled a friend, the
landscape painter Thomas Moran. Their round trip from the railhead at
Gillette, by horse-drawn wagon lasted four days. Moran described the
adventure in a magazine article illustrated by his drawings, and a
Jackson photo of the Tower ended up in Chicago. In their one afternoon
there, they had produced the first widely known visual records of Devils

Jackson and Moran’s unceremonious visit to the Tower in 1892 was
undoubtedly forgotten in the rush of excitement the next year.
Homesteaders, ranchers, and cowhands and their families flocked in
unusual numbers to celebrate Independence Day at Devils Tower. Handbills
called the Tower one of the greatest natural wonders in the United
States and announced that “the rarest sight of a lifetime” would be
observed at the festivities. The news obviously spread far, for more
than 1,000 people made the trip.

The ballyhoo surrounded William Rogers. A local cowboy, he became, as
far as anybody knew, the first human being to set foot on top of the
Tower. He and a climbing partner, Willard Ripley, made the ascent by way
of a wooden ladder they had worked on all that spring for the first 107
meters (350 feet) of the Tower. Those who knew the tall and raw-boned
Rogers said he was never afraid of man or devil. After ceremonies on the
ground, he and Ripley scrambled over the boulder field and started up
the ladder with the cheers of the crowd presumably ringing in their
ears. The climb took only an hour, the riskiest part of the business
having been accomplished in the days preceding the event.

    [Illustration: _While the Tower draws our eyes upward, playful
    prairie dogs invite us to look downward—to their burrows on the
    level grassland between the Tower and the Belle Fourche River._]

    [Illustration: _These communal animals are forever on the alert
    against such predators as the screech owl._]

    [Illustration: _William Rogers, above right, relaxes at the Tower
    with his wife, stepdaughter, and dog. Rogers and Willard Ripley, the
    first persons to climb to the summit, had driven wooden pegs into a
    vertical crack between two columns on the southeast side and
    connected the outer edge of the pegs with a wooden strip. Mrs.
    Rogers used the ladder exactly two years later to become the first
    woman to reach the top. The last to use it, in 1927, was Babe White,
    who was known for his exploits climbing city skyscrapers. Remnants
    of the ladder can still be seen today._]

    [Illustration: _The handbill for the first ascent, on July 4, 1893,
    touted the event as better than the World’s Fair._]

                             DEVIL’S TOWER


                             _Situated in_
                         CROOK COUNTY, WYOMING.

The Devil’s Tower is a perpendicular column of rock and no human being
has ever stepped on its top.

On July 4th, 1893, Old Glory will be hung to the breeze from the top of
the Tower, 800 feet from the ground by Wm. Rogers.

_The committee and citizens of Crook County have organized the July 4th


                  Hon. N. K. Griggs.    Beatrice, Neb.
               Col. Wm. R. Steele.    Deadwood, So. Dak.
 Presentation of costume to Mr. Rogers by ladies of Deadwood, So. Dak.
Presentation of Flag to be floated on the Tower by ladies of Spearfish,
                                So. Dak.

                          Marshal of the Day:

               E. B. Armstrong.    Sheriff, Crook County

                            Aids to Marshal:

                       Chas. Williams,    Hulett.
                       Harry Stevens,    Barrett.
                        John Mahnken,    Eothen.
                         Ed. Ludlow,    Beulah.
                   Wm. H. Southerland,    Riverdale.
                       Emd Krouse,    Inyan Kara.
                      Mead Fish,    Black Buttes.
                    R. Williams,    Williams Divide.
                         E. L. Burke,    Tower.
                        Ed. Fitch,    Gillette.
                      Leroy Salisbury,    Linden.
                         Tom Nefsy,    Linden.
                         A. S. Bender,    Alva.

                   LOTS OF HAY AND GRAIN FOR HORSES.
                         Dancing day and night.

Perfect order will be maintained. The rarest sight of a life time will
be observed, and the 4th of July will be better spent at the Devil’s
Tower than at the World’s Fair.

                  BY ORDER OF Crook County Committee.

    [Illustration: _Parachutist George Hopkins, top second from left,
    and Superintendent Newell F. Joyner are interviewed by a Denver
    radio announcer on October 6, 1941, after Hopkins was rescued from
    the top, where he had spent six days._]

    [Illustration: _Jan Conn and Joan Showacre were members of the first
    all-woman party to climb the Tower, in 1952. Fritz Wiessner in 1937
    and Jack Durrance in 1938 pioneered two of the first technical
    climbing routes. In 1948 Jan Conn climbed to the top with her
    husband, Herb._]

When they reached the top, Rogers and Ripley strung up Old Glory from a
flagpole they had somehow already managed to carry to the top! It was a
spectacle in which many in the crowd below could claim a part. Muslin
for the oversized flag apparently was purchased in Sundance, Wyoming,
where it was painted and sewn together by a committee of boosters.
Someone, it is said, had tailored a patriotic climbing suit of red,
white, and blue that was presented to Rogers at ceremonies before the

Ranchers who witnessed the event said that while Rogers may indeed have
risked his neck on the Tower, he reaped an entrepreneurial bonanza
afterwards. During the daylong merriment and the dancing that evening,
his wife and his partner’s wife ran the only refreshment stand. The
flag, which had blown down, was cut up and sold for souvenirs, and the
ladies made a small fortune. Perhaps the boast of the handbill published
that year by the Crook County Commissioners was true: It was possible to
have a better time at Devils Tower that summer than in Chicago at the
World’s Fair.

Rogers and Ripley raised a public spectacle perhaps not equalled until
the caper of “Devils Tower George” Hopkins, the subject of a 1941
Tower-top rescue mission by alpinist Jack Durrance. Hopkins parachuted
to the top and was stranded, keeping millions of newspaper readers in
suspense over his fate atop the isolated rock monument few had ever
seen. Durrance rescued his man five days later. Devils Tower again
loomed in the national imagination, with the screening of the film
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” And in 1979 a televised sports
show featured George Willig, the “human fly,” whose climbing antics were
beamed nationwide via space satellite. As we entered the decade of the
1980s the number of registered climbs of Devils Tower surpassed the
10,000 mark. But that’s jumping ahead too quickly in the chronology of
this story.

At the turn of the century, the Tower became a natural meeting place for
people who might see each other but once a summer at a Fourth of July
celebration. Oldtimers recall that a small, rough-cut wooden platform
served as a dance floor; the merry-go-round had seats for four children
at most; and the home-grown orator read the Declaration of Independence.
The affairs were fun and lasted for days. People camped at the Tower,
and sometimes those who came across the river from the east were
stranded by a quick summer flood.

In time, the harshness of the frontier softened a bit. Towns and cities
replaced crude settlements and provided secure bases from which to look
out at the wonders of the land. The newly arrived settlers made the West
their own. And, to compress time and events into a few words, some
people began to think about protecting some of the uniqueness of the

The National Park System owes its existence to this dawning of a
conservation ethic in the late 19th century. Yellowstone, in
northwestern Wyoming, became the first national park in 1872. A few
other tracts were set aside as parks in subsequent years, but the
preservation movement surged in 1906, when Congress passed the
Antiquities Act. The President now had the authority to create national
monuments. Not only scenery was to remain unspoiled in these monuments,
but also priceless Indian ruins, pottery, and projectiles and other
objects of antiquity were to be protected from looting collectors.
President Theodore Roosevelt made conservation a national goal and used
the Antiquities Act to proclaim the first eighteen national monuments.
Devils Tower National Monument became the first, created on September
24, 1906, giving Wyoming both the first national park and the first
national monument.

    [Illustration: _Light and shadows constantly play upon the Tower’s
    splintered, many-sided columns._]

The next campaign was for money to build a bridge over the Belle Fourche
River. By 1916, when the local families gathered at the Tower for
another July Fourth picnic, it seemed that Congress would never
appropriate money to turn the place into a proper public resort. A
petition to Wyoming’s Congressman Frank W. Mondell complaining about
washed out trails and difficult access to the Tower was circulated among
the 1916 picnickers and may have done some good. The next year, the
newly created National Park Service directed the building of an entrance
road, soon to be improved again for auto traffic. By the end of the
1920s Wyoming’s participation in the national enthusiasm for highway
construction was showing results. Old pathways followed by the Sioux,
later broadened for buckboard wagon and stagecoach, were now graded and
oiled for motorcars. A trip to the West was no longer an expedition of
months: cross-country motoring had arrived.

    [Illustration: _An aerial view discloses the tear-drop shape of the
    top and the extent of the Great Plains around the Tower._]

Through the Depression years from 1931 to 1941 the number of tourists,
vacationers, and sightseers tripled at Devils Tower. And in the
meantime, an army of unemployed laborers and artisans, organized as the
Civilian Conservation Corps, applied themselves to public works projects
throughout the country. At last the park received the attention its
admirers said it deserved. CCC workers built new roads over an access
bridge only a few years old. Overnight campgrounds were landscaped and
picnic areas were provided with tables and benches. Formal walking
trails were made for orderly hiking excursions around the base of the
Tower. Water and electrical systems were installed, and in 1935 a museum
was built out of rough-hewn logs. The museum, filled with exhibits,
still stands at the foot of Tower Trail and serves as a summer visitor
center, book sales outlet, and registration office for climbers.

Ask the average traveler to Devils Tower for his or her impressions and
invariably two things come to mind, or, more properly, stand tall. One
is the immutable, immobile Tower; the other is the animated, lively
prairie dog. The national monument has become one of several reserves
for this beleaguered plains inhabitant, whose communal lifestyle is
profiled in Part 2 of this handbook. Like the Tower, it is misnamed, but
so fixed is it in our minds and experience that it will likely always
remain so. Subjected to eradication campaigns throughout the plains area
because of conflicts with livestock enterprises, these otherwise
personable rodents are protected here at Devils Tower National Monument.

The visitor conveniences that were so long in coming to Devils Tower are
now enjoyed by nearly 300,000 persons every year. They come for
mid-June’s display of wildflowers, or mid-September’s fall colors. They
come to challenge themselves in the tradition of William Rogers and
Willard Ripley. They come to watch the prairie dogs bustle about in
near-parody of our own busyness. But most of all the Tower inspires a
swing-by on the way east or west, prompting some travelers to tarry for
a day or two on this pleasant plainsland.

                       2    Taking a Closer Look

                            By Greg Beaumont

    [Illustration: _The Belle Fourche River meanders through
    northeastern Wyoming, exposing red banks of clay. It crosses the
    southeastern corner of Devils Tower National Monument near the
    entrance road._]

                         A Day at Devils Tower

Pouring a mug of boiled coffee, I wait for the sun to make its
appearance. The cup steams in the damp, cool morning air. Shivering, I
press both hands to the heat the thick porcelain holds.

The sky begins to purple, and stars dim perceptibly. Through the
campground cottonwoods, the immense, shadow-black bulk of the Tower
materializes against the sky. It is possible now to discern the flight
of bats overhead. But, in an instant, their swirling, night-long ballet
vanishes with the darkness.

From my campsite along the Belle Fourche—this narrow, meandering river
the French fur trappers named “the beautiful branch”—I listen to the
first sounds of the day. Across the river a great horned owl protests
the morning’s swift advance. Coming through the veil of river fog, its
haunting, pervasive _hoo-hoo-hoooo_ is enough to freeze the blood of

Even before the first hint of light, robins had begun to sing softly. In
these unhurried morning songs they prove themselves thrushes. With the
increasing light, the growing blend of wren, vireo, and thrasher music
intensifies. These soft phrasings soon quicken into proclamations of
territory, and meadowlarks, mourning doves, and yellowthroats compete
across thicket, river, and meadow, their singing seemingly sharpened for
distance and authority.

Nearby, a cottontail grazes on the dew-bent grass. It pauses
occasionally, pointing its ears and working its nostrils in my
direction. Three whitetail deer continue their cautious single-file
approach, heading from the river bottom toward the higher ground of the
prairie dog town. Crossing the campground, they repeatedly stop to
inspect their surroundings. A log snaps and whistles in my fire,
bringing their heads about in immediate, almost mechanical unison.
Deliberately the lead animal lifts its tail to expose its white, silent
signal of danger, and all three step smartly away as if in time to a
fast metronome.

Direct sunlight spotlights the Tower. As though to challenge the sudden
appearance of a gigantic, equally yellow competitor, a meadowlark takes
wing, singing its loud, clear claim over the prairie dog town. Dawn is
announced, the day begun.

The level rays of the sun accentuate the Tower’s vertical polygonal
columns. The stark contrast of light and shadow imparted by the graceful
taperings of the soaring, many-sided columns give the Tower a man-made
look. In this light it resembles the ruin of a stupendous ancient
temple, not the casual result of some remote geological event.

Sipping the strong coffee, I wonder at the long procession of vanished
Indian societies that camped and hunted here periodically through the
centuries. These ancient peoples devised various stories to explain such
an unusual landmark. And yet what science now says about the creation of
Devils Tower would have seemed to those tribes as fantastic as their
legends of a gargantuan bear gouging the rock seem to us today. Minor
uncertainties remain, but geologists have pieced together a rough
picture of the Tower’s probable origin. Some 60 million years ago, great
Earth stresses began to deform the crust of the continent, resulting in
the uplifting of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains region. As the
surface rock layers began to crumple and fault, magma from deep inside
the Earth welled up into many of the resulting gaps and fissures. In
many places on the continent, spectacular volcanoes formed, erupting
with explosive force.

As the Rockies were being created, the climate of the continent’s
interior began to change. The long reign of the dinosaurs that had
presided over a stable, tropical landscape was coming to an end. The
climate was gradually becoming cooler and drier. Doubtless the immense
volumes of volcanic ash ejected into the atmosphere prevented a
percentage of solar heat from reaching the Earth. Certainly the rise of
the Rocky Mountains to the west influenced the old weather patterns. As
the mountain blocks rose higher, they intercepted the warm, moist winds
that blew inland from the Pacific. With the air masses rising ever
higher, more and more of the moisture that had watered the extensive
inland Cretaceous forests and swamplands was prevented from reaching
what we know today as the Great Plains.

Steadily the forests retreated eastward as the “rain shadow” cast by the
mountains extended eastward, shutting off the moist, warm Pacific winds.
No longer moderated by these winds, the mid-continent was increasingly
opened to seasonal invasions of northern arctic air. Newer ecosystems,
such as deserts and grasslands, slowly evolved to replace the lush
forests and swamps that had for so long sustained the dinosaurs. Just as
drought, fire, and temperature extremes began to alter the old order in
the plant kingdom, so did the more adaptable mammals and birds begin to
replace reptiles as dominant animal forms.

    [Illustration: _Both the Kiowa and Cheyenne Indians held similar
    legends on the origin of the Tower. The story goes that tribal
    members were surprised by a gigantic bear, and their incantations
    caused a low, flat rock to rise, lifting them above the reach of the
    bear. The massive beast then gouged huge vertical marks into the
    rock as it attempted to reach the people. Finally, the Indians were
    able to kill the bear._]

But not all the magma that welled upward during this restless period
reached the Earth’s surface. Extensive masses were trapped far below the
surface, where they gradually cooled and congealed. The Missouri Buttes
and Devils Tower, however, are believed to be necks of extinct
volcanoes. Geologic evidence indicates the Missouri Buttes formed first
in two separate eruptions. The magma hardened, plugging the plumbing
underneath. A third eruption to the southeast resulted in Devils Tower.

During the ensuing tens of millions of years, the gradual erosion of the
overlying rock strata revealed these intruded plugs of volcanic rock.
Since this dense, hard igneous rock resists erosion much better than the
surrounding sedimentary rock, these formations will continue to stand
out as features.

That ancient land of sedimentary rock through which the molten mass of
Devils Tower penetrated may at one time have been as high as the golden
eagle I now see drifting high above the Tower. Circling slowly in its
morning hunt, the eagle spirals upward on the currents of warm air
rising off the sun-heated rock. Perhaps it now soars at the elevation of
the land long ago when the heavy, ringing-hard rock of Devils Tower
oozed like paste far below the surface.

Today the top of the Tower is 386 meters (1,267 feet) above the Belle
Fourche River. If that warm, Cretaceous landscape rested 600 meters
(2,000 feet) above the present summit of the Tower, then more than 900
vertical meters (3,000 feet) of sedimentary rock has been pared away in
the last 60 million years.

The relentless physical agents of erosion—running water, wind, and frost
action—together with chemical breakdown of rock particles, continue to
alter the landform. Given enough time, even the very hard rock of the
Tower itself will waste away.

Sixty million years ago, when dinosaurs _Triceratops_ and _Tyrannosaurus
Rex_ duelled beside the lush river banks of the predecessor of the Belle
Fourche, the ancestor of the golden eagle was flying overhead. Millions
of years hence, a descendant of the eagle might soar above this same
Wyoming landscape. Missing will be the unique shaft of fluted rock we
call Devils Tower. And what of the men, who for a mere eyeblink of time,
hunted in its shadow or came to wonder at its somber countenance in the
morning sun?

                      The Tower’s Geological Story

    [Illustration: About 60 million years ago, in early Tertiary times,
    a mass of molten magma forced its way upward through the relatively
    level layers of red, yellow, green, and gray Jurassic sedimentary
    rocks that make up northeastern Wyoming. The mass cooled into a
    hard, igneous rock called phonolite porphyry. An earlier flow of
    magma occurred about 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) to the northwest.]

    [Illustration: As millions of years went by, the soft sedimentary
    rocks were eroded, exposing what eventually became known as Devils
    Tower and the Little Missouri Buttes. The erosion process continued,
    baring more and more of the dense, gray rock. Apparently, as the
    magma cooled, the rock contracted and fractured into columns of 4,
    5, 6, or more sides. The larger columns are 2.5 meters (8 feet) in
    diameter at their base and taper to about 1.2 meters (4 feet) at the

    [Illustration: Today the Tower rises 264 meters (867 feet) from its
    base to an elevation of 1,560 meters (5,117 feet). The top is 386
    meters (1,267 feet) above the Belle Fourche River at the entrance
    road. The tear-drop shaped top measures 91 meters (300 feet) from
    north to south and 55 meters (180 feet) from west to east. The sides
    rise almost vertically from the base for 12 to 30 meters (40 to 100
    feet) to a narrow bench, from which they again rise steeply to the

A _thwack_ of an ax against wood puts an end to my daydreaming. My
companion the cottontail hops for cover. The pair of magpies that have
been feeding on the remains of a road-killed ground squirrel flash
upward to safety. The gradual awakening of campground life inspires
woodpeckers to hammer in the cottonwoods, and a yellow-breasted chat
adds its odd jibber to the collected noise.

Gathering up knapsack and camera. I start my hike to the Tower. Already
the sash of river fog has lifted and the air warmed to shirtsleeve
comfort. From somewhere on the red cliffs that gown the Tower’s base,
the faint singing of a rock wren beckons. Ahead lie 13 kilometers (8
miles) of trail, looping through a mosaic of sights, sounds, and smells
of grassland, pine forest, woodland, and river.

                      From Dog Town to Ant Colony

Leaving the campground, I follow the trail that leads through the
prairie dog town. The prairie dogs stand upright as I approach. The ones
nearest the path begin their warning call, a monotonous
“_churk-churk-churk-churk_.” The closer an intruder comes, the lower the
animals sink into their holes, and the faster and shriller the chant
becomes. Finally, with a last flick of its nervously twitching tail,
each disappears into the safety of its burrow.

Prairie dogs, like the bison that once shared their vast range, are now
reduced to remnant populations. Two hundred years ago, there were
billions of prairie dogs on the shortgrass plains; these large ground
squirrels had successfully adapted themselves to the harsh conditions.
Perfect digging machines, they escape most predators and the extremes of
the weather by spending more than half their lives underground.

The prairie dogs near the road do not even bother to sound a warning as
I approach. They seem to be different creatures from the wild,
suspicious animals farther from the road. Laconic and fat from handouts,
more curious than cautious, they approach rather than retreat. These
animals are easier targets for the redtail hawk that is screaming above
the river timber, or the golden eagle that sails high overhead.

Across the road, the trail leaves the grassland of the prairie dogs and
climbs steeply among ponderosa pines. Already the sun grows hot. At the
edge of the forest, I stop to rest and survey the landscape before me.
Spread out below, and now shimmering with sundance heat, the
buff-colored dog town stands out in stark contrast with its darker,
greener surroundings.

Although I sit only 30 meters (100 feet) or so above the dog town, I am
struck by what my vantage point reveals: a clear patchwork of life
communities. The loop of the Belle Fourche and the June-bright leaves of
the deciduous trees lining its course provide a bright counterpart to
the somber, pine-scattered ridge beyond. Just a short distance away the
ponderosas appear more black than green. It was just such a quality that
gave the distant, pine-covered mountain range to the east the name
_Black_ Hills.

From where I sit, the lobe of the level bench of land that juts into the
river looks as if it were graded and maintained by man, for its
close-cropped vegetation contrasts greatly with the rugged ridge beyond.
But this old floodplain was graded level by the river, and prairie dogs,
not machines, clip the vegetation.

This small area of grassland, sandwiched between the base of the Tower
and the encircling river, supports a surprising amount of life. Yet from
all appearances, it would seem as if the multitude of prairie dogs would
soon denude their patch of land and die of starvation. In contrast to
the surrounding territory, the vegetation of the dog town appears

Indeed, today’s empty plains give few hints of what a crowded stage the
shortgrass plains once was. Before the coming of the white man, the
grasslands teemed with bison, pronghorn, wapiti—named buffalo, antelope,
and elk respectively by European settlers—and sprawling towns of prairie
dogs. Astounded early observers, accustomed to the lush flora of the
eastern woodlands, could not imagine how so many animals could survive
in such a parched-looking land.

The secret is the grass itself. Whether tinder dry in midsummer or dead
in winter, the grass blades remain highly nutritious. Grass plants can
withstand repeated grazing and fires since new growth progresses from
the stem joints rather than from the tips.

                                                   _continues on page 32_

                      A Glimpse of Life on the Top

    [Illustration: Photographer Galen Rowell and writer Dennis Hanson
    decided to climb the Tower in October 1978 to find out for
    themselves what’s up there. After a strenuous five-hour climb,
    interrupted by occasional clouds of rock doves (below), they reached
    the top and found the surface is not as flat as it appears from down
    below or even from an airplane. Besides grasses, they found
    sagebrush, currant, and prickly pear cactus (below). As they were
    cooking dinner, a wood rat (below) joined them, nibbling at their
    food packets, peering into a pot, and nosing about their climbing
    gear. They also saw chipmunks and plenty of birds (See pages 44-45,
    60-61), but, perhaps because of the coolness of October, they did
    not see any rattlesnakes, which others have found there sometimes.
    How did the animals get to the top? Some people have speculated that
    they were dropped by predatory birds, but that is questionable: they
    probably would have been killed by the birds’ talons or by the
    plunge to the surface. More than likely they just climbed up the
    Tower’s sides and took up residence. Many climbers, of the human
    sort, have reported seeing snakes and rodents working their way up

    [Illustration: What’s on top of the Tower? Most climbers report that
    the summit is similar to the surrounding landscape. Grasses cover
    much of the rocky surface, but better than that, a few snakes and
    mammals live there!]

    [Illustration: Wood rat.]

    [Illustration: Prickly pear cactus.]

    [Illustration: Rock doves.]

In addition, most plains animals contend with the semi-arid conditions
of their environment by making efficient use of available moisture.
Pronghorn, prairie dogs, and kangaroo rats, for example, need never take
a drink since they obtain necessary water from the plants they eat. Such
plant and animal adaptations explain why the shortgrass plains can
sustain such a vast panorama of life.

From a tall pine upslope, a red squirrel chatters with indignation at
discovering my intrusion into its domain. The bell-like song of a rock
wren answers from an outcrop nearby. The small gray bird appears atop a
boulder, motionless but for an instant, then hops down to resume its
search for insects among the bright, arid cliffs it claims for its own.

I realize that I am seeing more than scenery here. All around me are
boundaries—conspicuous where defined by plants, but invisible where
respected by animals. No prairie dog has ever traveled across this
slope, and no red squirrel has ever scurried into the treeless expanse
of the prairie dog town. On no occasion would a rock wren enter the deep
pine forest. Should its food supply somehow vanish, it would perish
among the bare earth and gully washes of its own habitat rather than
hunt the dog town or forest floor.

Each animal species is adapted to the conditions of its preferred
environment. The prairie dog and red squirrel have similar roles in
their respective habitats, as do the meadowlark in the grassland, the
house wren in the deciduous woodlands, the rock wren on barren slopes,
and the brilliant western tanager of the pine forests that is calling
“_pit-ik, pit-ik, pit-ik_” from a branch overhead.

Whether herbivore, carnivore, scavenger, or decomposer, all of the
countless, magnificently varied life-forms of each community share in
the endless flow of chemical energy that originates with the touch of
sun on chlorophyll. Eagle, prairie dog, bacterium, man—we all owe our
lives, directly or indirectly, to the green leaf’s unique ability to
convert light energy into chemical energy.

So does this colony of black ants foraging near my feet. Back and forth
the living lines run, each individual obeying its ancient, perfected
legacy of instinct. One carries aloft the bright green corpse of a
lacewing. With a little last-minute help from fellow workers, the ant
carries its burden down into the nest hole. With its powerful jaws,
another ant tugs the brittle remains of a once formidable foe—a jumping
spider. So intent is the ant in its labor, it fails to avoid a deadly
trap, however. In the soft ground along the margins of the trail is a
craterfield of funnel-shaped pits. At the bottom of each, hidden just
below the soil, waits quick death in the form of jaws even stronger than
the ant’s. These insects, called antlions, are the larval stages of the
equally voracious tiger-beetle.

Having tipped its load over the rim of the funnel, the ant disengages
itself and attempts to crawl up the incline and get to the other side of
the spider to pull it out again. But the loose soil particles offer
little traction and the ant begins to slip. Frantic, it works its legs
faster, making it slide downward more quickly. Alerted now by vibrations
from the struggling insect, a hidden antlion waits its moment to strike.
When the ant touches bottom, the hooked jaws appear, snapping once,
twice, and finally closing shut about the thorax of its prey.

In a moment, all is over, the ant dragged beneath the soil at the bottom
of the crater. The corpse of the spider, part way down the incline, is
occasionally investigated by other passing ants. But the ants at the lip
of the trap seem to sense the danger and leave the stranded prize alone.
Other antlions, at the bottom of their expertly engineered traps, lie
hidden from the passing parade of life above. Obeying their own instinct
messages, they need only wait to survive.

A disturbance in the dog town starts the animals to barking and
scurrying in every direction toward their burrows. Two figures from the
campground have appeared up the incline. Their determined stride and the
coils of rope at their shoulders suggest that the Tower’s summit may
well be explored again today.

Already tall cumulus clouds, the beginnings of thunderheads, are
building along the eastern horizon. A gust of hot air from the sun-baked
ground below rushes into the pines, making the branches whizz into
motion. A pine cone bounds against rock, setting the red squirrel to
chattering again. I head for the Tower Trail, leaving behind the ant
colony’s ordered turbulence and the view of the deserted dog town
dancing in the sun.

                           Eye of the Falcon

At the juncture with the Red Beds Trail, I decide to follow the longer
circuit of the Tower. The higher, shorter Tower Trail, which bracelets
the rock-strewn base, can be picked up at the Visitor Center, where this
trail ends. Folding the map, I hear the climbers approach.

“Good morning.”

The girl’s smile does not soften the concentrated expression all
climbers wear before ascent.

“Which way are you going?” I ask, trying to conceal my lack of knowledge
about any of the routes and knowing full well I would never venture what
they are about to do.

“Left arm of the south face this time,” says the man. He obviously does
not desire the delay of conversation but does volunteer that he had made
several climbs the summer he worked here.

I hold them with another question: is there anything interesting on top?

“Terrific view. Grass on the summit; lots of chipmunks; once a
rattlesnake was sighted. Well, we better get moving.”

“Good luck,” I call after them. The expression seems a lame wish for
rock climbers. Soon they are brightly clad specks weaving through the
trees. Looking up at the summit that towers above them, I wonder how a
chipmunk or snake could have possibly gotten there—perhaps only by
escaping the talons of an eagle or hawk. But could that happen?

More than 1,000 ascents of Devils Tower are now made each year. The
almost casual manner in which experienced climbers regard the
structure—often scaling it to keep in shape for “difficult” climbs—would
have astounded early explorers, who regarded it as unscalable.

Shrill, rapid cries of a prairie falcon echo from the Tower wall.
Although hidden from my view by the pines, its circling flight is
revealed by its bursts of screams. It scolds the climbers who are now
pressing upward and perhaps invading the security of its nest site. But
the commotion soon dies away, indicating that the sharp-eyed falcon is
more annoyed than threatened. Should the climbers inadvertently come
close to the nest, however, the protective bird would repeatedly dive at
the intruders in an attempt to drive them away, a distraction I would
not relish.

I continue down the trail, which gradually drops toward the river. The
pines yield to communities of deciduous vegetation interspersed with
grassy meadows. A whitetail deer stands at the far edge of the narrow
meadow the trail is about to enter. Not yet aware of my presence, it
continues to browse the succulent new growth of a chokecherry.

Were it not for the meadows and wooded ravines that surround the higher
reaches of the pine forest, the Monument could not support as many deer
as it does. Deer like a mix of woodland and meadow. The dense cover of
shrub thickets, canopied by closely spaced elm, chokecherry, hawthorn,
and other trees, offers sanctuary and browse. The nearby meadows provide
essential diet supplements of grasses and herbs.

As I move on, the deer dashes away. A cottontail bounds across the trail
and overhead, on a long, twisted branch of a burr oak, a fox squirrel
scurries upward to safety. A brown thrasher scolds momentarily but soon
resumes its complex song. Its music is as various in shading and
structure as the many leaf shapes that can be discovered in its habitat.

Before abruptly reversing itself, the trail makes a long swing
northward. Leaving the pines, it crosses the maroon sediments that give
the Red Beds Trail its name. The exposed formation has been cut into
steep cliffs by the river. Deposited some 180 million years ago during
the Jurassic Period, when the land surface was low and adjacent to a
sea, this mixture of siltstone and sandstone is poorly cemented
together. As a result, it weathers easily, forming a striking,
ravine-cut outcrop wherever the stratum is exposed. Few plants colonize
this handsome formation, making it stand out against the dull,
igneous-gray Tower and its dark wreath of ponderosa.

As the sun approaches zenith, I am nearing the end of the trail circuit.
Coming back closer to the Tower, the trail re-enters the pine forest. I
welcome the perceptibly cooler air and dimmer surroundings beneath these
big, yellow-barked trees. Here, where lichen and moss cap boulders and
fallen logs, is a good spot for lunch. I sit with my back to the trunk
of an ancient, fallen giant whose length has collapsed and defines the
contours of the ground. Its exposed, rotten heartwood nourishes
miniature fungi-gardens.

Compared to the sharp shadows and glare of the meadows and thickets I
have left behind, the evenly shaded pine forest seems serene. Except for
a diminutive red-breasted nuthatch that patrols up and down a nearby
tree trunk, gleaning grubs and other insects as it goes, there is no
perceptible motion. Even the few shafts of sunlight that touch the
forest floor here seem, like me, to be intruders. Sound itself seems
unwelcome. No birds sing or squabble or dart their colors to catch the
eye. If anything walks or hops about, no leaves rustle to reveal its
presence. Years of needle-cast shroud the uneven ground, giving the
dissimilar shapes of rock and downed trees a sameness of color and

Comparatively few life-forms inhabit the pine forest. Fewer kinds of
plants grow beneath the pines than grow in the deciduous woodland. And
fewer plant types mean a more limited diet for herbivores such as
insects, mice, cottontails, and deer. The scarcity of insects also
reduces the number of bird species that will find the habitat

The relative absence of life on the forest floor begins in the soil.
Pines create acid soil conditions which do not promote bacterial growth.
Decay, therefore, carried on primarily by fungi, takes place very
slowly. The result is the thick accumulation of discarded needles and
branches, the resinous, sweet-smelling “duff.”

Not far upslope from the trail a porcupine scuttles toward a stand of
young pines. It moves slowly and silently, its quills making it look
prehistoric. Again I am struck by the apparent changelessness of the
pine forest.

But looking around, I find everywhere signs that indicate change and
struggle. At the bases of the giant pines—some of which may be more than
200 years old—are fire scars. Most of the mature trees survived the
frequent fires that once raced through here. Their bark was thick and
fire-resistant, and they had few lower branches to pass the flames up
into the vulnerable upper branches. But that was before the white man
interrupted the long reign of wildfire. Ironically, fire had actually
helped to maintain the health of the forest. Grass fires, sweeping into
the pines, burned off the accumulations of litter and killed many of the
crowded younger trees. Tinder was thus removed before it could build to
dangerous levels.

                                                   _continues on page 40_

                          A Home for Wildlife

  Some animals indigenous to the Great Plains find a protected home in
  Devils Tower National Monument. Gone from this area are the bison that
  once roamed the prairie grasslands in great numbers, and the fastest
  plains animal, the pronghorn antelope, is rare. The most noticeable
  mammals here are the whitetail deer and the prairie dog (See pages
  48-65 for pictures and text about the prairie dog and its predators),
  but with careful observation you can spot some of the smaller animals
  that inhabit the grasslands, woodlands, and rocky areas around the

    [Illustration: The raccoon, primarily a nocturnal creature, prefers
    woody or swampy areas and often dens in hollow trees.]

    [Illustration: The porcupine, which has up to 30,000 quills, dwells
    in the forest and often is seen in the tops of trees.]

    [Illustration: The longtail weasel usually lives in deserted burrows
    and preys on small mammals, some birds, and other animals.]

    [Illustration: The rare swift fox sometimes enlarges and inhabits an
    old prairie dog burrow. The red fox is more common here.]

    [Illustration: The pocket gopher is a remarkable burrower, creating
    up to 150 meters (500 feet) of tunnels close to the surface.]

    [Illustration: The thirteen-lined ground squirrel lives in a burrow
    in open areas, feeding mostly on seeds.]

    [Illustration: Whitetail deer mostly inhabit wooded areas in the
    park, though you may see them in clearings. Often they wander into
    the campground near the Belle Fourche River at dawn and dusk,
    providing an added treat to those who spend a night or two in the
    park. Deer usually do not go beyond an area of 4 square kilometers
    (1.5 square miles) even when their food sources are limited. They
    are browsers, eating all foliage they can reach standing on their
    hind legs. So, you may notice most foliage denuded to a 1-meter
    (3-foot) level, especially where their populations are high.

    Whitetail deer can run 56 kilometers (35 miles) per hour, jump 2.7
    meters (8.5 feet) high, and leap about 9 meters (30 feet), all quite

Now, after 80 years of fire-prevention management, the forest is ripe
for fire. Should it come now, however, the effects might be devastating.
Fed by an abundance of ground fuel, a cool-burning, fast-moving grass
fire could quickly become “hot.” Lifted up into the upper branches of
the old pines via the closely spaced younger trees, the ground fire
would quickly develop into a crown fire. Few, if any, trees would
survive such a conflagration.

The role of natural fire has only recently been appreciated. However, in
the small area of Devils Tower, where the scenic qualities of the pine
forest are paramount to visitor enjoyment of the Monument, fire cannot
be permitted without virtual destruction of the surrounding forest.
Thus, for esthetic reasons, fire is regarded as unacceptable here.

After lunch I walk on beneath the trees. The openness of the mature pine
forest soon gives way to dense groves of younger ponderosa. Deprived of
the separation they require to develop naturally, these “doghair” stands
strain upward together their trunks toothpick thin—to reach the light.
Many exhibit long, yellow wounds, from which sap bleeds. This is the
work of porcupines. Gnawing through the thin bark of young trees with
sharp, chisel-shaped teeth, they strip away the tender, living tissue of
the tree. Most wounds are not severe, but should the trunk be girdled,
the moisture and nutrient transport system of the tree will be severed
and the pine will die. Thus, even though fire no longer occurs here
regularly, other agents of control, such as porcupine damage and insect
infestation, continue to work.

The trail emerges from the deep north-slope forest, runs parallel to the
visitor center access road for a short distance, and ends at the parking
lot. The glare of afternoon light and shimmering heat waves is a sharp
contrast to the cool, dim surroundings of the deeper forest.

Before continuing on around the circuit of Tower Trail, I stop at the
visitor center for water. Beside the fountain sits an old man, leaning
his chin and hands on a cane and staring upward at the broad west face
of the Tower. An immense mushroom of a towering cumulus cloud billows up
behind it.

“Quite a sight,” I say.

He seems to deliberate, then finally answers: “I can remember seeing a
picture of this in my school book. I never thought I would live to see
it. Never thought I would ever sit here like this and see it genuine.”

I don’t know what to say. One does not make idle conversation with a man
who has made a pilgrimage. We watch a pair of rock doves, outlined
against the white brilliance of the boiling cloud, ride an updraft near
the summit. Wings set and almost touching, they dip and recover, their
resonant calls clear despite the distance. Nothing more to be said, I
set out toward the trail. Not once did the man take his eyes off the

With the first dull report of thunder, I hear the chiding call of the
falcon again. Its sharp voice momentarily silences the mellow cooings of
rock doves that filter down from the high crannies and ledges.

The trail steeply ascends a slope of broken, fallen columns, weaving
among the immense rock slabs like a mouse-run in a boulder field. I am
surprised to see a grove of aspens. Their crooked trunks bend in the
freshening wind, their leaves dancing and blinking on and off the dusty
silver of their undersides. What a contrast to the rigid stature of the
surrounding pines that barely acknowledge the approaching storm.

The presence of aspen probably means that a fire once swept across this
dry western shoulder. Quick to invade new territory after a fire, aspens
play an important role as a pioneer species of the western and northern
American coniferous forests. Like the ponderosa, they can grow on dry,
rocky sites. Since they often reproduce vegetatively—a grove of aspens
is often produced by sprouting from the roots of a single tree—aspens
are well suited to unstable or fire-swept sites. Although readily
consumed by fire, aspen groves regenerate quickly from their undamaged
root systems. Without periodic fire, in fact, aspens are eventually
excluded from the forest composition, shaded out by the taller growing

The growing turbulence spurs me onward. Hugging the steep upper slopes
of the Tower’s circular base, the trail allows a speedy orbit. The
falcon continues to scream. Now along the southeastern face, I can hear
the climbers shout to one another. The belly of the cloud is overhead
and angry-black. Lightning flashes are now immediately followed by loud
reports, sharp as splitting wood. I should turn back and drop to the
nearby trail that returns to the campground, but the swell of wind in
the pines and the occasional crash of falling snags is invigorating. A
sudden invasion of cold air means the rain will come heavy and soon. I
wonder if the climbers are as unprepared for this as I am.

In a rock crevice where the trail passes along a cliff face, an untidy
ring of trash reveals the nest site of a wood rat. Called “pack rats”
because of their habit of carrying off unguarded items, these big
rodents adorn their nest entrances with anything from bottle caps to
sunglasses. This one has amassed a fine collection of discarded gum and
candy wrappers. As the first large raindrops thud down into the trail’s
soft earth, I envy the animal’s protective retreat.

In ten minutes I am back at the spur that leads to the Visitor Center.
If the old man is still there, perhaps I will wait out the storm with
him beneath the porch roof. But I cannot see him, so I continue on to
the campground. I am already soaked through anyway, so the lashing rain
is no longer a threat. I retrace the section of trail I had walked an
hour before. Ten minutes more and I leave the pines and enter the
deserted, puddled prairie dog town.

Nearing the road, I see a car approaching slowly. As it passes I notice
the old man. Leaning forward, he cranes his neck to catch a last glimpse
of the Tower he had waited so long to see.

                        Voice of the Kingfisher

By late afternoon the storm has passed, and with the return of sunlight
a rainbow arches the Belle Fourche. Taking advantage of the softened
earth, the prairie dogs busily reshape their mounds, scratching dirt
loose, bulldozing it up the slopes of entrance mounds, and tamping it.
All but the young wear black noses. At the return of the climbers the
town suspends its work, rises to alert, and chirps warning.

A meadowlark sings from a fence post near the river. Against the purple
southern sky, its black and yellow vestments seem unnaturally bright,
and its call in the rain-cleared air seems sharply amplified. It glides
into the glistening grass. Soon the female, wearing a duller version of
its mate’s tuxedo, flies up and disappears across the narrow river. When
she returns, her bill is crammed with insects for her demanding young in
their grass-lined ground nest.

A red-headed woodpecker, which has been shuttling between a certain
cottonwood and other trees, also reveals its nest site. High up in the
tree it has excavated a perfectly round hole. Leaning back on stiff tail
feathers, it jerkily climbs up and around the trunk, pauses at the hole,
then leans in to deliver the white grub to its squealing young.

So insatiable are nestling birds, their demands exert a significant
control on insect populations. A pair of adult house wrens may log more
than 1,100 daily trips to feed their young.

That so many varieties of birds can co-exist in the same area is
possible because different species generally do not compete with one
another for the same food source. Each gleans its food in a slightly
different manner and locale. Each species vigorously defends its
territory from others of its kind but will tolerate neighbors that
occupy a different niche in the community. A single plum thicket may
contain the nests of a pair of catbirds, mourning doves, robins, and
vireos. Because each bird hunts its food in a slightly different manner
and place, they do not directly compete.

The cliff-nesting swifts and swallows have reappeared above the river, a
twittering confusion of swirling, darting shapes that manage to survive
by capturing insects on the wing. Higher up, the booming of nighthawks
announces that insects are active in the upper air also.

After supper I walk along the river. Now that shadows fill the river
bed, there might be an opportunity to see a beaver working or a mink
hunting along the shore. Passing close to where the meadowlarks have
their nest, I cause a panic of concern. Both birds, invisible a second
ago, lift off the ground, scolding and threatening, to distract my
attention from the location of the nest. The outcry brings a killdeer up
from the shore of the river. Uttering its plaintive, reedy cry, it
circles about, lands, runs rapidly along the bank, then crouches down to
display a “broken” wing. It is joined by a mate and both birds take up
the act, leading me away from their own eggs or helpless young hiding
motionless on the ground. So adept are the killdeer at this diversion,
it seems incredible that instinct and not intelligence is responsible
for their highly specialized behavior.

                                                   _continues on page 46_

                         A Sanctuary for Birds

    [Illustration: Among those birds living in the forest at the base of
    the Tower is the white-breasted nuthatch, which commonly makes its
    fur- and bark-lined nest in the cavity of a tree. Many a woodland
    hiker has paused for several minutes to watch this inquisitive,
    sparrow-sized bird creep head first down the trunk of a tree,
    stopping now and then to look out at a 90 degree angle. The
    red-breasted nuthatch also inhabits the park.]

    [Illustration: The intense sky-blue of the male mountain bluebird
    catches the eye of the most casual of birdwatchers. Its blue breast
    distinguishes it from the western bluebird. Like the white-breasted
    nuthatch, this bird nests in a tree cavity, usually a deserted
    woodpecker hole. It often hovers low over the ground, then darts
    down to catch insects.]

  Though small in area, Devils Tower National Monument provides a
  sanctuary for an extensive variety of birds. Because the mountains and
  the plains converge here, species common to both can be found. More
  than 90 species have been counted.

  Several large birds may be seen flying around or near the Tower
  itself, occasionally swooping down to prey upon life in the open
  grasslands. These include Cooper’s and red-tailed hawks; American
  kestrel; golden and bald eagles; prairie falcon, and turkey vulture.
  Only the prairie falcon and the rock dove, or pigeon, live on the
  Tower. (See pages 60-61 for photographs of the golden eagle, prairie
  falcon, and burrowing owl.)

    [Illustration: Standing still or in flight, the black-billed magpie
    is distinguished by its white shoulders and belly, by white patches
    under its wings, and by its long tail.]

    [Illustration: The nighthawk nests in the open grasslands here. This
    robin-sized bird was mistaken for a hawk by the pioneers because of
    its long wings and swift flight.]

    [Illustration: The red-headed woodpecker spends most of its time in
    the open deciduous woods. Its entirely red head and a large white
    patch on its wings distinguish it from other species.]

The meadow across the river is a solid yellow of blooming spurge. In
contrast, the ground on the Monument side of the river presents only a
few isolated plants, and they are limp and pale from the effects of
herbicide. Because spurge is an exotic plant that invades grasslands and
displaces native flora, it is exterminated, through selective
application of herbicide, within the Monument boundaries.

The rattle of a kingfisher precedes its sudden appearance around the
sharp bend in the river. Skimming low across the water, the blue and
white bird darts upward to perch on a cottonwood snag that overhangs the
river. Its large crest and straight bill make the kingfisher look more
caricature than real. Intently studying the river below, it need not
wait long before plummeting from its observation post straight into the
water. Reappearing a second later, it quickly regains its perch, the
silver glint of a small fish caught in the parted scissors of its black
bill. After swallowing the fish with a toss of its head, it shakes the
water from its feathers and resumes its patient inspection.

Like a giant, soundless mosquito, a cranefly rises upward from the river
bank. Another hovers low across the surface of the water, frequently
dipping its abdomen below the surface to deposit its eggs. The first
quickly disappears with the banking flight of a nighthawk; the second
with the darting intercept of a dragonfly. Like countless other species
of insects that divide their lives between the water and land, the
craneflies are a living link in the food chain that helps bind the
aquatic and terrestrial life communities together.

The many thousands of insect species requiring an underwater environment
for their larval stage help sustain many species of terrestrial
predators when the insects emerge from the water as adults. The
kingfisher that nests here and the occasional great blue heron that
stops during migration also enjoy the fruits of the water community,
taking fish and frogs. But the process is not a one-way street.
Nutrients leached from the land help fertilize the aquatic food chain.
And the grasshopper that inadvertently hops into the river, only to
disappear quickly into the gullet of a fish, represents another of the
ongoing exchanges between land and water.

As I round the sharp bend that sends the river flowing north again, a
muskrat hurries into the water and submerges. On the steep bank high
above the river, I wait until it surfaces in midstream. It floats lazily
for a while, its long, naked tail straight with the slow current. Then
it heads back toward shore. Across the river, the floodplain cottonwoods
bear the scars of beaver teeth. Some are girdled and dead. Others are in
full leaf despite deep but incomplete incisions.

Growing dusk fills the river valley. In the failing sunlight vanquished
to a thin, vertical display on the Tower face, it is almost possible to
imagine what this splendid landscape must have been like as wilderness.
Bison, not cattle, would have grazed nearby. Instead of the howling dog
that has escaped the campground and races into the prairie dog town, a
wolf might be pressing home its attack on an injured pronghorn.
Grizzlies and cougars knew this valley, and the river was tamed not by a
nearby reservoir but by a latticework of beaver dams.

There are no prairie dogs left above ground now to challenge my trespass
as I head back toward the welcome firelights of the campground. The deer
have left their daybeds to graze in the open, and the great horned owl
again asserts its dominance in the river timber. With a long rattle,
briefly echoed from a cliff, the kingfisher quits the day.

Beneath the expanding population of stars, I return to the comfort of
hot coffee and the confines of my own world. For now, I am content with
the memory of eagle and falcon. In my mind they will continue to soar,
inspecting the splendid terrain my memory today acquired.

                   Prairie Dogs: A Tight-Knit Society

    [Illustration: _A prairie dog family gathers at the entrance to
    their burrow, watching the activity in the town and keeping an eye
    out for intruders._]

When the long grip of winter’s crusted snow relaxes, pasqueflowers burst
forth in ravines, unplowed pastures, and abandoned cemeteries. Their
delicate silvery purple contrasts with the bleak stubble of last year’s
ruined grasses. Before plows ever broke the grassland sod, pasqueflowers
were so profuse the distant ground seemed veiled in haze. The pioneers
called it “prairie smoke.”

With the appearance of the pasqueflowers, spring begins to renew the
sun-warmed ground. Gone are the long days of waiting. Perhaps, the few
prairie-dog sentinels that had stood motionless in the March wind wished
that the spring would come. The sharp wind divides the dense fur of
their winter coats while they survey the snow-skiffed ground of their
silent town. They almost appear to regard the sun wistfully, wishing it
strong, the snow gone, and the grass resurgent once again. But at last
the meadowlarks lose their winter-long quiet, and the horned larks now
lift up with extravagance, unhuddling from their long ordeal. Below
ground, in the deep, secure warmth of their nursery chambers, a new
generation of prairie dogs is developing, part of the ancient ritual of
replenishment that spring brings to the Great Plains.

The breeding season of the prairie dog is determined by geographic
location and weather conditions. On the southern plains of Texas it may
be as early as January; on the Canadian plains as late as March. For
four or five weeks there is much kissing, grooming, and investigation.
Males become aggressive and squabble over territory. Besides the older
females, perhaps half of the yearling females will mate.

After a month’s gestation, the litters are born. In the dark quiet of
specially prepared nesting chambers, the babies appear, hairless,
sightless, uncoordinated, weighing but 14 grams (0.5 ounce). They live
in grass-lined nests for seven or eight weeks, attended almost
constantly by the females as they develop. Growth is rapid. At 28 days
they are crawling, and by 32 days the finely furred pups can walk and
bark. Soon their eyes open and they fully resemble the adults. Until now
the pups have known only darkness, blind passageways, and a single
adult. One day soon they will be led upward.

That first moment above ground marks for them another birth. Now their
senses experience a sudden flood of light and sound, coolness, wind, a
world of shape, motion, and perspective, whose staggering brightness
extends forever beyond their own rim of familiar scent. Huddled together
and shivering in the wind, they are at first loath to accept this world
of sight and sun, so different from the soundless wrappings of dark,
warm soil. But soon, as with all young animals, curiosity leads them to
investigation and then to boldness.

    [Illustration: _The range of the prairie dog extends from Canada to
    Mexico and at its widest point from eastern Kansas to western Utah,
    with the blacktail’s range a bit more extensive than that of the
    whitetail. The range of the rare black-footed ferret, a predator, is
    nearly identical. The prairie dogs protected at Devils Tower are

Each day the young spend more time above ground. Nearby, the mother
remains alert for danger and solicitous, accepting the maulings of her
playful and increasingly independent pups. Although ranging farther and
farther afield, they remain obedient to their mother, and scamper back
to their burrow when commanded. The first few weeks above ground is a
time of weaning, learning, and conditioning.

During their first few days in society, pups have the run of the town.
Boundaries that adults respect do not exist for them, as they wander
about, inspecting every feature of their new world. The young have an
insatiable need for body contact and much time is spent at play, and in
grooming and kissing, activities that seem to reinforce the social
nature of the prairie dogs. Adult males tolerate the young for a time
during this period of general acquaintance. At first the pups attempt to
nurse from any adult they encounter, and these misguided attempts are
not rebuked, even by the males; they are turned into grooming sessions.

Life on this greening land seems too good to be true. Entertainment is
everywhere. Grasshopper nymphs, which the adult prairie dogs
occasionally capture and consume unceremoniously, provide them with
hours of chase and stalk. Food is everywhere and easy to obtain.
Imitating their elders, the pups sample the wide array of grasses and
forbs surrounding every burrow.

Like the young of all the other animals they see, the pups have no way
of realizing that their debut coincides with the season most favorable
to their survival. So they scamper about in witless abandon, uncautious
and innocent, ignorant as yet of the harsher outlines of their world.
For a time, their place in the community is as idyllic as the
soft-winded afternoons of spring. But on the Great Plains, spring is at
best an uncertain season, its lifespan often breathtakingly short. As
the days pass, the dominant males that patrol their territories rapidly
lose patience with neighboring pups. Those that stray outside the
invisible boundaries of their clan’s living-space are now met with
annoyance. Soon the displeasure turns to snarls and bites. More and
more, their own mothers refuse them milk. Nipples bleeding from the
constant pesterings of their young, the mothers finally move out
altogether, to establish new burrows of their own.

To survive predatory perils, the new generation of prairie dogs, like
countless previous ones, must master a two-pronged defense system
evolved over millions of years. First, the pups must learn to engineer a
burrow system with alternate escape routes. Second, they must learn to
live in a highly organized social order, heeding its signals and
respecting its boundaries.

Prairie dogs are divided into two general classes, the blacktailed and
the whitetailed. Blacktails inhabit the semi-arid regions of the Great
Plains; whitetails live in the higher elevations of mountain parks and
foothills. But it’s difficult to generalize, for Devils Tower and Wind
Cave National Park, in South Dakota, are in the Black Hills and the
prairie dogs at both are blacktails. The dog town at Devils Tower
occupies a level grassland bench between the Tower’s base and the nearby
meandering Belle Fourche River. Blacktails are protected in their more
typical arid topography at two other National Park System areas:
Badlands National Park in South Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National
Park in North Dakota.

Generally, as a result of dissimilar habitats, the two species exhibit
slightly different patterns of behavior. Unlike the blacktails, which
emerge to forage on sunny winter days, whitetails are confined to their
burrows by deep mountain snows. Those at high elevations must hibernate
to survive the long winter.

The whitetail community is a much less highly developed social structure
than the blacktail community. The animals are unable to enjoy the luxury
of long summers. In the short season they must spend a great amount of
time feeding to store up body fat for winter. They have little time for
social rituals—grooming, greeting, or play. Time does not allow them to
establish and maintain territories.

The burrow is to the prairie dog what speed and endurance is to the
pronghorn: its chief means of protection. Yet it is more than just a
hole in the ground, a temporary refuge from the threat of danger. More
than half of a prairie dog’s life is spent below ground, so the burrow
must accommodate a wide range of needs (See pages 56-57.).

Often old burrow systems are abandoned and new tunnels excavated. The
debris from the new tunnel system is dumped into the old burrows. These
plugged burrows, called cores, may, in time, be more extensive than
active tunnels in a long-occupied town. Whether knowingly or
unknowingly, the prairie dog, by plugging unused passages, is practicing
sound engineering; if all excavated material were brought to the
surface, the weakened sub-surface, riddled with tunnels, would begin to
settle and the burrows would eventually collapse.

As with the beaver—the only North American mammal whose engineering
feats surpass the prairie dog’s—it is often difficult to distinguish
instinctive behavior from actual problem solving. Burrow systems vary
from individual to individual and with local topography. However, as
early attempts to “drown out” prairie dogs soon proved, the overall
design of their burrow networks minimizes the dangers of flooding. While
the lower angle of the tunnel may fill with water, the portion of the
burrow that culminates in the sealed escape hole serves as an air bell,
preventing a further rise of water and protecting the animal from being
flooded out of its sanctuary during periods of heavy rain. Not realizing
that prairie dogs can live without water—as can many other plains
mammals that manufacture metabolic water from foods they eat—instigators
of attempts to drown out the animals concluded that the animals dug down
to ground water. The myth of the “town well” persisted until well
diggers discovered that the water table in most townsites was hundreds
of meters down.

More than once their burrows have saved them from talon and teeth, and
they take care to maintain the mounds surrounding the entrances to their
tunnels. These structures serve not only as watch-towers, but also as
dikes against downpours that may temporarily turn a town into a lake.

But even instinctive digging habits and well engineered burrows, by
themselves, would not have permitted prairie dogs to achieve their once
staggering population levels—estimated to have been about 25 _billion_
individuals. Only through the additional benefits of some form of social
organization and an effective means of communication could such success
have been attained.

                                                   _continues on page 58_

                     Togetherness—Prairie Dog Style

    [Illustration: Prairie dogs.]

    [Illustration: A prairie dog sounds the alarm, alerting the whole
    town about an impending danger, such as a coyote, a ferret, or a
    person. The rest take up the call, and as the danger approaches each
    burrow the inhabitants duck underground. The others continue to
    stand erect and sound the warning. By listening carefully, those
    underground can track the location of the enemy. When two
    high-pitched notes are sounded, all rush for cover, for that means a
    hawk is overhead or nearby and there’s no time to wait and repeat
    the signal. After the danger has disappeared, a dog sounds a melodic
    whistle, and a few others repeat the all-clear before the usual
    activities of grooming, breeding, eating, and burrow building are
    resumed. Blacktails make at least seven other calls, but they mostly
    concern matters of interest to the coterie, or family, instead of to
    the whole town.]

    [Illustration: After spending a little more than a month below
    ground, newborn pups warily venture into the daylight, closely
    watched by their mother. They soon lose their timidness, venturing
    farther and farther from the burrow but remaining obedient to
    mother’s commands. Most of the first few weeks on the surface are
    spent mauling, kissing, or grooming each other and their parents. As
    the weeks go by, the adults tolerate less play and the pups learn
    more and more day-to-day survival responsibilities.]

    [Illustration: A prairie dog eats a blade of grass sitting on its
    haunches. After falling over a few times, pups soon learn this
    dining posture. The dogs eat various grasses and forbs, though for
    different periods they tend to ignore some plants in favor of
    others. However, they usually clip off all vegetation around their
    burrows even if they don’t eat it. This habitual grass-cutting
    apparently is defensive, for predators can conceal themselves better
    in tall grasses. That is why you don’t see prairie dogs in lush
    grasslands where there is a bountiful rainfall. They satisfy most of
    their needs for water with the juices of green plants and grass

    Prairie dogs also eat insects that inhabit their towns and sometimes
    prey upon the eggs or young of animals, such as the burrowing owl,
    that dwell in homes deserted by prairie dogs.]

                          Burrowing Out a Home

    [Illustration: Prairie dog]

    [Illustration: Viewed in a cross-section, a typical prairie dog
    burrow system reveals a network of tunnels and compartments. The
    slightly oval entrance, 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches) in
    diameter, leads the prairie dog rapidly downward. This plunge hole
    soon tapers off into a more gentle slope that may descend another
    4.5 meters (15 feet). The burrow then turns upward and approaches
    the surface about 9 meters (30 feet) from the entrance hole. In an
    emergency this safety hatch can be quickly opened and the prairie
    dog can escape entrapment. Every burrow contains several rooms to
    accommodate various needs. The first room the prairie dog encounters
    as it travels down the plunge hole is known as the antechamber.
    which is large enough for two animals. It functions as a
    turn-around, permitting entering and exiting animals to pass one
    another. But primarily it is used as a listening post. Before
    venturing out in the morning, a prairie dog pauses here, on the
    alert for possible danger. From this room it can monitor the
    situation by listening to alarm calls of neighbors still above
    ground. The nesting chamber may be found most anywhere in the
    burrow, but usually it is associated with the main passageway above
    the lowest point, to protect it from flooding. Lined with grasses
    and other soft plant fibers, the nest affords a degree of comfort
    and insulation against cold and dampness. Perhaps because of
    accumulating litter or parasites, such as lice and fleas, the
    location of the nest chamber is often changed.]

  Safety hatch
  Plunge hole
  Listening post and turning bay
  Nesting chamber

    [Illustration: Blacktail prairie dogs build hard-packed ridges
    around their burrow openings as watchtowers and as dikes against
    downpours. A prairie dog uses various skills in this work,
    including, above, scraping dirt with its powerful hind legs.]

    [Illustration: Mound-building also calls for bulldozing earth with
    the prairie dog’s hard, blunt nose. Both excavated subsoil and
    topsoil are pushed around to build up the mound. Whitetails tend to
    merely leave an unworked pile of subsoil around the entrance.]

    [Illustration: After tamping the freshly loosened earth with its
    nose, above, and at other times in the whole process, the prairie
    dog takes a break and cleans its long claws, page 56, and its nose.]

Gregariousness is a common trait of many plains animals. In a land where
movement is necessary and concealment difficult to achieve, it provides
a definite survival advantage. Bison calves find protection in the herd,
where their defense is the concern of all adults. Pronghorns take turns
as sentries, allowing the other members of the group to rest and feed.
Coyotes are more effective when hunting in pairs. The success of the
wolf in bringing down large prey and even evicting grizzlies from their
kills was largely due to their family group or pack organization. But
lacking physical adaptations for speed and mobility, prairie dogs are
forced to rely on their burrows for refuge. The need to remain close to
their burrows imposes on the animals a serious problem: how to maintain
an adequate food supply?

Although a dog town might appear to be one big collection of
affectionate family members, all coming and going at will, the
impression is false. Instead, each town is divided up into small groups
of related animals. These family groups, called coteries, are the basic
social unit, much as human families are in our own society. As the
prairie dog pups soon learn, each coterie defends its own territory from
intrusion by others, thus preserving for itself necessary living space
and an adequate food supply close to the safety of its own burrows. Only
in times of dire emergency, when the scramble to safety supersedes all
territorial claims, will prairie dogs allow other coterie members the
use of their burrows. So strong is an offending animal’s sense of
trespass, it will often brave the hazard of dashing back to its own
burrow rather than staying long in a neighbor’s territory.

The typical coterie consists of about seven to eight animals, arranged
in a hierarchical order. Each usually has a dominant male that protects
the coterie’s territory from invasion by other males and oversees the
activities of the females and young. If the coterie is a large one, more
than one individual may enjoy dominant status and share the duties of
leadership. In some cases, females may be dominant in rank; the role
generally falls to the males, however, possibly because of their
slightly larger size or because they have more time to observe and
patrol, not being tied to the demands of the young.

Not only their social organization, but also their social behavior makes
prairie dogs unique among rodents. The function of coterie hierarchy is
cooperative, rather than oppressive, resulting in a remarkable absence
of conflict and social stress. Aggressiveness is generally limited to
inter-coterie contacts along the invisible boundaries. In an established
town, infractions are usually accidental and seldom precipitate lasting
disputes. The end result of intra-coterie cooperation and inter-coterie
respect is a stable and harmonious town. Energies and attention that
would otherwise be squandered in conflict can thus be focused on mutual

For brief periods during spring and fall, the strict laws of
territoriality are relaxed. In spring, the period coincides with the
appearance of pups. Not only does this prevent undue strife in the
community over the wanderings of the socially ignorant pups; it also
allows those females seeking new territories to cross established ones.
In the fall, the period is also necessary, accommodating the dispersal
of overcrowded family groups. During autumn, the urge to emigrate is
strong, and many animals move out into the “suburbs” of the town. Thus
the town maintains a degree of flexibility and avoids permanent pockets
of overpopulation.

Coterie members maintain mutual recognition through an often-repeated
ritual involving mouth contact. Prairie dogs that appear to be “kissing”
or “talking” are simply establishing identities. Generally the most
dominant member will initiate mouth contact, approaching the second
animal with head tilted back and presenting its open mouth, to which the
other responds in like manner. Often the recognition ceremony is
accompanied by tail wagging and frequently leads to another form of
social reinforcement, the process of grooming. Generally, the prairie
dog that initiates the mouth contact does the grooming, nibbling, and
combing the fur in an effort to dislodge dirt and parasites. The act is
more significant for its symbolic value, however, for the animal of
lower rank will often completely roll over on its back during the
process; by exposing its vulnerable undersides, it is submitting, canine
fashion, to the dominance of its fellow. Pups that annoy adult males
with their attentions are often rather roughly groomed. No doubt the
procedure communicates authority as well as affection.

                                                   _continues on page 62_

               Dog Town Predators and Fellow Inhabitants

    [Illustration: A shadow races across a prairie dog town, stirring up
    a sudden panic of alarms and dashes to safety. A shriek stills the
    community. Overhead, the squeals of an unwary pup rapidly diminish
    as it is carried off in a clutch of gleaming talons of a golden
    eagle, above, to a nest of hungry eaglets, below.]

    [Illustration: Nest of hungry eaglets.]

  Many pups and some adults are lost to predators. While small, prairie
  dogs are fair game for rattlesnakes and burrowing owls. Hawks, like
  the eagles, ambush pups from the sky. Patrolling coyotes are quick to
  sense the pups’ hesitation and to capitalize on the uncertainty.
  Badgers excavate with astounding speed; bobcats rush from concealment
  of any nearby cover. And in some places the most dreaded predator of
  all is the black-footed ferret, which enters the burrow itself to
  surprise and trap its prey. But eradication programs against the
  prairie dog have made the ferret nearly extinct; none has been seen at
  Devils Tower since the late 1800s. Some of the other predators of the
  prairie dog also have been nearly eliminated by man. And with the loss
  of natural predators, prairie dog populations flourish rapidly. Unless
  these predators are allowed to make a comeback, prairie dog control
  programs will be inevitable.

    [Illustration: The black-footed ferret, a large weasel, makes its
    home in prairie dog towns, but it is extremely rare.]

    [Illustration: The coyote frequently prowls prairie dog towns in the
    early morning and evening.]

    [Illustration: The bullsnake hangs around burrows to prey on pups
    and other small rodents, killing them by constriction.]

    [Illustration: The prairie falcon nests on the Tower and
    occasionally feeds on residents of the prairie dog town.]

    [Illustration: The burrowing owl often nests in old burrows and
    sometimes preys on pups. Prairie dogs eat owl eggs and young.]

    [Illustration: The badger is short, broad, and a formidable digger.
    It concentrates its preying on new, one-entrance burrows.]

Should the individual invited to mouth contact not reciprocate, an
immediate challenge is made. Apparently, mouth contact is the only
positive means of identification available to prairie dogs, and any
animal refusing it is immediately deemed a trespasser and aggressively
evicted. The wild chase that ensues, accompanied by indignant calling
and fierce chattering of teeth, sometimes leads the righteous landowner
deep inside its neighbor’s territory. The roles abruptly reverse and,
after a moment of mutual realization, the pursuer suddenly becomes the

In the glare of the early evening sun it is difficult to distinguish the
individual prairie dogs as they go about their various activities. A
single warning call, however, and the town instantly sprouts battalions
of erect postures. For a moment, each motionless, backlit figure shines
its sun-haloed position. All the disparate activities of the scattered
animals become instantaneously fused to a single purpose: identifying
the danger.

Vocalizations distinguish the prairie dog from all other rodents. At
least ten different calls have been identified in the blacktail class of
prairie dogs. Most of the calls—such as the challenge bark, defense
bark, disputing “_churr_,” fighting snarl, fear scream, muffled bark,
and tooth chattering—do not involve the entire community. Except for the
fear scream, which is immediately noted by all members, these vocal
signals are largely ignored by neighboring animals since they usually
denote a local disturbance among the prairie dogs themselves. There are
three warning calls, however, that are intended for the entire
community; these constitute the bond that unites all the separate
coteries of the town into a single social unit.

At the sound of the _warning bark_, usually uttered by many animals at
once and quickly relayed through the entire town, each prairie dog
immediately rises to alert in an attempt to define the immediate danger.
If the wave of alarms is particularly intense, the animals usually rush
to burrow mounds, where they will await further developments. Usually
only the prairie dogs in the immediate vicinity of an enemy will retire
below ground. The remainder of the population continues to observe and
sound the alarm. As an enemy approaches a particular burrow, the
frequency and intensity of the occupant’s warning bark increases. Only
at the last moment will the prairie dog cut short its tirade, capping it
with an indignant _churk_ as it dives below ground.

Another, more urgent, signal is the _hawk warning call_. The
high-pitched, musical twin notes of this cry prompt an immediate dash
for cover. Unlike the typical reaction to the warning bark, response to
the hawk warning call is unhesitating. When this cry is given, seconds
count, and visual confirmation of danger is not required to prompt a
rush to safety.

After danger has passed, the all-clear is sounded. Known as the _song
bark_, this melodic whistle is always associated with a particular body
posture. Rising up on its haunches, the prairie dog points its nose to
the sky, gives the whistle, and promptly falls back on all fours. When
learning to execute this call, pups usually topple over backwards. Once
uttered, the call is repeated sporadically throughout the town.

Communication is as important to the survival of the prairie dog society
as is adequate food and shelter. Towns decimated by disease or poisoning
soon vanish if the survivors are too few or scattered to communicate
effectively. Deprived of an efficient warning system (and perhaps of the
psychological need of social contact, as well), individual animals make
easy targets for predators. Certainly they are too large and conspicuous
to blend in well with their sparse surroundings. Unlike their small,
well-camouflaged cousins, the thirteen-lined ground squirrels, prairie
dogs cannot survive as individuals.

After the females leave their weaned pups to establish new burrows for
themselves, the young will remain together for a while until they, too,
begin to split up. No longer do they resemble the playful, romping pups
of spring, annoying their elders with their ceaseless games, demands for
attention, and disregard for territorial boundaries. Now full-fledged
members of their clans, they capture grasshoppers in a business-like
fashion. Like the season, they have matured. With the company of their
elders they now share a suspicion of the sky and every uninspected plot
of ground.

                      Lessons a Long Time Learning

In the early days of the cattle range, before sound land management of
the plains was understood, cattlemen were perplexed to witness
mushrooming populations of prairie dogs. Formerly lush grassland often
became a dog town “wasteland” following the introduction of cattle.
Believing that the prairie dog, and not the cattle, was responsible for
this sudden transformation, ranchers rapidly came to despise prairie
dogs. A massive war of extermination began against these “varmits” that
“ate the grass down to nothing.” In reality, the appearance of prairie
dogs merely indicated that the land was being overgrazed. As the bison
had done before them, cattle now began to open up to the prairie dogs
new territories that they could not otherwise colonize. Prairie dogs
were never found on the eastern prairies simply because they could not
contend with the taller growth of the more humid grasslands.

On their own, prairie dogs cannot easily invade unbroken areas of
established grassland. The grass cover simply rejuvenates faster than
the animals can work. But if the land has been disturbed by overgrazing,
prairie dogs can quickly spread. Once established in an area, the
animals wage a constant struggle against the vegetation. Since
tall-growing plants offer concealment to a predator, the plants are
routinely clipped off even if they are not to be eaten.

The feeding, clearing, and burrowing activities of the dog town tend to
retard the grasses while encouraging the persistence of forbs—the
broadleaf plants that quickly invade disturbed ground but are eventually
crowded out by the returning grasses. By arresting the normal process of
plant succession, an active dog town delays the return of the site to
its climax vegetation of grasses. In so doing, it inadvertently
perpetuates a wider variety of plants than would otherwise be found on
the site.

Selective feeders, prairie dogs put pressure on a particular plant
species when it becomes most abundant, then ignore it almost entirely in
favor of another, and so on. This cyclic feeding allows each species to
recover, preventing it from being eliminated.

Dry years help the prairie dog maintain control over the vegetation, and
thus favor town expansion, while wet years speed recovery of the grasses
and work against the town. Towns that had spread into lush grassland
during the favorable conditions of drought may be severely reduced or
even eliminated with the return of adequate precipitation.

In some cases, the clearing activities of prairie dogs may actually
speed plant succession. As a direct result of overgrazing by domestic
stock, much of the grassland of the semi-arid West was invaded by
sagebrush, a tough, drought-resistant plant that tends to perpetuate
itself indefinitely once introduced. By cutting down the sage, prairie
dogs eliminate it from the plant community and open the land to grasses.

In its struggle for control of territory, the prairie dog was aided by
the bison. The vast herds that moved across the landscape like a black
plague of giant locusts left choice tracts of the grasslands devastated
in their wake. The effects of such a physical force are difficult for us
to comprehend today. Migrating northward in huge columns that sometimes
measured 80 kilometers (50 miles) across, the bison cropped and trampled
the greening spring grasses. Surely when the bison and the prairie dog
were finally replaced by cattle, the grasslands, free at last from such
punishment, would flourish. But no, instead the grasses languished. How
could this be so?

Nature is always more complex than our perception of it. For countless
centuries the Great Plains had survived its many moods of drought, dust
storm, and wildfire, its scattered plagues of bison and grasshopper.
Nature knows no “varmits,” and change is not catastrophe, but
opportunity. But to the settler who shot hawks, owls, and eagles to
protect his calves, poultry, and children, the lesson was a long time

Ironically, the grasslands needed the periodic despoilment of bison and
burrow. When the bison herd moved on, it left behind tons of fertilizer,
key to the area’s future rejuvenation. But the millions of hoofs also
left the ground compacted. Were it not for the ceaseless activities of
countless burrowing animals, including the industrious prairie dogs,
loosening the soil and undoing the damage, the bison would have
eventually destroyed much of their range.

For an animal so successfully adapted to life on the unrelieved expanses
of the open plains, it is ironic that today prairie dogs survive in
isolated colonies at the very margins of its desirable habitat.

                         3    Guide and Adviser

                              Regional Map

                     [Illustration: National Parks]

    [Illustration: _The map comes from the “Guide and Map, National
    Parks of the United States,” a brochure that may be purchased from
    the U. S. Government Printing Office. For information on roads
    leading to Devils Tower, see the next page._]

                           Visiting the Park


On the fringe of the Black Hills in northeastern Wyoming, northwest of
Sundance, northeast of Moorcroft, and southwest of Hulett.


545 hectares (1,347 acres).


The park is about 1,290 meters (4,250 feet) above sea level. The Tower
rises another 264 meters (867 feet) to the top.


Summer temperatures cover a wide range from daily highs of 29°C (83°F)
to lows of 10°C (50°F). Winter temperatures plunge below freezing for
long periods of time. Spring arrives usually sometime in April, but the
temperature drops quickly at night and stays cold during the day if it’s
cloudy. About the end of September, fall begins, and with it the golden
color of changing cottonwood leaves along the Belle Fourche River.

                          Best times to visit

Spring is short in the Rocky Mountain West and can be a time of violent
shifts in weather: summerlike days alternating with cold, always the
possibility of late heavy snowfalls, and no inbetweens. These extremes
seem to be tempered somewhat at Devils Tower, and the fun of watching
deer can more than make up for any inconvenience due to the weather.
Whitetail deer, followed by their spotted fawns, are rubbing off winter
coats. They seem to be browsing the park hungrily everywhere you look.

Summer heat, because of elevation and dry air, radiates quickly but
never becomes stifling. Winds are strong and steady and there is always
a danger of exposure for those unprepared for sudden thunder and
lightning storms, or for the sudden cooling after sunset. Most visits to
Devils Tower are made in the summer when the surrounding rangelands are
green and the sparkling watercourses invite refreshment under shade of

Early fall, just as the range begins to brown, is perhaps a perfect time
to be at Devils Tower. The park is uncrowded after Labor Day. Protected
meadows are still green. Animals are in their prime and ready for the
rigors of winter. The faint odor of decaying vegetation and the
foretaste of winter on a particularly bracing chill wind—these are the
pleasures of a long Wyoming fall.

Winter brings an air of enforced isolation to Devils Tower. Heavy snows
and frequent blizzard conditions on the highways discourage most
travelers. A rare treat awaits those who do come here in winter,
however. Bald eagles migrate down from the north. You might see them
wheeling in pairs over an otherwise frozen landscape, or making a feast
of carrion on the ground.


Highways—From Rapid City, S. Dak., take I-90 west to Sundance. Wyo.;
then U.S. 14 to Devils Tower Junction; then Wyo. 24 to park. From
Gillette, Wyo., take I-90 east to Moorcroft, then U.S. 14 to Wyo. 24.
From Newcastle, Wyo. take U.S. 16 to Moorcroft. From Belle Fourche, S.
Dak., take S. Dak. 34 to Wyoming line, then Wyo. 24 via Hulett to park.
Buses—Nearest regularly scheduled buses serve Moorcroft; no service to
park. Railroads—Nearest rail passenger service is in Cheyenne.
Airport—Rapid City Airport is served by a few commercial airlines. Cars
may be rented.

                             Visitor Center

For a general introduction to Devils Tower, the visitor center has
exhibits, an audio/visual program, trail guides and plant and animal
checklists, a publications sales outlet, and an information counter with
a ranger on duty to answer questions. This is also the place where
climbers must register to climb Devils Tower. The visitor center is open
from about May 1 to October 31. In winter information requests are
answered in the headquarters administration building.


The park has one campground for which a campsite fee is charged from
about May 20 through September 10. Opening and closing dates depend on
weather conditions. It has about 50 camping sites which will accommodate
both tent and trailer camping equipment. A water tap, restrooms, fire
grills, and picnic tables are provided, but there are no utility
hook-ups for trailers. Campsites are taken on a first-come, first-served
basis. After September 10, or later at the first sign of freezing, the
water is shut off and the road is not snowplowed. Winter camping is
allowed, however.

                          Scheduled Activities

The featured program at Devils Tower is presented every evening during
the visitor season in the campground amphitheater. The story of the
nation’s first national monument is told with projected slide
photographs by a park ranger who embellishes the story with colorful
anecdotes about rangering experiences.


Even if you have only time for a half-day visit to Devils Tower, it’s
time enough for a hike around the tower. Tower Trail is only 2
kilometers (1.25 miles) long and traverses fairly level ground. It stays
in forest shade while it skirts the jumbled mass of boulders lying at
the base of the Tower. It is the only trail in the park with formal
wayside markers and benches where you can stop and look at the Tower
from close up.

The park has three other designated hiking trails, all of them longer
than Tower Trail and generally uncrowded. Devils Tower is never out of
sight for long though, so it’s not easy to get lost. The longer trails
offer a chance to see different plant and animal environments; open
meadows, prairie dog towns, bluffs overlooking the Belle Fourche River,
the riverside habitat itself, as well as the pine forest, all of which
are described in Part 2 of this handbook.

                          Other accommodations

Motels, trailer courts, camping supply stores, and service stations are
in the nearby town of Hulett. Just outside the park boundary is a post
office, general store, and commercial campground with a few extra
recreational offerings.

                         Establishment of park

Proclaimed September 24, 1906. Boundary changes, August 9, 1955.

                            Mailing address

Devils Tower, Wyoming 82714.

                            Park Regulations

                            Natural Features

It is unlawful to disturb, injure, destroy, or remove any vegetation or
rocks. This basic rule is made not only to protect the natural resources
but out of consideration for others who will be here in the future.


Do not feed the prairie dogs or let them get close to you; they carry
fleas and they can bite you. Do not chase, harass, attempt to catch, or
feed any park animals. Rattlesnakes usually don’t strike unless provoked
or mistreated. Watch out for them! Hunting is not permitted in the park.
If firearms and other weapons are carried, they must be unloaded and
cased so as to prevent their use.


All pets must be kept in vehicles, or caged or leashed when in the park.
They are not permitted in public buildings.


Drive carefully to protect yourself, others, and wildlife. Do not
obstruct traffic by stopping on the road; pull over and let other
vehicles pass. Driving off roadways is prohibited. Park on road
shoulders or at parking areas only.


Camp only at the campground. Dump wastes and wash water in special sinks
at the restrooms, not on the ground. Littering is both irresponsible and
unlawful. Trash cans are provided at convenient places throughout the
park; please use them.

                            Fire Prevention

Fires are permitted only in the fireplaces found in the campground and
must not be left unattended. Thoroughly drown all campfires with water
after use.

                           Climbing the Tower

All climbers must register by name, address, and telephone number with a
park ranger before going up.

And you must check out when you return. This is the only safety
precaution on climbing required by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
Depending on your mountain climbing experience here and elsewhere,
however, you might want to ask the rangers for safety hints, different
climbing routes, and conditions on the face of the Tower at the time of
your climb.

More than 80 separate routes to the top have been taken and described in
the literature. No one has been killed climbing the Tower, a remarkable
record. The most difficult pitches come first while there is still
plenty of time to turn back or take an easier route. Also, compared to
other mountains, Devils Tower can be conquered in a short time, less
than an hour for the most skilled if they use an easy route. This means
less chance of exhaustion from exposure. In sudden bad weather, one can
easily rappel off in 40 to 60 minutes.

    [Illustration: _George Willig, in red shirt, and Steve Matous
    prepare to climb Devils Tower in 1979._]

    [Illustration: _Their climb was witnessed by a national audience on
    a televised all-day sport show and by a large crowd in the park
    using telescopes and binoculars._]

Records of climbs have been kept at the park since 1937. In 1963 the one
thousandth climber checked in and in 1970 the two thousandth. Since 1977
more than 1,000 make the climb every year. The Tower has been climbed
with the direct aid of ropes and pitons and with a technique known as
“free climbing” without the use of ropes except as backup to catch a
fall. It has been climbed from all sides and in all seasons, even on
Christmas Day and on New Year’s Day. Some people, of course, prefer to
climb the Tower in snow and ice. One might conclude that all the
“firsts” have been taken at Devils Tower, but, as long as the personal
challenge of the sport continues to attract newcomers, there are certain
to be more new records.

    [Illustration: _From the ground a member of the Willig party looks

    [Illustration: _Up close, another climber ponders his next move._]

August has been the most active climbing month in recent years. The heat
on the south-facing side of the Tower presents serious problems though.
Climbers usually try to start as early as possible before the sun has a
chance to heat the rock blazing hot.

Climbers rightfully take interest in the geology of the Tower. Worming
their fingers into cracks and fissures, depending for their lives on the
ringing-hard igneous mass that supports them, rock climbers develop a
familiarity with various origins and kinds of rock. They, of course,
contribute to the ongoing process of erosion which, over eons of time,
has left Devils Tower in its present form. The amount of loose rock that
breaks off under their feet, however, is far less than the amount lost
every season from frost-heave, the effect of water seeping behind the
surface rock and expanding into ice. The boulder field at the base of
the Tower tells the rest of the erosion story. By studying lichen
growing on the last slab to fall off the side, it has been estimated
that this event occurred more than 10,000 years ago.

                         Nearby National Parks

                    Mount Rushmore National Memorial

is 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Rapid City, South Dakota.
Patriotic ideals representing the birth of the Nation through its entry
into 20th Century world affairs are symbolized in massive stone carvings
of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore
Roosevelt. The scale and difficulty of sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s
achievement perhaps can only be appreciated in person. From June 1 to
Labor Day the faces are illuminated at night and evening programs are
presented in the amphitheater. Mailing address: Keystone, South Dakota

                        Wind Cave National Park

is located on U.S. 385, 16 kilometers (10 miles) north of Hot Springs,
South Dakota. Wind whistling from the entrance attracted attention to
the cave, hence its name. Jesse McDonald developed the cave as a tourist
attraction in 1890. His son, Alvin, explored its passageways and named
many of the fancy formations. Above ground the park preserves a natural
prairie environment and a remnant bison herd, as poignant a scene as you
will find anywhere in the West. Tours of the cave are conducted by park
rangers throughout the year except on December 25 and January 1. A
campground is open from mid-May through mid-September on a first-come,
first-served basis. Mailing address: Hot Springs, South Dakota 57747.

    [Illustration: _Mount Rushmore is one of the most grandiose
    monuments of patriotism in the United States, attracting travelers
    from across the Nation and around the world._]

    [Illustration: _The bison herd at Wind Cave National Park conjures
    up images of days gone by when as many as 60 million of these
    animals roamed a 30-state area between the Rockies and the eastern

                      Jewel Cave National Monument

is located on U.S. 16, 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of Custer, South
Dakota. Glittering arrays of mineral formations—jewel-like calcite
crystals, calcite “popcorn,” crystalline gypsum “flowers”—give this park
its name. On the four levels seemingly endless passageways wind on and
on, and the end is still not in sight. On the surface in the ponderosa
pine forest, you can tell from the dark bark of the young trees why, as
one approaches, the Black Hills appear black. Cave tours are conducted
daily from mid-May through September. The park does not have overnight
accommodations or campgrounds. Mailing address: Custer, South Dakota

    [Illustration: _Calcite crystals glisten and sparkle on the walls of
    Jewel Cave._]

    [Illustration: _East of Rapid City a different light show can be
    enjoyed as sunrises and sunsets heighten the natural colors of the
    eroded rock in Badlands National Park._]

                         Badlands National Park

is 97 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Rapid City, South Dakota.
Badlands generally describes any deeply eroded and weather-beaten
landscape. The play of light and shadow over endless naturally sculpted
shapes and the colors of naked rock give these badlands their special
beauty. In 1976 a major portion of Badlands National Park was designated
wilderness and a new south unit extended the boundaries into the Pine
Ridge Indian Reservation. The park has paleontology exhibits, a program
on the history of the Oglala Sioux, a variety of nature trails, and a
long road system with wayside exhibits at many scenic overlooks. The
park has a herd of about 300 bison and some prairie dog towns. It is
open all year. Mailing address: Interior, South Dakota 57750.

                      Not So Nearby National Parks

A considerable distance from Devils Tower, yet related by geography and
even history, is a band of national parks not to be overlooked.
Yellowstone and Grand Teton in northwestern Wyoming, may, in fact, be
your ultimate destination. The snow-capped peaks of the Bighorn
Mountains in Wyoming, where Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is
located, can be seen from several places along the approach road to
Devils Tower. Custer Battlefield, adjoining the Crow Indian Reservation,
is on the northern route to Yellowstone through Billings, Montana.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park celebrates the man and the ideals of
the American conservation movement which he accelerated by proclaiming
Devils Tower the first national monument.

                       Yellowstone National Park

is on U.S. 89, 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Livingston, Montana.
This first and reigning queen of all national parks, established more
than a century ago, draws travelers as if it were a place of pilgrimage.
Indeed, there is spiritual enchantment beyond measuring in the lively
animation of Yellowstone—its exploding geysers, steaming hot pools, and
dashing waters draining both sides of the continent. Between October 31
and May 1, park roads and entrances, except the North Entrance, are
ordinarily closed by snow. Winter activities include snowmobiling and
cross-country skiing. Campgrounds usually open about June. A host of
park-sponsored and concessioner services are offered. Mailing address:
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.

                       Grand Teton National Park

is located just north of Jackson, Wyoming, on U.S. 187, and 90
kilometers (56 miles) south of Yellowstone via the John D. Rockefeller,
Jr., Memorial Parkway. The Tetons, among the noblest creations in the
American West, are a congregation of blue-gray pyramids soaring above
the sagebrush flats and morainal lakes in Jackson Hole. The valley, a
hunting ground of prehistoric Indians for centuries, became a fur trade
crossroads in the early 19th Century. Geology, wildlife, plains Indian
culture, all share leading roles in the story of this park. Visitor
facilities are open all year, though curtailed somewhat in winter.
Mailing address: Moose, Wyoming 83021.

                  Custer Battlefield National Monument

is on Interstate 90, 24 kilometers (15 miles) south of Hardin, Montana.
On Sunday, June 25, 1876, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and five
companies of the 7th Calvary under his immediate command were surrounded
and killed by Indians. The defeat shocked the nation and still
reverberates with questions about what exactly happened in this clash of
cultures. Memorials spread across the hills soberly tell what little is
known. The park, open all year, has exhibits but no campgrounds. Mailing
address: Crow Agency, Montana 59022.

                Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

straddles the Montana-Wyoming boundary, 67 kilometers (42 miles) from
Hardin, Montana, on the north: and at Lovell, Wyoming, on the south.
Access to boat launching ramps and campgrounds is from either end of the
long narrow reservoir backed up behind Yellowtail Dam on the Bighorn
River, which here flows north. Boating and fishing enthusiasts enjoy a
long season from mid-April to late October. Tours of the dam and
powerhouse are given daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and the
visitor centers are open all year. Mailing address: P.O. Box 458, Fort
Smith, Montana 59035.

    [Illustration: _Jackson Lake sits below Mount Moran. This major peak
    in Grand Teton National Park bears a small permanent glacier._]

    [Illustration: _Another celebrated view is the Lower Falls of the
    Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, in Yellowstone National Park._]

                    Theodore Roosevelt National Park

is on Interstate 94, at Medora, North Dakota. A north unit is 90
kilometers (56 miles) north on US. 85. TR’s Maltese Cross Cabin is in
the south unit, but the park celebrates more than the 26th President’s
energetic protection of public lands. Magnificently colored and worn
badlands lie on both sides of the Little Missouri River interspersed
with grassy ranges where adventurous men, Roosevelt among them,
enterprised in the open-range cattle business. Populations of bighorn
sheep, bison, and antelope, among the large game animals once hunted to
extinction, have been restored. The visiting season is May through
October. The park has campgrounds in both north and south units. Mailing
address: Medora, North Dakota 58645.

                         Armchair Explorations


Allen, Durward L. _The Life of Prairies and Plains._ Our Living World of
Nature series. McGraw-Hill, 1967.

Everhart, William C. _The National Park Service._ Praeger Publishers,

Lamb, Russell, photos by. _Wyoming._ Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co.,

Larson, T. A. _Wyoming—A Bicentennial History._ Norton, 1977.

Robbins, Royal. _Basic Rockcraft._ La Siesta Press, 1971.

Robbins, Royal. _Advanced Rockcraft._ La Siesta Press, 1973.

Tilden, Freeman. _The National Parks._ Alfred A. Knopf, 1978.

Tilden, Freeman. _Interpreting Our Heritage._ University of North
Carolina Press, 1977.

Wetmore, Clifford M. _Lichens of the Black Hills._ Vol. 3, No. 4.
Michigan State University, 1968.

_Wind Cave._ National Park Handbook series, 104. National Park Service,


Cunningham, Robert. _It’s a Dog’s Life._ Theodore Roosevelt Nature and
History Association, n.d.

Horning, Dennis, and Marriott, Hollis. _Free Climbs of Devils Tower._

Mattison, Ray H. _Devils Tower National Monument—A History._ Devils
Tower Natural History Association, 1981.

Robinson, Charles S. _Geology of Devils Tower National Monument,
Wyoming._ Devils Tower Natural History Association, n.d.

Van Bruggen, Theodore. _Wildflowers of the Northern Plains and Black
Hills._ Badlands Natural History Association, 1976.


Numbers in italics refer to photographs, illustrations, or maps.

  Animal life 24, 29, 35, 47, 58, 69, 71;
      photos _31_, _37_, _60_-61.
      _See also_ Birds; Deer; Prairie Dogs
  Antiquities Act of 1906 17

  Badlands National Park 52, _75_
  Badger _61_
  Belle Fourche River 9, 11, 17, _22_-23, 24, 27, 42
  Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area 76-77
  Birds 24, 32, 34, 35, 36, 42-43, 46;
      photos _31_, _44_, _45_, _60_, _61_
  Black Hills 9, 10-11, 29
  Bluebird, mountain _45_
  Bullsnake _61_

  Climbers 12, _14_-15, 16, _30_, 31, _72_, _73_
  Conn, Herb 15
  Conn, Jan _15_
  Coyote _61_
  Custer, George Armstrong 9, 10, 76
  Custer Battlefield National Monument 76

  Deer, whitetail 35, 37, _38_-39
  Devils Tower National Monument 29, 69;
      climbers 12, _14_-15, 16, _30_, 31, _72_, _73_;
      established 12, 17, 71;
      geological origins 11, _25_-27, 35;
      Indian names 10-11, 26;
      photos _6_-7, _17_, _18_;
      size 27, 69;
      tourism 19, 34, 69-71
  Dodge, Richard I. 10-11
  Doves, rock _31_
  Durrance, Jack 15, 16

  Eagle, golden _60_, _61_

  Falcon, prairie 34, _61_
  Ferrett, black-footed _51_, _61_
  Fox _37_

  Geology 11, 25-_27_, 35
  Gopher, pocket _37_
  Grand Teton National Park 76, _77_
  Grasslands 29, _31_, 35, 46, _64_-65

  Hanson, Dennis 31
  Hopkins, George _15_, 16

  Indians 10, 26
  Insects 32-33, 46

  Jackson, William H. 12
  Jewel Cave National Monument 74-_75_
  Joyner, Newell F. _15_

  Magpie, black-billed _45_
  Map _51_, _68_
  Mateo Tepee 10, 11
  Matous, Steve _72_
  Missouri Buttes 26, _27_
  Mondell, Frank W. 17
  Moran, Thomas 12
  Mount Rushmore National Memorial _74_

  National parks _74_-77
  Nighthawk _45_
  Nuthatch, white-breasted _44_, 45

  Owl, screech _13_;
      burrowing, 55, 61

  Porcupine _37_
  Prairie dogs 28, 29, 50-65 _passim_, 71;
      photos _12_, _48_-49, _54_, _55_, _56_, _57_

  Raccoon _37_
  Ripley, Willard 12, 14, 16
  Rogers, William 12, _14_, 16
  Roosevelt, Theodore 17
  Roosevelt National Park, Theodore 52, 77
  Rowell, Galen _30_, 31

  Showacre, Joan _15_
  Squirrel, ground _37_

  Trees _9_, 29, 36, 40, 41

  Warren, Francis E. 12
  Weasel, longtail _37_
  Wiessner, Fritz 15
  Willig, George 16, _72_
  Wind Cave National Park 52, _74_
  Woodpecker, red-headed _45_
  Wyoming 9-10, 11-12

  Yellowstone National Park 76, _77_

  For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
  Office, Washington, DC 20402.

  Stock Number 024-005-00810-1.

  ★GPO: 1981—341-611/2

                         National Park Service

The National Park Service expresses its appreciation to all those
persons who made the preparation and production of this handbook
possible. The Service also gratefully acknowledges the financial support
given this handbook project by the Devils Tower Natural History
Association a nonprofit group that assists interpretive efforts at
Devils Tower National Monument.


Greg Beaumont, who wrote Part 2, is a wildlife photographer and
naturalist who lives in Muscatine, Iowa.


R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. 68.


The prairie dog burrow diagram on page 57 is from the August 1979 issue
of “National Geographic” and is used with the permission of the National
Geographic Society.

Russell Lamb cover, 6-7, and 22-23.

Greg Beaumont 8, 9, 12, 13, 17, 31 top of Tower, 37-39 except raccoon,
44-45, 54-57, 60, and 61 golden eaglets, coyote, bullsnake, prairie
falcon, burrowing owl.

Jaime Quintero 27.

Galen Rowell, Visualeyes Photographic Agency 18, 30, and 31 wood rat,
cactus, doves.

Tom Bean 48-49, and 61 badger.

All other illustrations come from the files of Devils Tower National
Monument and the National Park Service.

                    U.S. Department of the Interior

As the Nation’s principal conservation agency, the Department of the
Interior has responsibility for most of our nationally owned public
lands and natural resources. This includes fostering the wisest use of
our land and water resources, protecting our fish and wildlife,
preserving the environmental and cultural values of our national parks
and historical places, and providing for the enjoyment of these through
outdoor recreation. The Department assesses our energy and mineral
resources to assure that their development is in the best interest of
all our people. The Department also has a major responsibility for
American Indian reservation communities and for people who live in
island territories under U.S. administration.

                          Transcriber’s Notes

—Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

—Relocated all image captions to be immediately under the corresponding
  images, removing references like “preceding page”.

—Silently corrected a few palpable typos.

—In the text versions only, text in italic font is delimited by

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