Devil's Gate, Wyoming

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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Devil's Gate is a remarkable example of superposed or antecedent drainage. The Sweetwater River cuts a narrow 100-meter deep slot through a granite ridge, yet had it flowed less than a kilometer to the south, it could have bypassed the ridge completely. The gorge was cut because the landscape was originally buried by valley fill sediments. The river cut downward and when it hit granite, kept on cutting. It was a matter of pure chance that the river hit the buried ridge where it did.

../Devil's Gate, Wyoming Left and below: Devil's Gate and Independence Rock were prominent landmarks on the Oregon Trail. In many places the wheel ruts of the Oregon Trail are still visible. In other places the Trail is still in use.
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../Devil's Gate, Wyoming Neither Independence Rock nor nearby Devil's Gate are visible from a distance. Both are examples of exhumed topography, and not until you drop into the Sweetwater River valley can they be seen. Here is the first view of Devil's Gate. Independence Rock is still hidden to the left.

Distant views from the northeast are actually the most informative, because it becomes very clear that the ridge through which Devil's Gate is cut was originally buried by the modern valley fill sediments.

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../Devil's Gate, Wyoming View of Devil's Gate from the summit of Independence Rock. The gap, seen obliquely, is just above the tiny white building just left of center at the base of the ridge.
../Devil's Gate, Wyoming View of the mountains north of Devil's Gate from the summit of Independence Rock
../Devil's Gate, Wyoming Approaching the end of the ridge.
../Devil's Gate, Wyoming Left: Oblique view of Devil's Gate from the south.

Below: views of Devil's Gate from the southwest.

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../Devil's Gate, Wyoming View of the Sweetwater valley from the southwest.

A couple of kilometers southwest of Devil's Gate is a highway rest stop. There is a placard describing Devil's Gate and trails leading to it.  The panorama below is taken from this site.


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Created 7 April 2003, Last Update 01 July 2012

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