On our 17-day road trip this summer, we visited Devils Tower National Monument in northeast Wyoming. Since we were coming from Yellowstone, we weren't sure how this small park would compare, as in, would it be impressive at all. The good news is–yes! Devils Tower was the perfect stop on our drive across Wyoming on the way to South Dakota.
Devils Tower was the first National Monument in the country, declared by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. It is open 24 hours every day (same as all National Parks), but the Visitor Center and Bookstore are only open 8am-7pm daily. The entrance fee is $10/car, but you can go in for free on any of the fee-free days offered each year.
In the Visitor Center, you can pick up the booklet to complete the Junior Ranger program. The kids do the number of pages as how old they are, then return to be sworn in by the Ranger and receive their badge. There's a combination of puzzles, learning activities and observations.
We walked the Tower Trail which leads around the base. It's 1.3 miles, just the right length for kids. There are two other trails, but we stuck to the main area of the park. Reading the exhibits along the path, we learned about how the site is sacred to the Lakota. We saw wildlife and learned more about the geology of the Tower. The kids completed their Junior Ranger booklets along the way, and we had an amazing view hundreds of feet over the Belle Fourche River.
Climbing is allowed on the large boulders at the base of the Tower. Anything higher than that requires approval and climbing equipment. My kids (ages 10, 10 and 12) climbed for a. long. time. It was a great way to run amok after so many hours in the car, and it was exciting for them to feel like real “rock climbers.” Plenty of kids, and many adults, were climbing the boulders, while those of us too scared (ahem) sat and watched.
Oh–and I forgot the best part! On your drive into the park, you drive through a huge prarie dog town. There were hundreds of holes and hundreds of prairie dogs as far as you could see! They were so cute, chirping away and poking their heads out to see who was watching. You can get out of the car to get a better look, but not touch or feed the prarie dogs. We loved it!
If you'll be anywhere near northeast Wyoming, plan a visit to Devils Tower National Monument.