Updated: May 7
When our brood was planning our trip to Devils Tower I could never get the facts straight. I couldn't remember what it was, where it was at, or how to get there. Through all that time, just from the pictures, we knew we wanted to go. Here's why its great for families:
Easy to moderate hikes where you can travel at your own pace.
One of a kind geologic landmark that will not be forgotten
Climbing and exploring everywhere
Prairie Dogs and other wildlife
Perfect detour to stretch your legs en route along I-90
Devils Tower is believed by some to be a volcanic plug. What does that mean? Other sites will have a better definition. However, the way we understand it is that the site used to be a volcano and somehow all of the lava coming up through the tube solidified and made Devil's Tower. Over the years the mountainside eroded away and the plug was solid enough to tower above at its current 800 vertical feet above the ground. To be clear, no one really knows for sure. Every time I think through that geological story I pause in wonder and amazement.
Located in Northeastern Wyoming, about 30 minutes north of I-90, Devils Tower is the first United States Monument. It was deemed a Monument by Theodore Roosevelt on September 24, 1906. The Monument includes a little over 1,300 acres of land. The tower rises over 1,200 feet above the Belle Fourche River and is a little over 5,000 feet above sea level. We'd be remiss if we didn't also include that the local tribes call this place Bear's Lodge and similar names. There have been efforts to name the monument Bear Lodge National Historic Landmark. These efforts have been unsuccessful.
Generally, if you are driving and Devil's Tower is not your only destination the detour off the interstate feels longer than it is. Thankfully, US 14 can cut off 33 miles of I-90 and the whole detour is only 30 miles more than if you were to skip the Monument. The Map below should provide a good visual and was created using google maps.
Parking is limited at the Tower base. It is 3 miles uphill from the Monument entrance to the Tower Base and would take considerable effort to hike. We were able to take our 35' Class A and towed vehicle up to the base and park along the edge. There is probably room for 10 Rvs. When we returned to our rig, parking was full. This again, was a time we were happy we didn't go longer with the RV and we showed up early for a hike.
While we were at Devils Tower we hiked the Tower Trail which is a 1.3 mile loop around the tower. It is an asphalt paved trail with some decent elevation change. There are many benches to rest and take in the views and plenty of space to step off and enjoy the forest and tower. We climbed the boulder field a few times. The boulders are huge and to know that they were once a part of the tower is amazing. Our 8 and 10 year old boys were able to climb the boulder with a little support and enjoyed the experience. There is a line staked near the tower that marks where permits are required to climb further. Plan on taking extra time on the trail for photos, investigating, and boulder climbing. There is a lot around the Tower to pause and enjoy. Other trails in the park include the South Side Trail that is 0.6 miles through the prairie dog town and the 2.8 mile Red Beds Trail that offers views of the Tower and river valley.
In summary, Devils Tower is one of the unique landmarks in the United States. It's not a destination visit unless you are climbing the tower with a permit. However, it is a must see if you are traveling through Wyoming. This could be a one hour stop for those that want a quick look. It could be an all day stop for those that like to hike and take their time. We spent 2-3 hours during our stay and spent the night at Devils Tower KOA. The stop fit into our destination trip to Yellowstone well. I hope you enjoyed our summary of Devils Tower. If you have any questions or comments let us know. If you enjoyed the pictures and story, support us by using our links to Amazon and Camping world to shop or by clicking on the Google ads. Thank you for spending time with us today.
Click here for renting or buying Close Encounters of the Third Kind from Amazon. Close Encounters is a Spielberg film starring Richard Dreyfuss and the focal point of the movie is located at Devils Tower.
Link to Devils Tower National Monument: https://www.nps.gov/deto/index.htm here you can find more details from the National Park Service.
We did a vlog of this page about Devils Tower on YouTube. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRdK-iigkqg&t=19s