DEVILS TOWER NATIONAL MONUMENT NEAR RAPID CITY
One of several parks and monuments surrounding Rapid City, visiting Devils Tower promises natural wonder and Native American discovery. Rising 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River, just across the South Dakota border in Wyoming, Devils Tower National Monument was proclaimed the nation’s first national monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. From Rapid City, a 107-mile scenic cruise through the Black Hills leads you to this majestic monolith, one of six area destinations celebrating access to inspiring landscapes during the 2016 National Park Service Centennial.
A place of great spiritual significance to American Indians, Devils Tower is considered sacred to the Lakota and other Plains Tribes. One American Indian legend holds that the rock sprang up just in time to save two boys from a bear; the fluted nature of the tower formed as the bear pawed at the rock. Traditional ceremonial activities continue here, including prayer offerings, vision quests and the Sun Dance.
The tower and surrounding area are home to a diverse range of plants and animals, making it a popular destination for wildlife photography. You may spy bison, mule and white deer, porcupines, prairie dogs, bats, turkey and rattlesnakes among the Ponderosa Pine forests and cottonwood-dotted fields of the monument, or prairie falcons nesting in the cracks of Devils Tower. A limited number of campsites in the park are among the camping options available in and around Rapid City.
The Visitor Center is now open year-round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Visitors can browse exhibits about the geological, natural and cultural history of the monument.
A full schedule of interpretive activities and ranger-led programs is offered Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, with a modified schedule in September and October. Programs include a tower walk, natural and cultural talks, a Junior Ranger Program and evening programs held under the stars. A full listing of programs is available in the Visitor Center.
Adding to the hiking trails in and around Rapid City, there are approximately eight miles of hiking trails at Devils Tower that take you around the monument. Some of the popular paths are paved and accessible, while others take you through forests and prairie meadows.
TECHNICAL ROCK CLIMBING
Sites throughout the Black Hills create a virtual playground for rock climbing enthusiasts, with granite spires, sandstone boulders and limestone canyons begging to be explored. Vertical faces of igneous rock with hundreds of parallel cracks make Devils Tower one of the most appealing climbing areas in North America. Technical rock climbing is allowed but all climbers must register at the Visitor Center before climbing and then check-in after. Because the site is considered sacred by Native American tribes, there is a voluntary climbing closure during the month of June.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE VISITING
- Located 107 miles northwest of Rapid City on US Hwy 14 and WY Hwy 24
- Open daily, year-round
- 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
- Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
7-Day Single Vehicle Pass: $10
7-Day Motorcycle Pass: $5
For more information, call 605-718-8484 or visit the Devils Tower page on the National Parks Service website.