A dayís travel
west of Independence Rock, the emigrants encountered another major trail
landmark: Devilís Gate. Here, the Sweetwater River has carved a narrow cleft
in the Sweetwater Rocks that is about 370 feet deep and 1500 feet long.
The cleft is 30 feet wide at the base but nearly 300 feet at its top.
Although wagons were forced around the cleft, emigrants frequently stopped to hike around this feature and carve their names. Emigrants frequently noticed bighorn sheep climbing the hills. In 1846, Oregon-bound emigrant James Mathers said "Öencamped above the pass of the river, between high rocks. This is the most interesting sight we have met with on our journey."* It is thought that nearly 20 emigrants are buried near here, although only one known grave remains. The occurrence of several murders in this region led some emigrants to believe this truly was a bedeviled site.
The Shoshone and Arapahoe Indians attribute Devilís Gate to the actions of an evil beast with enormous tusks that once roamed this area, preventing the Indians from hunting and camping in this region. Eventually, the Indians became disgusted and decided to kill the beast. From the passes and ravines, the warriors shot the beast with a multitude of arrows. The beast, enraged, tore a hole in the mountains with his large tusks and escaped.
The site is best viewed
from the BLM interpretive turnout on Route 220. This offers a magnificent
overview of the Sweetwater Valley as well as Devilís Gate and includes
a number of interpretive panels. Emigrant trail ruts are visible from
a paved pathway.
National Park Service
Comprehensive Management Plan