Devils Tower National Monument
Anchoring the northeast corner of Wyoming is the country’s first national monument—Devils Tower. A laccolithic butte that is made up of igneous rocks, Devils Tower is a jaw-dropping geological feature that rises 867 feet above Wyoming’s rolling prairies.
While Devils Tower National Monument garnered significant attention as the backdrop in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the tower is sacred to many Northern Plains Indian tribes, as well as the Kiowa Tribe, who made their homes in the Black Hills region. With oral storytelling and a history that dates back thousands of years, today American Indian tribes continue to hold sacred ceremonies at the tower, including sweat lodges and sun dances. With a rich history that combines the country’s First Nations with cowboys, rock climbers and incredible night skies, Devils Tower is a must-visit destination in Wyoming.
Stargazing at Devils Tower
Stop in at the Devils Tower Visitor Center to learn about ranger-led programs, night sky viewing opportunities, hiking trails and climbing information. While daily programs (including guided hikes and ranger talks) are offered regularly, during the summer the park has astronomy programs that provide incredible views of the night sky, largely due to low light pollution and clear skies in the area.
Hiking at Devils Tower
Five hiking trails at Devils Tower National Monument—Tower, Red Beds, Joyner Ridge, South Side and Valley View—provide different views and perspectives of the tower. Tower Trail is the most popular route as it takes its visitors along a 1.3-mile-long path around the base of the tower. Meanwhile, Joyner Ridge is an easy 1.5-mile-long hike that offers pretty perspectives of the tower, especially at dusk.
Climbing at Devils Tower
For a more adrenaline-pumping activity, Devils Tower offers abundant climbing routes along its parallel cracks. Climbers who wish to ascend the tower need to register prior to their climb and ensure they follow all rules and regulations. In addition, a June Voluntary Climbing Closure takes place during the entire month of June to show respect to the American Indian tribes that view the tower as sacred.
Devils Tower Lodging
Belle Fourche River Campground is located within Devils Tower National Monument. A popular 50-site campground, Belle Fourche is open from May to October, weather permitting. All sites are a first-come, first-serve basis. There are also campgrounds near the entrance of the tower that provide guests with easy access and jaw-dropping views. In addition, lodging can be found in the nearby towns of Hulett and Sundance.
- In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt named the tower the United States’ first national monument.
- Devils Tower 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 American Indians who leave colorful prayer cloths tied to trees near its base (please don’t disturb them).
- According to the National 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.”
- Rocks regularly break away from the tower’s steep walls.
- A variety of animals make their home in and around the monument, including deer, prairie dogs, rabbits, bats, red fox and bobcats.