How Devils Tower Became the Film Location for ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ [VIDEO]
When production designer Joe Alves was looking for a location for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, he knew he found a special place when he saw Devils Tower National Monument. In fact, director Steven Spielberg couldn't have been happier with the location choice. This video from the Wyoming Office of Tourism talks about Alves' story, and how the first U.S. National Monument became center stage for this science fiction classic.
You think you are smart when doing a film, and then you realize how lucky you were to pick something that was so right. You know, we just liked the shape of it. And then we found out that it has this incredible spiritual value.
- Joe Alves said in the video
Theodore Roosevelt made Devils Tower a National Monument on September 24, 1906, but the mountain has been celebrated long before Roosevelt ever laid eyes on it. The Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, Kiowa, and Lakota all believe the site is sacred. Each tribe has different stories and none involve devils. There was even a petition to change the name to Bear Lodge National Monument.
The Tower has many names including Bear Lodge, Bear Tipi, or Bear's House. The Native American sacred stories are all slightly different, but most have one thing in common. They all tell stories of a bear that carved the massive gashes in the rock.