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What Is The Mystery of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming?

Devil’s Tower rises 1,267 feet above the ground and is one of the most natural wonders you’ll ever see. And for generations, Native American tribes have found the massive rock formation to be an incredibly sacred place.

It looks so much like it’s from another galaxy that Steven Spielburg featured it in his movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. However, there’s quite a bit of mystery regarding the tower.

So, today, we’re digging in to see what’s so special about Devil’s Tower.

Let’s go!

Where Is Devil’s Tower? 

Devil’s Tower sits in the northeastern corner of Wyoming and is only an hour and 20-minute drive from the popular Sturgis, South Dakota. The tower is a part of the Bear Lodge Mountains in the Black Hills region. It’s a popular tourist stop for those exploring the exciting spots found in the Black Hills.

Why Do People Visit Devil’s Tower?

Devil’s Tower National Monument commands your attention from the moment you spot it miles before you arrive at the park’s entrance. There’s something incredibly inspiring about staring at the tower and looking at the unique designs in it. A natural sense of wonder draws 500,000 visitors to the monument each year.

However, some visitors come for a much deeper and more spiritual purpose. Local tribes still see Devil’s Tower National Monument as a very spiritual place. They perform personal and group ceremonies at the monument throughout the year.

It’s common for guests to see colorful clothes or bundles by the tower. Tribal members hold many cultural and spiritual ceremonies at the monument. Avoid messing with or disturbing prayer cloths or other religious artifacts you might see around the monument.

Cows and bison with Devils Tower in distance
A visit to Devil’s Tower is a must when in Wyoming.

Can You Climb Devil’s Tower?

Rock climbing is a popular recreational activity at Devil’s Tower National Monument. Scaling the tower provides a hands-on, up close, and personal look at the structure. However, if you plan to make a trip to Devil’s Tower to climb, you must be mindful of closures.

The tower experiences two significant closures to protect the nesting falcons and a voluntary closure during June out of respect for the cultural values of the nearby American Indians. 

Climbers will climb up the hundreds of parallel cracks in the hexagonal columns of the tower. Difficulties range from 5.7 to 5.13 on the climbing scale, and experienced Devil’s Tower climbers find that the older routes are the most difficult. You can only use camming and other temporary anchors when climbing the tower. 

Register at the climbing kiosk to obtain your climbing permit before heading on your adventure. There’s no cost to register or obtain a permit, but you could receive a citation if you climb without one. The National Park Service documents all climbers and has a database of climbers since 1937.

Pro Tip: After exploring the Devil’s Tower spend the night at one of these 7 Best Free Camping Spots in Wyoming.

Can You Hike Devil’s Tower?

Devil’s Tower can be a great place to visit if you enjoy hiking. However, none of their trails are overly long, and only a few have a moderate rating. Tower Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails at Devil’s Tower because it is primarily flat, except for one short and steep section to access the trail. It’s a paved 1.3-mile loop that provides very close-up views of the tower and the folder field surrounding it. 

As this is the most popular trail in the park, it can get very crowded during the busiest times. If you plan to visit between Memorial Day and Labor Day (when the park sees 80% of its visitors), don’t expect to have the trail to yourself.

Devil's Tower in the snow
Devil’s Tower is a stunning site year-round.

What Is The Mystery Of Devil’s Tower?

The mystery of Devil’s Tower revolves around its creation. Seeing such a massive and unique formation within a relatively flat landscape can be mind-boggling. However, you can rest easy in your struggles to understand as scientists still debate how exactly the structure made from igneous rock and phonolite porphyry formed.

Native Americans have passed down oral histories depicting the tower’s creation. There are many variations, but they primarily involve animals and children. Some of the most popular versions involve bears chasing children who cried out for the rocks to rise to save them from the bear. The deep scratches on the sides of the tower are from the bear attempting to climb the tower to reach the children.

What Is The Cultural Significance Of Devil’s Tower?

Devil’s Tower has modern and historical cultural significance to the many Native American tribes that call the Black Hills and surrounding area home. These tribes use the tower’s land for sweat lodges, sun dances, and other religious ceremonies. Visitors commonly see prayer offers left by tribal members around the monument.

Prayer offers are often left near the base of the monument and are colorful bundles of cloth. Visitors can often spot these offerings along trails surrounding the monument. These offerings are similar to many other religious offerings in various religions around the world. Do not touch, disturb, or remove any religious artifacts you discover around the monument.

Close up of Devils Tower National Monument
Go rock climbing at Devil’s Tower.

Why Is Devil’s Tower A National Monument? 

Devil’s Tower became the nation’s first national monument due to its cultural and historical significance. President Theodore Roosevelt frequented the area and had a tremendous passion for nature. As the monument is home to not only a unique geological structure but it’s also home to a variety of reptiles and other wildlife. Giving it this designation protects not only the tower but also the wildlife in the area.

Pro Tip: After exploring the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, head to Laramie and do these 9 Best Things To Do in Laramie, Wyoming.

Is Visiting Devil’s Tower Worth It? 

Visiting Devil’s Tower National Monument is worth it! It’s an incredibly unique and rare geological formation; seeing it in a picture doesn’t do it the justice it deserves. Getting to take in this massive tower with your own eyes and smell the surrounding forest is an experience you’ll never forget. If you’re planning to visit the Black Hills, it’s worth the drive to check out this national park unit.

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