When you think of Devils Tower you usually think of UFOs, due to the movie Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Some of you might think of old Indian legends since the site is like a cathedral to them.

But Devils Tower and BATS?

The National Park Service (NPS) and Devils Tower Natural History Association are hosting a bat festival this Saturday, Sept. 25 at Devils Tower National Monument.

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YUP, there are a lot of bats in the area. This is a great chance to learn about the bats that inhabit the area around the tower and into the Black Hills.

Besides educational talks, you'll be able to use a device that allows people to hear bats. If you like you can even help build a bat house. Maybe learn how to make one at your own house.

This year the education part of the program will focus on what is called 'white-nose syndrome' - a deadly fungal disease of bats that was recently detected at Devils Tower.

According to biologists, there are 11 species of bats at Devils Tower. Some that might be affected by white-nose are the little brown bat and the northern long-eared bat, which is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Dwarf epauletted fruit bat (Micropteropus pussilus) flying at night.

"It's not just those two species, although they are listed and it is concerning, we do want to make sure that we're paying attention to all of our species, and make sure that we know how each species is being affected. Because even though one might serve a certain niche, we want to make sure that we know how it's affecting every species that we have within the park," said biological science technician Monique Metza. (Wyoming Public Media).

Bats eat bugs and other things humans call "pests." While these pests are needed in the ecosystem the bats help keep their population under control.

Saturday is Public Lands Day and has been designated a fee-free day at Devil's Tower.

The event is from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Picnic Area. Organizers ask those planning to attend to bring a flashlight or headlamp, with a red lens if possible and to dress in layers for cold weather.

Now let's look at Devil's Tower as seen from a small plane.

During the day, when the weather is nice small planes love to buzz the tower.

There are rules. They have to stay a certain distance from the tower according to the aeronautical charts. There is a blue box around the tower on those charts and a notice advising pilots, for the welfare of the pilots, they should stay 3 nautical miles from the tower.

But there are exceptions, such as this fly-in photographed by Wyoming State Senator Ogden Driskill. His family owns the ranch around Devils Tower as well as the KOA campground. Mr. Driskill took these photos of bush planes coming in to rest and refuel after buzzing around the tower, but not too close.

A video from one of these planes is below. It will put you in the cockpit as the plane flies around the tower.


I was there a few years ago to see a fly-in just like this. Pilots landed in a field just outside of the KOA. These little planes don't need much runway. With those big tires, they can land on just about any surface.


Some of these planes are homemade kit builds. Just order from the factory and all of the parts arrive. Assembly required. Would you trust an airplane you built yourself?


The frames are light aluminum. The skins are usually fabric. They don't fly very fast. Actually, they are built to fly as slowly as possible.


These guys love formation flying. On the day that they were at the tower, they thrilled everyone by flying just below the top of the tower, as a group, as they circled it.


But why stop by just looking at these fun little planes. Pilots cannot fly too low over the tower for the same reasons they can't fly too low. But they can still and do still fly over, usually on their way to the Hulett airport, which is just up the road.

Here is a video shot from inside one of these airplanes as it circled the tower. You'll find the tower scene at about 12 minutes into the video.

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