National monument refers to an area that is protected; it differs from the national park in that the government can announce a certain area to be a national monument without having the congress to approve it. A national monument meant to preserve a unique kind of resource and is managed by a certain agency of the federal government such as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Park Service. The Antiquities Act of 1906 bestows the president with the power to declare certain resources a national monument. Devils Tower was the first national monument in the US, located on Wyoming declared by the then US president Theodore Roosevelt in 1911.
The Devils Tower is a monolithic volcanic intrusion lying 1,558 meters above the sea level and is located at Black Hills within the proximity of Sundance and Hulett in the Crook County. It covers area of 1,347 acres. The monument receives approximately 4,000 visitors annually who climb it using traditional climbing methods (National Park Service, 1985). Before the arrival of the European immigrants the Devils Tower had many names since it is surrounded by many tribes that included Lakota, Crow, Aparaho among others. Each of this tribe had a distinct name for the Devils Tower until 1875 when an interpreter to Richard Irving Dodge, who as on expedition misinterpreted it to mean Bad God’s Tower, the name was later shortened to the Devils Tower (Rogers 1999, pg 167-168).
The area surrounding the Devils Tower is composed of sedimentary rocks while the rocks forming the Devils Towers were laid about 200 million years ago. Its formation was catalyzed by the climatic changes and changes in the sea level. Geologists agree that the Devils Tower National Monument was formed through intrusion of the igneous volcanic material but they fail to agree on how the process occurred. Some argue that the Devils Tower is the neck of an extinct volcanic mountain or a volcanic plug. The Tower is getting more exposed due to the on going erosion process of the sedimentary rocks at its base and at the same time, the Tower is also getting eroded and some of its columns occasionally fall leading to an accumulation of boulders, stones and rocks at its base implying that the rock was once a bigger that it is currently.
The Devils Towers National Monument has been climbed during the last centuries though recently is has become more popular. It is worth noting that the first climber was a local rancher called William Rogers. Many people ascend it using the ascending routes located at all the side of the Tower. Some of the local tribes consider the Tower as a sacred place and oppose the climbing.
Though the common activities around the Devils Towers are climbing and hiking, there are many cultural programs performed by the original inhabitants of the area who were mostly of Indian origin that are scheduled there during the may to September period of every year. It forms a beautiful scenery for the old and young due to is fauna and flora, more so, it has become so popular after the landing of the spaceship in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.