It’s one of those unique landmarks along the old Oregon Trail. Devil’s Gate was visible for miles, a giant gash right through the middle of the Rattlesnake Mountains, just seven miles southwest of Independence Rock. The best view is from the east, the same angle those courageous emigrants had almost two centuries ago. Wagon Trains couldn’t move through the gorge at Devil’s Gate, but the base near the Trail served as a handy campsite, where there are more than 20 gravesites visible today.
Devil’s Gate is the creation of the Sweetwater River that has crafted a huge cleft in the mountain range. Devil’s Gate is a massive gorge with cliff-walls that reach 370-feet, formed on both sides of a 1,500-foot-long canyon.
And how it got its name? Well, the best explanation to me, comes from local Native American legend. For centuries the tale was told among the Shoshone and Arapaho of the mighty tusked beast that once roamed the land here in what is today, Central Wyoming’s Sweetwater Valley. The giant “devil-like” monster had to be dealt with, and prophets told the Indian warriors to destroy the beast. They attacked from the outer ravines, and in the beast’s death agony, its massive tusks carved a groove in the montain range. Thus, Devil’s Gate was created.
Devil’s Gate is a wonderful view right off Wyoming State Highway 220, between Muddy Gap and Jeffrey City, up in Natrona County. The Bureau of Land Management maintains an historic site, with a short loop trail and signboards.