Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

“Did you get any closer to the Tower?”

with 32 comments

Yesterday Gallivanta asked in a comment whether we got any closer during our June 1st visit to Devil’s Tower than the place where I took the atypical and rather distant view that appeared last time. I put together today’s post to answer her question.

Below is a photograph taken from a different spot that zooms in on the polygonal columns of rock near the top of Devil’s Tower.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 12, 2017 at 4:55 AM

32 Responses

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  1. Ah, that is certainly closer. I am pleased to see the polygonal rock columns. They reminded me of Fingal’s Cave columns (closer to the sea). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fingal%27s_Cave I have not seen them but I do like Mendelssohn’s music Fingal’s Cave. I wonder what music has been composed for the Devil’s Tower?


    July 12, 2017 at 6:02 AM

    • That’s a good connection you made to the basalt columns at Fingal’s Cave, a place that Eve and I also want to visit (along with Scotland in general).

      Like you, I’m fond of the piece called both “Fingal’s Cave” and “The Hebrides,” written when Mendelssohn was only 21.

      A portion of the music that John Williams composed for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” gets played in scenes involving Devil’s Tower, so there’s at least one answer to your question. I also found something by another composer: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tac7GbvvWQA].

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 12, 2017 at 6:35 AM

  2. Any closer than those pictures here would have been a cliffhanger selfie. 😉


    July 12, 2017 at 6:47 AM

    • That’s a good way to put it. I assure you I wasn’t about to do any cliffhanging, at Devil’s Tower or anywhere else. For some pictures (including the first of the two shown here) I clambered out onto boulders at the base of the structure, but that was the limit of my adventurousness. Any more, and there could well have been the Devil to pay.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 12, 2017 at 6:59 AM

  3. These rocks have such gorgeous form and texture.


    July 12, 2017 at 6:57 AM

    • They do indeed. I can imagine you drawing or painting them. The next time you drive west to Washington, Interstate 90 passes close to Devil’s Tower. But then you’d also want to stop for the Badlands and the Black Hills, and you might never get to Washington.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 12, 2017 at 7:05 AM

  4. I was wrong! That’s not a petrified ancient tree – it’s a petrified stalk of apio!
    Great images! Thank you for allowing us to gaze skyward with childlike wonder!

    • You’re welcome. I’m glad you accepted the invitation to gaze upward.

      At the same time, we have to wonder what you’ve been munching to see a petrified stalk of apio. I just munched away at the Spanish language, in which there’s apparently only one word that rhymes with apio. It’s escolapio, which refers to a member of the religious order of the Escuelas Pías. As for celery, I just learned that English has a word helleri that designates a freshwater fish of Central America having a long swordlike tail. Another dictionary defines it as a brightly colored, playful topminnow that is a hybrid of Xiphophorus helleri and X. maculatus, bred for aquariums.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 12, 2017 at 2:21 PM

      • Ja! I was once advised to say to a transito/police if stopped, ‘Lo siento, no fumar español!’ And no, no fumar nada — Maybe it was because I stripped the ‘threads’ from apio and acelga today while cooking in my friends’ kitchen…
        Apio… the bottom part of one rama looks a lot like —- hmmmm, maybe I’ll check the apio before confirming….

        or photograph the bottom part of the apio!

        I often marvel when words are a bit similar — and when tired, I sometimes retrieve the wrong one, especially ojo and hoja!
        .. apio, ajo, ojo, hoja,

  5. That’s a beautiful contrast in the first photo between the smooth drape of the upper rock and the scree at the bottom. I enjoyed reading the various tribal stories about the rock’s origin, too. It’s easy to imagine the impressions in the upper rock as the claw marks of a bear, and interesting that the Kiowa/Lakota legends turn the girls the bear was chasing into the stars of the Pleiades.


    July 12, 2017 at 1:23 PM

    • Yes, the first picture shows two distinct rocky worlds glommed together. Anyone who wants to go higher than the boulders at the base has to get a climbing permit.

      I have the impression there are legends in cultures around the world of people getting turned into rocks and constellations. Speaking of the Pleiades in particular, I learned when we bought our car two years ago that the Japanese name for that constellation is Subaru.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 12, 2017 at 2:31 PM

      • And now I know, courtesy of the Toyota website, that my Corolla’s name was chosen to reflect “…the ring of petals around the central part of a flower. The name was intended to evoke the image of a beautifully styled, eye-catching compact car.” How about that?


        July 12, 2017 at 4:17 PM

        • I’d wondered about that but never looked it up. From a marketing point of view, though, I wouldn’t think the name evokes the desired reaction, given that so few people know the botanical word corolla.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 12, 2017 at 4:55 PM

  6. Your visual answer to the question is sensational.

    Susan Scheid

    July 12, 2017 at 4:37 PM

  7. Quite impressive!!


    July 12, 2017 at 7:45 PM

  8. Very Nice Steve! I enjoy seeing the country through your lens and blog!

    Reed Andariese

    July 12, 2017 at 9:05 PM

  9. […] the morning of May 30th, two days before bedeviling Devil’s Tower, we’d rushed to Mt. Rushmore, where along with more-conventional pictures I took this one […]

  10. […] back to Rapid City from Devil’s Tower on the afternoon of June 1st, we turned off Interstate 90 and followed the Spearfish Canyon Scenic […]

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