Devils Tower National Monument
A National Treasure
Devils Tower National Monument, a unique and striking geologic wonder steeped in Indian legend, is a modern day national park and climbers' challenge. Devils Tower sits across the state line in northeast Wyoming. The Tower is a solitary, stump-shaped granite formation that looms 1,267 feet above the tree-lined Belle Fourche River Valley, like a skyscraper in the country. Once hidden below the earth’s surface, erosion has stripped away the softer rock layers revealing the Tower.
The two-square-mile park surrounding the tower was proclaimed the nation’s first national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The park is covered with pine forests, woodlands and grasslands. While visiting the park you are bound to see deer, prairie dogs and other wildlife. The mountain’s markings are the basis for Native American legend. One legend has it that a giant bear clawed the grooves into the mountainside while chasing several young Indian maidens. Known by several northern plains tribes as Bears Lodge, it is a sacred site of worship for many American Indians. Devils Tower is also remembered as the movie location for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
The stone pillar is about 1,000 feet in diameter at the bottom and 275 feet at the top and that makes it the premier rock climbing challenge in the Black Hills. Hikers enjoy the Monument’s trails. The 1.25-mile Tower Trail encircles the base. This self-guided hike offers close-up views of the forest and wildlife, not to mention spectacular views of the Tower itself. The Red Beds Trail covers a much wider three-mile loop around the tower.
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Devils Tower National Monument Fees, Facilities & Programs
Devils Tower National Monument is open year-round 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Admission is $10 per vehicle (including motorcycles) and $5 for bicycles and pedestrians for a seven day pass. An annual park pass is $20 and is good for 12 months from the purchase date. Bus fees are $25 (1-6 passengers); $40 (7-25 passengers) and $100 (26 or more).
What You Should Know When Visiting Devils Tower National Monument
Devils Tower is a significant sacred site to Indian tribes throughout the United States, so please be mindful of this as you spend time taking in the grandeur of the Tower. Park staff asks visitors to be respectful of this quiet place and remember voices and noise travel long distances. Since the Tower is a sacred site to Native Americans all traditional cultural landscapes are protected. Please do not disturb prayer bundles. All plants and wildlife are protected as well.
Rock Climbing at Devils Tower National Monument
Since 1893, people have been climbing the Devils Tower National Monument. That inaugural climb was accomplished by two local ranchers and a 350-foot stake ladder pounded into a crack. That ladder is still visible today, sitting 200 feet above the Tower Trail.
To learn more about the nature and science of Devils Tower, visit the Official Devils Tower National Monument Website. Also check out nearby Keyhole State Park.