11 Mar
2016
Posted in: travel
By    Comments Off on Take a Trip: Devils Tower National Monument

Take a Trip: Devils Tower National Monument

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016.

Devils Tower National Monument at sunset

Devils Tower National Monument, the first designated national monument in the United States, is located in northeast Wyoming. It’s a geological beacon sprouting from the prairie of the Cowboy state. There are nothing but rolling hills on all sides of the 867-foot tower which overlooks the Bell Fourche River.

Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming

I’m amazed each time the tower finally appears in the distance as we drive U.S. Highway 14. It’s strange to see the massive igneous intrusion standing alone. I’m a lifetime Wyomingite and am continually surprised by the number of people in my home state who have never visited Devils Tower or Yellowstone. Wyoming is home to some don’t-miss natural wonders. If you call Wyoming home, put Devils Tower on your list of places to visit this summer. If you’re traveling in Wyoming, consider planning a driving route to include the tower. You won’t be disappointed.

children hiking with Devils Tower National Monument in the background

The tower is considered a sacred site to several Native American tribes. Different tribes have slightly differing stories surrounding the tower. A bear plays a prominent role in the stories. It’s said the claws of a giant bear left the unique marks in the rock. Our kids favorite part of the quaint visitor center is the painting of the bear attempting to climb the tower and gouging the stone with his sharp claws. Take time to read about the cultural significance of the tower while visiting.

View of the Belle Fourche Valley from Devils Tower

There are several hiking options at Devils Tower. The must-do trail is the paved Tower Trail which is a 1.3-mile loop at the base of the tower. This trail gives visitors an up-close view of the tower and the enormity of it. Keep an eye out for climbers. Over 4,000 people climb the tower every year. The loop also offers a panoramic view of the Belle Fourche valley.

closeup of Devils Tower National monument

My favorite trail at Devils Tower is the 3-mile Red Beds Trail. It’s a wider loop than the Tower Trail taking hikers through a tree area and prairie. I enjoy the view hiking toward the tower as it looms ahead. Most of the trail is exposed so be prepared in the heat of the summer.

Leaving Devils Tower National Monument as seen from a vehicle side mirror

Devils Tower draws large crowds during the peak summer season. One of our favorite travel games is spotting state license plates as we attempt to find all 50 states on a trip. Devils Tower has never disappointed in the number of different states represented in the parking lot. The visitor center/gift shop is small and can become very crowded, but the crowds on the trails are manageable. A large portion of visitors seem to be happy with the standard family photo with the tower and don’t bother to completely hike the Tower Trail. Devils Tower is a unique natural attraction to explore.

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