Mateo Tepe or Devils Tower: Native and Tourist Differences in Geosite Interpretations

Richard Stoffle, Kathleen Van Vlack, Heather H. Lim, Alannah Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Devils Tower is located in Wyoming, USA. It is composed of volcanic elements from the Tertiary Period of geologic time. Geologists are interested in this geosite because it is a unique, upstanding, steep-sided, high-relief exhumed Tertiary-age volcanic plug. As a Native American cultural geosite, however, it is often called Mateo Tepe, and it is a sacred place to over 20 Native American tribes. It was inscribed as America’s first national monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, because of its special geology. It is visually dramatic due to its columns, which are understood by earth scientists as a wonder of geology but by Native people as the claw scratches of a spiritual bear. These vertical cracks are the focus of rock climbers and Native people, respectively as opportunities for adventure and self-fulfillment and spiritual paths to another dimension and the achievement of religious balance in the world. Mateo Tepe became a national monument due to it being a unique geologic feature. The geopark concept is used in this analysis to talk about this geologically based monument.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number357
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Devils Tower
  • Mateo Tepe
  • National Park Service
  • Native Americans
  • geoheritage
  • geopark
  • geosites
  • pilgrimage
  • sacred geography
  • sacred space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


Dive into the research topics of 'Mateo Tepe or Devils Tower: Native and Tourist Differences in Geosite Interpretations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this