Things to do at Devils Tower

Things to do at Devils Tower: Nature Walks to Stargazing Nights

Whether you are in Wyoming for a vacation or a short day trip, there are many things to do at Devils Tower that I promise you will love. It was a highlight of our Northern Wyoming road trip, and one of the best things we did in Wyoming. 

In this post, you will learn about things to do at Devils Tower, its history, what you need to know for your time there, and tips to have the best experience. 

If you are looking for some help planning your trip, check out the custom planning services I offer.

Disclaimer: This post may include affiliate links. If you click one of them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

History of Devils Tower

Devils Tower is located in northeastern Wyoming about 33 miles (53 kilometers) northwest of Sundance. Many indigenous tribes have a connection to it and refer to it as Bear Lodge Butte and consider it to be sacred (more on that later). The tower stands approximately 867 feet (264 meters) tall from its base to its summit. Its diameter at the base is around 1,000 feet (305 meters).

It is not truly known how Devils Tower was formed, and there are many theories on its formation. The easiest explanation is that it was formed 50 million years ago from molten rock that cooled underground and later was exposed to erosion that caused the formation of this igneous rock. It is the core of an ancient volcano that later exposed the columnar rock structure you see today.

Devils Tower From A Distance, Wyoming

In 1875, Army Commander Richard Dodge stated that the local Native Americans called it “Bad God Tower”. He later altered the name to Devils Tower. No one knows the reason why. 

In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt declared the Devils Tower the first national monument in the United States, under the Antiquities Act, which was established to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features. 

In 1977, Devils Tower gained fame when it was featured in Steven Spielberg’s science fiction film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This movie led to a plethora of alien themed souvenirs for tourists to buy when visiting the Devils Tower.

Geological Significance

The columns of Devils Tower are known as columnar jointing and are its most striking feature. It was formed when molten rock cooled, and then contracted. This caused stress on the rocks which led to the formation of the columns. The Tower columns are more irregular in shape, possibly because of their large size. Scientists were unsure of what caused this formation, but this structure is considered the most spectacular example of this geological phenomenon.

Crack the Window, Devils Tower, Wyoming

Indigenous Ties

Devils Tower or Bear Lodge, is considered sacred by several Plains Indian tribes, including the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow and Arapaho. They have their own cultural and spiritual stories associated with the formation. One of the legends is that two young girls were out playing when a grizzly bear began to chase them. They jumped on a small rock and prayed to the Great Spirit for help. The Great Spirit made the rock grow, and the bear tried to climb it but slid down, leaving giant claw marks on its side.

Today, members of the tribes still leave small, colored bundles of cloth tied to trees near the base of the Devils Tower. These are sacred offerings and are left as personal prayer offerings or remembrances of a person. Respect these sacred ceremonies and do not touch or photograph these items.

The Window on Devils Tower

Planning Your Trip

How to Get There

Highway 24 is the only highway to get you to Devils Tower. The closest airports are Gillette, Wyoming, 66 miles (106 kilometres) or Rapid City, South Dakota, 115 miles (185 kilometres). Here are a few driving distances if Devils Tower is part of your Wyoming road trip

  • Gillette, Wyoming 66 miles (106 kilometres)
  • Cody, Wyoming 300 miles (480 kilometres)
  • Casper, Wyoming 188 miles (302 kilometres)
  • Billings, Montana 265 miles (426 kilometres)
  • Rapid City, South Dakota 115 miles (185 kilometres)

Click here for your Wyoming Road Trip Packing List.

Looking to rent a car? Check out some great car rental options to find the best deal for you.

Where to Stay

If you want to stay close to the Devils Tower, and have an amazing view of it, the best thing to do is something outdoors. Here are some options:

Devils Tower Tipi Camping – Highly Recommended! When we visited the tower we spent the night sleeping in a Tipi and it was an amazing experience. We were able to see the Devils Tower from our tipi and it was worth the night we stayed there. Book this amazing experience now! 

Belle Fourche River Campground – Has all the features of a camping experience (with no hookups) and the added bonus of being in the national park with a view of Devils Tower. This site is first come first serve and from what I understand, it can be difficult to get in as it is always busy in the high peak season. 

Devils Tower KOA Journey – If you want the extra perks of camping, including a restaurant, power and more amenities, then this is your location. Click here for more details.

If you are looking for a lodging that is close by but not camping, then you can find a few options for lodging nearby: Check Hotels

Devils Tower Tipi Camping, Wyoming

Hours of Operation

Devils Tower is open all year around, 24 hours a day. However, climbing of the tower is closed during April to protect nesting falcons and in June to respect American Indian cultural activities. The Visitor Centre and Gift Shop is open 9:00am to 6:00pm with some seasonal closure for major holidays and for the last two weeks of February.

During the summer, plan to arrive before 10am to avoid congestion. Between 10:00 to 4:00pm expect to wait up to one hour to get into the parking area near the Visitors Centre.

Tip: Arrive before 8am. We arrived at 730am and there were minimal people when we hiked around the tower. We were able to enjoy the sites and take in the geological splendor as well as do some bird watching without crowds of visitors.

Map of Things to do at Devils Tower

Map of Devils Tower; Credit: National Park Service


You can learn about the geological, cultural and natural resources of the area,  as well as find the washrooms and the gift shop at the visitors centre. Be prepared to spend some money on some hidden treasures you can find in the gift shop, like I did.

Visitors Centre

You can learn about the geological, cultural and natural resources of the area, find the washrooms and the gift shop at the visitors centre. Be prepared to spend some money on some hidden treasures you can find in the gift shop, like I did.

Food Options

There are picnic areas near the visitor center where you can enjoy a meal with a view of Devils Tower. Spend the afternoon taking in the natural beauty of the area.

At the entrance to the park, you will find a few small places to eat. The Devils Tower View Cafe offers a sit down area or you can order food to go. 

Campstool Cafe offers great food and is open from June 1 to September 1. There is also a Saloon and Sweets spots to tempt your tastebuds.


Unfortunately pets are not allowed on the trails around the Devils Tower. If you bring your dog, please ensure you keep them cool by parking in a shaded area, windows open and have water available. We were in the park by 8am so my pup did well and had no issues. Park in the shade and leave water out.

How Long Do You Need There?

Expect to spend 2-4 hours in the National Park. If you decide to do a few of the hiking trails, then you can easily extend that to spend a full day in the park.

Things To Do At Devils Tower


There are 3 main hiking trails to explore at Devils Tower and enable you to get the best views or pictures, depending what you are looking for.

Tower Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Distance 1.3 miles (2.1 kms) 

This trail is the most popular loop around the base of the tower and provides interpretive signs to learn about the tower and the surrounding area. As you are walking, you will notice large boulders and rocks around the trail. It’s not 100% known when they got there but it is known that no one has ever been injured from a falling rock. 

Joyner Ridge Trail

Difficulty: Easy but is not maintained so may be some difficulty with uneven terrain. 

Distance: 1.5 miles (2.4 kms)

This trail sits back from the Tower itself, so it provides some beautiful views of the tower and scenery. You don’t get the upclose views were you can touch the rocks, but still is breathtaking to view. 

Red Beds Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.8 miles (4.5 kms)

A less popular hike with amazing views and you get to experience the red rocks like you see in Arizona. The trail has its ups and downs and is maintained well for a hiking trail. It is recommended to go early to have some morning shade from the sun and travel the route counter clockwise.

If you are new to hiking then you can check out this post with great tips on hiking.

View from Tower Trail Hike at Devils Tower

Prairie Dog Town

The 40 acre area is home to 600 resident prairie dogs and are key to the park’s ecosystem. You can view them from your car or take South Side or Valley View trails for a bit of a closer encounter. These trails go through taller grass and are not maintained so be aware of your surroundings.

Prairie Dog Town - Devils Tower


Bring your binoculars as the Devils Tower is home to many types of wildlife, including pronghorn antelope, white tailed deer, mule deer, squirrels, prairie dogs and various bird species. 

We were lucky to find 22 species of birds around the Tower including White-throated Swifts that nest on the side of the Tower. That was a life bird for me!

You may be lucky, or unlucky, enough to see raccoons, red foxes and snakes. Whatever you may see, ensure you respect the wildlife as we are in their area.

Circle of Sacred Smoke Sculpture

Sculptor Junkyu Muto created this sculpture to honor the American people as a gesture of world peace. It represents the first puff of smoke from a newly lit pipe. You will find it just down the road from Prairie Dog Town.

Circle of Sacred Smoke Scuplture

Ranger Programs

The National Park Service offers ranger-led programs, including guided hikes and talks, which provide insight into the geology, history, and cultural significance of Devils Tower.

Check the visitor center for the schedule of events during your visit.

Rock Climbing

If you are looking for the most daring things to do at Devils Tower, then rock climbing is just for you. The climb is considered to be unique and challenging. Make sure you obtain a climbing permit from the visitor centre before starting your trek.  

In 1893, the Devils Tower was summited by local ranchers via a wooden ladder. If you look really close you can still see it on the Tower.

On June 28th, 1937, mountaineer Fritz Wiessner became the first person in history to free-climb the Devils Tower. 

Ever since then, 5000-6000 people climb the tower every year. 

On average, it takes 5 to 8 hours to go to and from the Devils Tower summit. The duration varies depending on the trail, level of expertise and the trekking method.

Devils Tower 'Bowling Alley' Climbing Route

Viewing the Night Sky

One of the coolest things to do at Devils Tower is stargazing. It’s location in an area with minimal light and a mostly remote area, makes for a great spot if it’s a clear night. Just sit back and enjoy the sunset or night sky.

Devils Tower at Sunset

You will definitely find a connection to the area and with so many things to do at Devils Tower, you won’t regret visiting the area.

If you want to explore what northern Wyoming has to offer, check out this post on a Wyoming Road Trip and venture across the state to the west, including a stop at Yellowstone. If you are looking for some great places to stay, then check out these fun places to stay in Northern Wyoming.

Subscribe to my newsletter below to keep updated on all the cool things you can do to explore the outdoor world and connect with nature.

Like this post? Share it with others!


  1. I’d love to visit sometime and do some hiking here. I haven’t been to this part of the US yet! I remember reading about Devil’s Tower while researching Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland years ago; the dark, hexagonal basalt columns there are similar to those found here. Xx Sara

  2. I have visited Devils Tower before, and I always been amazed at its immensity. Thanks for all the great information on things to do around Devils Tower, and the logistics. Very useful.

  3. I don’t know why, but I am always really drawn to cool geological formations like this, especially basalt columns. It is always so impressive to see the kind of rocks volcanoes can create eh!? It’s awesome that there are so many options once you visit the amazing Devil’s Tower. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *