Riding Our National Park Systems
By Lenice Basham
PairADice Mules, Belle, Mo.
*If you have a National Park System you would like to see featured in this segment, or have photos of you and your family riding in a National Park System, send your photos/suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Devils Tower National Monument
This month’s National Park article is slightly different in that you cannot take your mules to this National Park. The Devils Tower National Monument is located in northeast Wyoming. It was the first national monument and some people feel it is the only natural monument. It is the core of a volcano exposed after millions of years of erosion brought on by the Belle Fourche River and the weather. The rocks and boulders around the base of the tower are actually broken pieces of columns having fallen from the sides. The tower stands 865 feet high.
We recently visited the Devils Tower Monument on our way to Jake Clark Mule Days. Because of this series of articles, I encouraged (OK, maybe forced) our entire group to go with me to see the National Park. It is quite impressive.
The Native American legend that has been passed down through time indicates that one day an Indian tribe was camped beside the river and seven small girls were playing at a distance. The region had a large bear population and a bear began to chase the girls. They ran back toward their village but the bear was about to catch them. The girls jumped up on a rock about three feet high and began to pray to the rock. The rock heard their pleas and began to move upwards pushing them higher and higher out of the reach of the bear. The bear clawed and jumped at the sides of the rock and broke its claws and fell to the ground. The bear continued to jump at the rock until the girls were pushed up into the sky where they are to this day in a group of seven little stars (the Pleiades).
The National Park was established in 1906 by President Roosevelt under the Antiquities Act. It was the first monument established with the National Park service. Technical rock climbing is allowed on the monument. There is no climbing in June out of respect for Native American ceremonies held that month. It is not an equestrian site. However, it is a truly magnificent monument that you should visit on your travels to or from Jake Clark Mule Days. For more information about Devils Tower, you can visit www.nps.gov/deto. It is located 28 miles from Sundance, Wyo.