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Perhaps best known for its appearance at the climactic scene of the Steven Spielberg sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Devils Tower National Monument is a mecca for climbers from all over the world who scale its 1,267-foot facade thousands of times annually. The 50-million-year-old distinctively scored volcanic remnant is encircled with sedimentary stone. According to Lakota Sioux legend, the distinctive honeycombing of the tower was a result of sisters who climbed the tower to escape a great grizzly bear that scraped the tower with his fearsome claws. Thus, Devils Tower is a name given by white settlers; Grizzly Bear ...

Perhaps best known for its appearance at the climactic scene of the Steven Spielberg sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Devils Tower National Monument is a mecca for climbers from all over the world who scale its 1,267-foot facade thousands of times annually. The 50-million-year-old distinctively scored volcanic remnant is encircled with sedimentary stone. According to Lakota Sioux legend, the distinctive honeycombing of the tower was a result of sisters who climbed the tower to escape a great grizzly bear that scraped the tower with his fearsome claws. Thus, Devils Tower is a name given by white settlers; Grizzly Bear Lodge, or Mato Tipila, is the Lakota moniker. Beyond the climbing opportunities - over 220 routes in all - there are about 10 miles of hiking trails in the monument's 1,347 acres, including the can't-miss Tower Trail, encircling the tower and offering countless photo ops in its 1.3 miles. Fishing in the Belle Fourche River, lazily snaking its way through the verdant plains at the tower's base, is another summer activity. The tower's long and storied history as a sacred place for the Lakota people and other Native Americans has made for some competition with the climbers; a voluntary climbing ban in June has been met with some resistance by the climbing community.

Eric Peterson
About the Expert

Eric Peterson has written and contributed to numerous Frommer’s guidebooks covering the American West, including Montana & Wyoming, Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, and Texas.

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Eric Peterson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: A volcanic neck located in the Black Hills near Hulett and Sundance in Crook County, northeastern Wyoming, above the Belle Fourche River.
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    April to October