Devils Tower National Monument, a unique and striking geologic wonder steeped in Native American legend, is a modern-day national park and climbers' challenge. Devils Tower sits across the state line in northeast Wyoming. The Tower is a solitary, stump-shaped granite formation that looms 1,267 feet above the tree-lined Belle Fourche River Valley, like a skyscraper in the country. Once hidden below the earth’s surface, erosion has stripped away the softer rock layers revealing the Tower.
The two-square-mile park surrounding the tower was proclaimed the nation’s first national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The park is covered with pine forests, woodlands, and grasslands. While visiting the park you are bound to see deer, prairie dogs, and other wildlife. The mountain’s markings are the basis for Native American legend. One legend has it that a giant bear clawed the grooves into the mountainside while chasing several young Indian maidens. Known by several northern plains tribes as Bears Lodge, it is a sacred site of worship for many American Indians. Devils Tower is also remembered as the movie location for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
The stone pillar is about 1,000 feet in diameter at the bottom and 275 feet at the top and that makes it the premier rock climbing challenge in the Black Hills. Hikers enjoy the Monument’s trails. The 1.25-mile Tower Trail encircles the base. This self-guided hike offers close-up views of the forest and wildlife, not to mention spectacular views of the Tower itself. The Red Beds Trail covers a much wider three-mile loop around the tower.