The place known today as Devils Tower has been a fixture of Wyoming history since before the territory was granted statehood in 1890. Native Americans lived in the Black Hills area, including the Bear Lodge Mountains where the Tower is located. Different tribes had different names for the Tower; a common name for the geologic structure was Mato Tipila, meaning “Bear’s Lodge.” Today, over two dozen tribes claim affiliation with the site, considered sacred by many American Indians.
Francis Warren, one of Wyoming’s first senators, sought to protect the area of Devils Tower and the Little Missouri Buttes in 1892. He succeeded in designating it as a forest reserve to prevent settlement of the area. His plan was to create a new national park, but that plan stalled in Congress. It would take 14 more years, a new law, and other concerned politicians to protect the Tower.
The Antiquities Act of 1906 gave the president authority to declare a national monument. Wyoming representative Frank Mondell lobbied for the creation of Devils Tower National Monument. On September 24, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the proclamation declaring Devils Tower as America’s first national monument.
Ten years later would see the birth of the National Park Service, and sites like Devils Tower came under the management of this new organization. Today, Devils Tower National Monument attracts visitors from the local area and across the world. Over half a million people come every year to stand in awe of nature’s beauty.
Visitors can enjoy the peace and quiet of the forests surrounding the Tower. They can attend ranger-led interpretive programs to help them connect with a place that has fascinated so many for so long. As the National Park Service celebrates its Centennial Anniversary, they invite everyone to find their own park experience – and what better place than our first national monument, at Devils Tower, Wyoming.
For more information, visit https://www.nps.gov/deto .