Many people remember Devil’s Tower in the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It is much more than a movie phenomenon though. It is our country’s FIRST national monument. Devil’s Tower is a unique geological piece containing thousands of vertical cracks that many rock climbers find there way there to try to try their hand (and foot) at climbing it. If you are in the area, I highly recommend stopping, exploring and soaking it all in.
When you arrive
When we made the trip to Devil’s Tower, we were staying at Custer State Park so made it a day trip. We set the alarm for 6:00am to get an early start. The drive there was about two hours. As we got closer to the Devil’s Tower monument, it seemed to appear out of nowhere. It’s hard not to just stare at it and watch it as it appears to grow as you are drawing near. While there is a decent area for parking, I would not call it a large lot. If you visit during busy season, or on a weekend, I’d recommend arriving early to find a ensure a spot. There is a $25 charge per car to enter.
What to do there
We are active and love to adventure. We started by hiking around the base of Devil’s Tower just to soak it all in and experience the tower from all sides. This hike was about 1.5 miles and easy (we are avid hikers so for some it could be a bit more tiring). During our hike around the base, we stopped and marveled in the rock climbers scaling their way up the side of the tower (a pass is required to climb this). After hiking around the base, we made our way back to the truck and enjoyed a packed lunch on our tailgate under a shade tree (after all, there’s nothing like a good lunch with your best friend on the tailgate of your truck). We truly do love our tailgate lunches when we camp!
After lunch, we hiked the Joyner Trail. This trail was about 2 miles and easy. It went through prairies and ridges that overlooked Devil’s Tower. I was a bit concerned about the prairie rattlesnakes but thankfully we didn’t see any.
Before heading out, we stopped at the souvenir store for some well-deserved ice cream before making the trek back to Custer. After being in the sun hiking, this was a MUCH deserved break/rest before heading back to our campsite.
Recommended: If you plan on hiking at Devil’s Tower, I would recommend plenty of water and snacks. If you are planning on staying a bit, I’d recommend packing a lunch. Of course good hiking socks, sturdy hiking shoes, sunscreen, chapstick with sunscreen, floppy hat, hiking poles (not necessarily needed for the hike around the base but other trails) and of course an emergency first aid kit. Also, be sure to stop at the visitor’s center for hiking trail map. For the latest updates, I highly recommend viewing the Devil’s Tower page on the National Park Service’s website found HERE
Note: If you enjoy the beauty of natural geological wonders, I recommend checking out Black Elk Peak in South Dakota. You can read more about our adventures HERE