The Devils Tower National Monument was made famous in Steven Spielberg’s 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. However, Devils Tower has a rich history going back much further than 1977. Located in Crook County, Wyoming, was the first natural formation in the United States to be declared a national monument in 1906. Part of the Black Hills mountain range, the monolith was formed from cooled magma exposed through erosion and stands at 1,267 feet tall. Of course, families can visit Devils Tower with kids and have an enjoyable time. Continue reading to learn all you need to know about visiting this unique national Monument with kids.
About Devils Tower National Monument
- 1875 Col. Richard Dodge, wrote that “the Indians call the butte “Bad God’s Tower,” the name was later modified to “Devil’s Tower.”
- September 24, 1906, was designated as the first National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt
- The apostrophe in “Devil’s” was accidentally left out on the Presidential Proclamation signed by Roosevelt. It was never corrected and the name Devils Tower has stuck
- Devils Tower is 867 feet tall from its base to the summit. It rises 5,112 feet above sea level.
- The distance around the base of the Tower is 1 mile. The Tower Trail is 1.3 miles
- The small, colored bundles of cloth that are often seen around the base of Devils Tower are sacred offerings left by local American Indian tribes.
Getting to Devils Tower National Monument
Devils Tower National Monument is fairly easy to get to. The Park is located about 30 miles north of I90 in North East Wyoming.
While we were traveling from the Badlands National Park to Yellowstone National Park we stopped to see this massive monument. We were able to visit Mount Rushmore in the morning, and Devils Tower in the afternoon.
Cost to Visit
A single vehicle with 1-7 passengers, costs $25
A motorcycle costs $20
For a single person walking or biking in, it costs $15
National Park Annual Pass Members get in free.
What to Do at Devils Tower With Kids
Learn the History of Local Native American Tribes
Devils Tower has a deep connection with the Native American tribes of the area. This is one of the first things you notice when you arrive, although you may be unaware of what you’re looking at.
All around the base of the Tower, you will notice fabric, and flags tied to the trees surrounding it. In order to further learn about these prayer flags we stopped and asked a Park Ranger. The Ranger was more than happy to explain the Prayer Flags and the importance of Devil’s Tower to the surrounding Native American tribes. You can learn about this Native American sacred site by visiting the NPS site.
The NPS website shares many of the Native American stories related to Devils Tower.
When you visit Devils Tower we strongly recommended learning about the local Tribes, and how important Devils Tower is to them. The NPS does a great job protecting and teaching this important history.
Enjoy a Hike
Devils Tower offers five hiking trails that provide great views, hiking opportunities for all levels of experience.
During our stop, we hiked the Tower Trail with our kids.
Tower Trail is a 1.3-mile loop that starts across the parking area from the visitor center. A short, steep section leads to a fork where you can go either way and walk around the base of the Tower.
Tower Trail Information
Trail Access: visitor center parking lot or Red Beds Trail
Stretches of moderate elevation change
Offers close-up views of the Tower and boulder field, as well as sweeping views of the surrounding landscape
The most popular hike in the park which can get very crowded
By all means, this was an easy hike to do with kids. For more adventurous, and experienced hikers there are a number of longer trails. All of which starts from the parking lot near the visitors center.
Go Boulder Climbing
Devils Tower is known for its parallel cracks which hundreds of rock climbers enjoy annually. Hundreds of these parallel cracks divide Devil’s Tower into large columns. These features make it one of the finest traditional crack climbing areas in the country.
Of course, this is for experienced climbers, and not something you could do on a day trip to Devils Tower with kids.
However, the base of the Tower is surrounded by a large boulder field. The Tower trail winds its way through the boulder field and makes it easy to get to.
The boulders here range from small pebbles to the size of refrigerators and the length of school buses. One of the great things about this monument is that people of all ages are inspired to climb over the boulders.
We enjoyed an afternoon of climbing through the boulder field with our kids. This is a fun experience for people of all ages. However, you do need to be careful and aware of the holes and boulders.
Stop and Enjoy Prarie Dog Town
When you enter the monument you will easily see Prairie Dog Town on the lefthand side of the road. There is plenty of room to pull off the side of the road to spend a few minutes watching the prairie dogs. Even in our Rv, we were able to pull off the road to watch.
As you exit your vehicle you will find a large flat field pockmarked with numerous burrows holes from the prairie dogs. As we stood and watched we could see many of these animals sticking their heads up out of the burrow holes. There were many running around, and doing their business. You also get a sense they know you are there and watching them.
This is a quick stop as you make your way up to the monument. Our kids enjoyed seeing them and watching them run around. Though it is not a long stop it is certainly something entertaining to do at Devils Tower with kids. Certainly, take a moment to stop and enjoy this quick site.
Become a Devils Tower Junior Ranger
In our opinion, one of the best things the NPS does is the Junior Ranger Program. You can learn more about this program and some of our experiences in our Junior Ranger Program blog post.
This is a fantastic way to spend the day at any National Park Site and help your kids learn. With a free Junior Ranger book from the Visitor Center and some time to learn to explore Devil’s Tower families will learn all about the monument’s rich history. After all, we believe it is vital to travel with our kids and allow them to continue learning new things.
Our Experience at the Devils Tower National Monument
Our time at the Devils Tower National Monument was a part of our cross-country road trip to Yellowstone.
Were visited with our kids, and were able to enjoy the Monument in one afternoon. The kids completed the Junior Ranger program, we hiked the Tower Trail and had a great picnic lunch. This is Nationa Monumnet that not many people get to see due to its seclusion, and the lack of anything else around the area for families. However, if traveling through the area we highly suggest visiting Devils Tower.
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Have you been to Devils Tower, or are you planning on going? We would love to hear your stories from the Tower or answer any questions you may have.