Devils Tower National Monument, which looms more than 1,200 feet above Wyoming’s eastern plains and the Belle Fourche River, is a one-of-a-kind natural wonder. The flat-topped volcanic formation is found amid some of the state’s most beautiful country, leaving you plenty to do after you behold its otherworldly presence.
What to Do at Devils Tower
Check out the Devils Tower Visitor Center to learn more about the tower’s geology as well as the culture and history of the area through historical photos and other displays. In 2011, the center will be open year-round (Hours and directions).Hike along eight miles of nature trails near the monument. The most popular is 1.3-mile paved circuit around the massive rock formation, while others wind in and around the surrounding forest and meadowlands. April, May and June are popular with wildflower lovers — nearly 60 varieties of wildflowers have been spotted in the area.
Take a ranger-led tour of the monument. The easy 1.5-hour walk features topics that include geology, the area’s indigenous people, wildlife and more. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes and a water bottle.
Visit during the summer for the National Park Service’s Summer Cultural Program to hear speakers on a variety of subjects. And on select evenings, there’s also a Full Moon Walk that begins as dusk for hikers with flashlights.
Climb it! The tower’s sheer rock faces and hundreds of columns and cracks are a siren song for climbers. All climbers must register with park authorities and check in after their climb. The tower closes to climbers during the month of June due to a voluntary climbing ban out of respect for American Indian traditional cultural activities that occur during that month. Local outfitters and guides can help you with any equipment and instruction you require.
Fish in the Belle Fourche. Look for black bullhead, channel catfish and the area’s famed walleye. Be sure to check with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for information on licensing and regulations.
Go boating on nearby Keyhole Reservoir’s 14,000 wide-open acres and explore a few of its coves. Or, relax on its 50-plus miles of beautiful shoreline in Keyhole State Park. The marina can set you up with snacks, bait and tackle, fishing licenses and a public boat ramp.
Where to Stay
There’s a popular 50-site campground within the park itself (closed in winter), and several others near the entrance offer superb views of the tower. There’s also the town of Hulett, where you’ll find several motels and restaurants just nine miles from the park.
Devils Tower Trivia
• In 1906, Teddy Roosevelt named the tower the United States’ first national monument.
• It had a starring role in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
• Also known as Bears Lodge, the tower is considered a sacred worship site by many Native Americans who leave colorful prayer cloths tied to trees near its base (please don’t disturb them).
• According to the park service, “When the proclamation establishing Devils Tower was published, the apostrophe was unintentionally dropped from ‘Devil’s’ — and this clerical error was never officially corrected.”