Devils Tower diorama




This clear autumn day is perfect for exploring.
The rocky tower in the distance has inspired awe for generations—from Native Americans to President Theodore Roosevelt himself. In 1906, he declared Devils Tower a national monument.
Let’s go and explore!

This is your online field journal.

It has 10 questions to help you observe the animals, plants, and environment in this scene.


What kinds of animals do you see?


What do you think the mule deer are doing? (You can pick more than one.)


Are the deer carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?


Do you think they live here? Or are they just passing through?


What kinds of plants do you see? (Click all that you see.)


How might the ponderosa pine be adapted to the environment? (You can pick more than one.)


How might other organisms depend on the ponderosa pine?


Look at the colors in this scene. What are some of the main colors do you see? (Click all that you see.)


What kinds of geographic features do you see? (You can pick more than one.)


What clues do you see that might tell you how Devils Tower formed? (Hint: There are two.)

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1 of 10

  • amphibians
  • birds
  • fish
  • insects
  • lizards or snakes
  • mammals

The mammals are easy to spot. These mule deer are named for their large, mule-like ears. Did you spot the bird in the tree? This insect-eating bird is called a black-billed magpie. These birds will land on mule deer and pluck ticks from their heads and backs.

2 of 10

  • resting
  • keeping watch
  • hunting animals
  • looking for food
  • playing

The female (without antlers) is looking for food. She could be eating the grass, or searching for nuts, berries, leaves, or other small plants. The male (with antlers) is keeping watch. Deer are very cautious animals, and are always on the lookout for predators.

3 of 10

  • carnivores
  • herbivores
  • omnivores

One clue is that a deer seems to be eating grass. But an even bigger clue is its feet. It has hooves, like horses, cows, and sheep, which means it’s a herbivore, a plant-eater. And if you could see inside their mouths, you’d find flat teeth—a sure sign of plant eating!

4 of 10

  • live here
  • just passing through

They are just passing through. Deer usually stop and stay in places where they can’t be easily seen. At night, they prefer to stay hidden in tall grasses, brush, and dense foliage.

5 of 10

  • ferns
  • grasses
  • trees
  • vines

Tall grasses and pine forests grow around Devils Tower. The tree on the left is a ponderosa pine.

6 of 10

  • It thrives in dry areas.
  • It needs moist soil to spread its roots.
  • It can withstand cold winters and hot summers.
  • Its roots can grow in rock cracks.

Ponderosa pines can survive the site’s hot summers and cold winters, and thrive in the dry environment. This evergreen tree can even grow on rocks by channeling its roots into the cracks.

7 of 10

  • Its needles provide food.
  • Its flowers provide nectar.
  • Its branches provide protection.

Deer eat the pine’s evergreen needles in the winter, while birds rely on the tree for protection and a place to build nests. Like other pine trees, the ponderosa pine does not produce flowers.

8 of 10

  • browns
  • greens
  • purples
  • reds

You see lots of brown rocks, some green trees, and patches of red sandstone. Iron gives this soft rock its reddish color. These are also the oldest rocks at Devils Tower. They formed when the first dinosaurs roamed, around 200 million years ago.

9 of 10

  • river
  • lake
  • butte
  • valley

If you look closely, you can see a river flowing through the rocky valley. The Devils Tower rock formation is a butte, a narrow hill with steep sides and a flat top. It rises over the valley’s soft, broken red sandstone. It is found in legends of some Northern Plains tribes.

10 of 10

  • vertical ridges in the rock
  • scrubby trees
  • long fault lines
  • soft red sandstone surrounding the tower

The rock that makes up the tower was once underground. Magma, or melted rock, had risen towards the surface and cooled to form a column of hard rock with vertical ridges. Over time, the surrounding soft red sandstone was worn away by wind, rain, and snow.


Want to go on your own outdoor adventure?

Use this field journal to record your observations outside!

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