The Ultimate Guide To Devils Tower National Monument
Devils Tower National Monument, an imposing & towering butte in northeast Wyoming!
Devils Tower, a bluff standing alone amidst the lowlands with a flat top and steep columnar sides, is a remarkable geological feature composed of igneous rocks!
Devils Tower National Monument, rising 867 feet from its base and 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River, is the first National Monument in the US! Standing alone in the prairies of Black Hills of Wyoming, Devils Tower is a unique rock formation jutting out of the ground, with steep reeded sides and a flat top. The enticing rock formation, with its columnar sides, is also a prevalent rock climbing destination in the US!
Though it’s commonly agreed that Devils Tower is composed of igneous rocks, but there’re several theories about how the magma rose several hundred feet above the ground and got its peculiar stump shape. Some geologists suggest that Devils Tower is an igneous intrusion, lava forced through the cracks on the earth’s crust that rapidly cooled. Some scientists suggest that it was formed under the ground then later pushed up due to geological upheaval, and others believe it’s a volcanic plug, the neck of an extinct volcano.
The unique structure, several scientific theories, and the native legends make Devils Tower one of the most supremely interesting landmarks in the US!
Devils Tower is a sacred place for the Native Americans and takes center stage in several legends. One of the famous legends describes the formation of the Devils Tower as God’s answer to the prayers of seven young girls trapped by bears. As they prayed to be rescued, the land began to rise, and the angry bears scratched the sides of the bluff, leaving their claw marks on the surface.
Located in northeast Wyoming, close to Montana-Wyoming and South Dakota-Wyoming state borders, Devils Tower National Monument is visible from several miles away. The Park surrounding the monument offers several hiking trails, rock climbing, a campground, picnic areas, and a popular place for stargazing.
Here is my ultimate guide to Devils Tower National Monument, featuring essential trip-planning information, things to do in Devils Tower, hiking trails, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants near Devils Tower National Monument!
Planning Your Trip To Devils Tower National Monument
While Summer is the peak season, the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall are a great choice to beat the crowd at Devils Tower National Monument!
Best Time To Visit Devils Tower National Monument: While Devils Tower National Monument is open year-round, the Park’s busiest months are June through August. Though summer is the peak season, if you don’t mind a little cooler weather, the shoulder months, Spring and Fall, are a great choice to beat the crowds in the Park. Winters are generally cold and snowy and hence have the lowest visitation. If you’re planning to climb the Devils Tower, you might want to avoid the month of June, as there’s a voluntary climbing closure in effect to respect the cultural beliefs and ceremonies performed by the Native American tribes throughout the month of June.
Time Required At Devils Tower National Monument: While an hour is sufficient to see the Devils Tower Monument by hiking the Tower Trail, I recommend spending half a day at Devils Tower, spending some time in the Visitor Center learning about the geology and native legends, leisurely exploring the monument, and hiking a couple of trails in the Park.
Getting To Devils Tower National Monument: Located in northeast Wyoming, Devils Tower is pretty far from the major international airports, making the regional airports the best choice to get to Devils Tower National Monument. There’re no direct Amtrak train services to Devils Tower or Wyoming, and the closest Greyhound bus stop is about 300 miles from the monument.
- Flight: Though Gillette-Campbell County Airport (GCC), Gillette, Wyoming, about 65 miles from Devils Tower, is the closes airport but is serviced by limited airlines. This makes Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota, around 130 miles from Devils Tower Monument, a better choice as it’s serviced by several airlines.
- Train: There’re no direct Amtrak train services to Devils Tower National Monument or anywhere in Wyoming. The closest Amtrak station to Devils Tower is in Williston, North Dakota, about 300 miles from Devils Tower.
- Bus: Greyhound offers bus services connecting a few cities in southern Wyoming to other cities and states in the US. However, the closest Greyhound stops to Devils Tower Monument are located about 300 miles in Cheyenne and Rock Springs in southeast Wyoming.
Parking & Transportation In Devils Tower National Monument: There’re three parking lots at Devils Tower, the Visitor Center Lot, the Picnic Area Lot, and the Joyner Ridge Trailhead Parking, which is a bit further away from the monument. Even with the parking lots, it can become challenging to find parking in Devils Tower during the summer months. So if you’re going in the months of June through August, considering getting an early start. The Park is small, and the monument is quite accessible, so there’s no shuttle or other means of transportation inside the Park.
Other Attractions Near Devils Tower National Monument: If you’re flying into Rapid City, South Dakota, it’s a good idea to add a few other attractions to your Devils Tower itinerary, including Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and Crazy Horse Memorial. If you don’t mind driving long distances, you could extend your Devils Tower trip to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, located approximately 350 miles west of Devils Tower National Monument.
Lodging Near Devils Tower National Monument: The lodging option inside the monument is limited to its only seasonal campground, Belle Fourche River Campground. However, you will find a few locally owned bread and breakfast outside the Park and in the nearby town of Hulett.
Dining Options Near Devils Tower National Monument: While there’re no restaurants inside the monument, you will find a few local eateries located close to Devils Tower, including Devils Tower Gulch serving American fare, Ponderosa Cafe serving gourmet meals, and Devils Tower Trading Post for quick bites.
Things To Do In Devils Tower National Monument
Learn about the geology and native legends at the visitor center, and hike the trails marveling at the looming Devils Tower!
You don’t need a lot of time to explore Devils Tower! If you’re really pressed for time, stop by the visitor center and hike the Tower Trail, but if you have time, there’s a ton of things to do at Devils Tower National Monument, including longer hikes, ranger programs, rock climbing, and stargazing.
Devils Tower Visitor Center: Built in the 1930s, the Devils Tower Visitor Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a great place to start your Devils Tower tour. Besides an information desk and rangers to help plan your visit, the visitor center offers several exhibits about the monument’s geology and history. This is where all climbers must register before they start mountaineering. The Devils Tower Visitor Center also offers a bookstore and is the starting point of the two most popular hikes in Devils Tower – Tower Trail and Red Beds Trail.
Hiking In Devils Tower National Monument: There’re five trails in Devils Tower, two circling the monument and three offering valley landscapes and distant views of the Devils Tower. Though every trail offers excellent views, if you’re pressed for time, you should stick to the Tower Trail or the Red Beds hikes.
- Tower Trail: This is a must-do for everyone! Starting at the visitor center, the Tower Trail takes you to the base of the monument and then loops around the monument offering up-close views of the looming Devils Tower and the several columns on its surface. The Tower Trail is an easy 1.3 miles paved loop and takes about an hour.
- Red Beds Trail: Like the Tower Trail, the Red Beds Trail also loops around the Devils Tower but further away from the monument, offering views of Devils Tower from various angles and gorgeous valley landscapes. The Red Beds Trail also beings near the visitor center and is about 2.8 miles loop, which takes about 2 – 3 hours.
- Joyner Ridge Trail: The Joyner Ridge Trail offers valley scenery and distant views of Devils Tower. The Joyner Ridge Trailhead is located a mile north of the Devils Tower Visitor Center and has a parking lot. The Joyner Ridge Trail is a moderately strenuous 1.5 miles loop and takes about an hour.
- South Side Trail: Starting near the picnic area parking lot near the Belle Fourche River Campground, South Side Trail offers distant views of Devils Tower from the southeast corner of the Park. The South Side Trail is a short 0.6 miles hike passing through the Prairie Dog Town and connects to the Red Beds Trail.
- Valley View Trail: Also starting at the picnic area parking lot, the Valley View Trail is a short 0.5 miles nature trail along the Belle Fourche River.
Rock Climbing In Devils Tower National Monument: The steep columnar sides and the cracks on the surface of Devils Tower draws rock climbers from all over the globe. There’re strict policies around rock climbing at Devils Tower, including registration, climbing gear, and closures. You can find all regulations and further information about rock climbing in Devils Tower National Monument on the NPS website.
Stargazing In Devils Tower National Monument: Due to its remote location, Devils Tower offers a dark sky away from the city’s light pollution, making it a popular stargazing destination among the locals and visitors alike. You could enjoy the night sky from any trails, parking lots, or campground. However, if you’re in Devils Tower during the summer months, the best way to experience the night sky is by joining a ranger-led Night Sky Program offered by the Park.
Other Wyoming Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Devils Tower National Monument, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Devils Tower National Monument. You can find other Wyoming attractions in my Wyoming Travel Guide.
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