Scientifically speaking, the Devils Tower is cool (sic). This is a highly distinctive landmark in the Black Hills in northeastern Wyoming. It is listed as an American national monument and is one of the favorite places to rock climb as well as one of the sacred places for the local American Indians.
The Black Hills are stunning and they are culturally significant to the Plains American Indians. See here for what to explore and why the Black Hills are significant. If one is ever visiting the Black Hills or heading over to Yellowstone National Park, be sure to check out this amazing national monument. If one is visiting South Dakota, remember to visit Mount Rushmore.
About The Devils Tower
- Height: 857 Feet or 265 Meters from Base to Summer (5,112 Feet or 1,559 Meters Above Sea Level)
- Established: As A National Monument In 1906
- Age: The Rocks Making Up The Tower Probably Formed At The Same Time as The Rocky Mountain (65 Million Years ago)
- Fun Fact: 65 Million Years Ago Was Also When The Dinosaurs Went Extinct
The Tower is made of phonolite porphyry in technical speak, igneous rock in less technical speak, or cooled magma or lava in normal speak. As the magma cooled it condensed into columns. These columns are must less subject to erosion than the sedimentary rock around it. Most of the columns that make up the Tower are hexagonal (i.e. six-sided).
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While it is formed from magma, not all magma is from what is actually considered a volcano. The Tower was probably never part of a volcano and is generally regarded as an "igneous intrusion" - or a place where the magma from the Earth's mantle welled up between chunks of sedimentary rock.
- Note: During The Pandemic, the National Park Service Is Running Minimal Services Here
Although it was formed 65 million years ago, was be a long time before the Devil's Tower was visible. It would take many millions of years for the wind, water, and ice of mother nature to relentlessly erode the softer sedimentary rock around it. This process is continuing with the nearby Belle Fourche River continuing to eat into the land around it. Still, at a slower rate, the Tower also erodes with its base full of scree (rubble fallen off the tower).
- Columns: Most Six Sided, But Some Are 4, 5 or 7 Sided, They are Upto 20 feet Wide and 600 Feet Tall
Climbing The Devils Tower
The parallel cracks between the columns make the tower one of the best traditional crack climbing areas in North America. The technical difficulty ratings range from 5.7 to 5.13 and the majority of the routes are not bolt protected. One will need camming devices or other anchors. See here for a list of famous mountains to climb around the world.
While the Devils Tower is a climbing favorite, it is also a very sacred site to the American Indians. Some even perceive climbing up it as a desecration to their sacred site. In a compromise, there is the June Voluntary Climbing Closure. The month of June is a particularly culturally significant time when many of the Indian ceremonies take place. The National Park Service asks people not to climb the Tower or scramble inside of the Tower Trail loop during this month out of respect.
Hiking Around The Tower And Entry Fees
There are a number of hikes around the monument with options for hour-long, half-day, or even day hikes.
- Length: 1.5 Miles Loop Of Valley View, Red Beds, and South Side Trial
- Features: Great Views of Prairie Dog Town, The Tower, And The Belle Fourche River Valley
Amphitheater To Visitor Center Out And Back
- Length: 2.6 Miles Roundtrip or 3.9 Miles with Tower Trail Loop
- Features: As Above But With Up-Close Views of the Geologic Formations
South Side To Red Beds Loop
- Length: 4 Miles
- Views: Also Excellent Views Of The Belle Fourche River Valley, Geologic Formations, And Of Course The Tower
Red Beds To Joyner Ridge
- Length: 4.9 Miles Roundtrip
- Views: As Above But Also A Variety of Landscapes Like Praire, Forest, and Red Rock
- Pets: Pets are Not Allowed On The Trails But Are Allowed On The Developed Areas And Campgrounds
- Per Vehicle: $25.00 (Good for 7 days)
- Per Individual: $15.00 - Cyclist, Hiker, etc. (Good for 7 Days)
There is only one campsite actually within the monument - the Belle Fourche River Campground. It is a 2-loop 46-site campground with 4 accessible sites.
- Drinking-Water: Potable Water is Available At Water Spigots
- Basis: First Come, First Served Basis (no Reservations)
- Time Limit: 14 Day Limit on Occupancy
- RVs: There Are 43 Pull Through Sites With Room For Up To 35'
- Restrooms: There Are Restrooms On-Site