Devils Tower – Devils Tower, Wyoming

Devils Tower.jpgDevils Tower – Devils Tower, Wyoming

The first National Monument of the United States was proclaimed by President Teddy Roosevelt under the Antiquities Act in 1906.  Situated 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River the once hidden rock now towers over the area as erosion revealed its beauty.  Pine forests, woodlands and grasslands cover this 1347 acres park where deer, prairie-dogs, and other wildlife call home.

The site is a sacred site for many American Indians who also call it Bears Lodge. Over 20 tribes have potential cultural affiliation with Devils Tower National Monument.  They are:
Assiniboine & Lakota (MT)
Blood (Canada)
Cheyenne River Lakota
Crow Creek Lakota
Devil’s Lake Lakota
Eastern Shoshone
Flandreau Santee Dakota
Kootenai & Salish
Lower Brule Lakota
Northern Arapaho
Northern Cheyenne
Oglala Lakota
Pigeon (Canada)
Rosebud Lakota
Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota
Southern Arapaho
Southern Cheyenne
Standing Rock Lakota
Three Affiliated Tribes
Turtle Mountain Chippewa
Yankton Dakota
Tribes with historical and geographical ties to the Devils Tower area include: 1

With this great history come the different rituals preformed by the different tribes such as the prayer offerings, sweat lodge ceremonies, vision quests and funerals.  It is also the site for the group Sun Dances.  There are Sacred Narratives told at the site with origin legends, legends of culture heroes, and legends of the origins of ceremonies and sacred objects.

The Cheyenne (who call it “Bear’s Lodge,” “Bears’ Tipi” and “Bear Peak”) camped and hunted here in the winter.  The area is a very sacred place to the Cheyenne.

Many of the tribes have special names for the area and have strong ancient and sacred relationships with the area.

The area is well known for rock climbing. For over 100 years climbers have tested their skills on the face of Devils Tower.  The walls are steep and the challenge real even for those with great rock climbing experience.  As you gaze at the Tower, you will very likely see climbers clinging to the precipitous rock.

The first known climb of the rock was done in 1893 when two ranchers made a 350 ft. wooden ladder to the summit by driving wooden stakes into a continuous vertical crack running between two columns on the southeast side of the Tower.  It was the first time the Tower had been crested by climbing and the ranchers ran an American flag up a flagpole at the top.

In 1937 climbers from the American Alpine Club of New York City climbed to the summit using technical rock-climbing techniques.  It took 4 hours and 46 minutes for them to achieve their goal.  Today the climb annually sees about a thousand ascents.

Most climbers free climb Devils Tower, utilizing naturally occurring ledges, cracks, and projections to inch their way up the Tower. Ropes and equipment are used only as safety precautions – to catch climbers if they should fall.  Some climbers aid climb, using equipment for holds and upward movement.  Climbers are NOT allowed to place new permanent anchors, chip holds in the rock or modify Devils Tower in any way.

Because of the treasure of this Tower the climbing done today is mostly clean climbing which doesn’t damage the rock in any way.

Prairie falcons sometimes nest in the cracks of Devils Tower. Climbing routes near the nest are closed until the young falcons fledge.

The top of Devils Tower is about the size of a football field. It’s slightly dome shaped and rocky, with native grasses, cacti, and sagebrush. Occasionally chipmunks, mice, pack rats, and snakes are found.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held in August (first part) and is just 80 miles from Devils Tower. With tens of thousands of motorcyclists from all over coming to the area you may want to avoid the crowds and come another time of the year.

Pets are not allowed on the trails at the Tower so leave them at home…not in your vehicle!

The 1.3 mile Tower Trail circles the base of the Tower and is paved. The trail has steep grades and is not recommended for wheelchair users.

Visitor Center is open mid-spring through fall. Hours vary season to season. Interpretive exhibits explain the geologic, natural, and cultural history of the area.

Hiking trails meander for approximately 8 miles (12.1 km) through Devils Tower National Monument. The popular 1.3 miles (2 km) paved Tower Trail circles Devils Tower itself. Other longer trails traverse tranquil forests and meadows in the monument.

Winter activities include hiking, cross-country skiing, and climbing. Caution – trails are not maintained in winter.

Technical rock climbing is allowed in the monument. ALL PERSONS PLANNING TO CLIMB OR SCRAMBLE ABOVE THE BOULDER FIELD ARE REQUIRED TO REGISTER BEFORE AND CHECK IN AFTER A CLIMB. The Climbing Management Plan, implemented in 1995, manages Devils Tower as both a natural and cultural resource. To the Northern Plains Indians, Devils Tower is a sacred site. Out of deference to American Indian views, there is a voluntary climbing closure during the month of June.

Interpretive activities: A full schedule of interpretive activities will take place between mid-June and late August. A modified schedule of activities will take place in May, September and October, as staffing permits.

Directions: Visitors traveling east on I-90 exit at Moorcroft, WY. Visitors traveling west on I-90 use any of three Sundance, WY exits.  From Moorcroft or Sundance, take 14 north to 24, take 24 north to Devils Tower.

A scenic alternative for visitors traveling west on I-90 – take exit 199, follow 111 north to 24, take 24 west through the town of Hulett to Devils Tower.

Hours: The Visitor Center is open from April through November, when it closes for the season.  Normal hours are from 9 – 5 until late may when the hours change to 8 – 7.

The campground and picnic area opens April 24 through October 26, weather permitting.


1-7 Day Vehicle Pass-$10

Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle and all its passengers.

1-7 Day Motorcycle Pass-$5

Admits one individual when entering on a motorcycle. Not to exceed $10 vehicle fee.

1-7 Day Individual Permit-$5

Admits one individual when entering on foot or bicycle.  Not to exceed $10 vehicle fee. Individuals 15 years of age or younger are admitted free.

Individual Permit (organized non-profit groups)-$5 per person

ONLY applies to organized non-profit groups (service organizations, scouts, religious groups, college/school groups not qualifying for a fee waiver). Individuals under the age of 16 are admitted free.