Devils Tower National Monument

Overview

Introduction

Devils Tower is one of the most unusual geologic formations in the U.S. Located in northeastern Wyoming, this massive igneous rock is indeed a tower, rising straight up from a rolling plain (it's 1,267 ft/386 m high, 1,000 ft/305 m across at its base and 275 ft/84 m across at the top). In 1906, Teddy Roosevelt dedicated it as the first national monument in the U.S. More recently, the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind depicted the tower as the landing spot for UFOs.

The rock can be easily seen from the monument parking lot or from the paved Tower Trail, which circles the monolith. It yields many impressive views and winds through the trees at the base of the rock. There are several other hiking trails within the monument, as well as a prairie-dog town. There is a total of 7 mi/11 km of easy hiking at the monument.

More adventurous visitors can climb the monument to its summit on one of 80 ascent routes of varying difficulty—but be aware, this is technical rock climbing best-suited to those who have some experience. Guided climbs are available. The large numbers of people scaling the tower have led to controversy: Some Native Americans consider it sacrilegious to climb the rock, which for them is a spiritual site. The National Park Service has been trying to find some middle ground between those who would like to see climbing banned and those who want unrestricted access. It's best to check in advance for those guidelines. Currently climbers are asked to hold off in June (a time when many sacred ceremonies occur) out of respect for Native Americans' beliefs. There's a campground at the monument and several private camping areas nearby for those who want to overnight in the area. 290 mi/470 km north of Cheyenne.

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