Rising 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River, the stone stump of Devils Tower greets visitors miles before they arrive. Established in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the country's first national monument, Devils Tower is well off the beaten path in northeast Wyoming, but it's well worth the trip.

Col. Richard I. Dodge, who commanded a military escort for a U.S. Geological Survey party that visited the Black Hills in 1875, is credited with giving the formation its name. In his book The Black Hills (1876), Dodge described Devils Tower as "one of the most remarkable peaks in this or any other country."

The steep-sided mass of igneous rock rises abruptly from the grasslands and pine forests, and it remains one of the Black Hills' most conspicuous geologic features. Movie buffs will recognize the tower as the landing site of an alien spaceship in Steven Spielberg's 1977 Oscar-winning film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Fran├žois Truffaut, and Teri Garr.