Climbing Devil’s Tower

If you’re like me an legions of Steven Spielberg fans who loved, and I mean LOVED, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, then the mere mention of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming no doubt summons all sorts of images in your head of Richard Dreyfuss clamoring over scree to reach the backside of the mountain where he would encounter a city-sized saucer filled with egg-headed aliens. The musical language that brought aliens and earthmen together still gets caught in my head to this day, and at one point, I’d committed to memory the hand signals used in the film to converse with the ETs.

All that blabbering about one of my favorite films brings me to this story by the well-known Outside writer Mark Jenkins, who discusses his love for the towers (which he calls a 60-million-year-old stump of intruded magma ) and finds in them a spiritual connection that has more to do with earthly qualities than extra-terrestrial ones. He dishes up a healthy plate of history here, telling us about the Native American connection with the place as well as its designation as a National Monument and of course, this being Mark Jenkins, the story of the first ascent of the towers….in 1893 by two enterprising Wyoming cowboys, William Rogers and Willard Ripley.

An altogether fine piece about a place that you may have heard of…or in my case seen in the movies…but wanted to know more about.