Welcome to the Patrol!    Scroll Down ...

Devils Tower, Wyoming


Quick Overview

Why would you want to see a big rock?

Because Devils Tower is more than just a geological oddity.

There’s something deep and profound here that led Native Americans

to hold this as a Sacred Place.

Double click on above image to view full picture

Zoom Out
Zoom In

More Views

Full Article:

We’d just spent a week in Yellowstone marveling at its abundant geysers, painted canyons, and majestic views. And even though I loved every minute, frankly I was verging on natural splendor overload. It’s a bit like taking a castle tour of Europe – by the fourth or fifth day your eyes start to glaze over. Another day, another moat.


So when I realized our next stop was Devils Tower, well…let’s just say my enthusiasm was not at peak. Another day, another boulder.


Happily, I was proved wrong again.


Heading east from Yellowstone, we passed through Cody and aimed for the Big Horn Mountains. We’d heard horror stories about RV’s ascending Big Horn via the tortuous and steep Highway 14, so we opted for the longer southern highway, Route 16, because the billboards promised it’s the “Fast, Easy, and Safe” way to cross. And indeed it was a gentle passage.


Resting for the night in tiny Ten Sleep (population 260) before tackling the mountains, we camped at Ten Broek RV Park. An interesting mix of permanent campers, rodeo and horse riders, and RV over-nighters. While the campground was a bit rundown, the owners were friendly and the tiny café next door offered free WiFi,


Past Buffalo, Wyoming we picked up Interstate 90 and left the mountains behind. A turn to the north took us in the direction of Thunder Basin National Grassland. And then, at a bend in the road, Devils Tower swung into view. Rising dramatically from the placid prairie, this monolith dominates the landscape - both strange and fascinating.


We camped at Devils Tower KOA, a large and well-run facility not 10 feet from the park’s entrance. The campground has a sprawling layout, plenty of room to stretch out, and lies at the base of this National Monument. Remember the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind? This is the property where they filmed the military camp scenes.


Should you opt for dry camping, nearby Belle Forche River is a National Park Service campground with 50 sites, available on a first-come basis.


The drive into Devils Tower park winds past a village of lively prairie dogs and then ascends up a steep hill toward the monument. There is some room for RV parking at the Visitor Center, but strict rules against leaving pets in your vehicle, and dogs are not welcome on the trails at all. So leave your pooch in the campground, and head up the hill in your towed vehicle.


We stopped first at the Visitor Center to get an education on the area, and were fascinated to learn about Native American legends of the “Bear’s Lodge”. This is a sacred space for native tribes, and prayers in the form of notes tied with ribbons can be seen on many trees. Visitors are asked not to disturb these offerings, same as you wouldn’t mess with artifacts in a church or temple.


Out in the main viewing courtyard, groups of rock climbing enthusiasts were busy prepping their equipment or resting after a sweaty descent. Even though Devils Tower is a National Monument, rock climbing of all forms is permitted, and this is a challenging destination for those agile and experienced enough to attempt the scramble to the top.


My own transformation began when we walked the 1.3 mile trail around the base. It was here I discovered why Devils Tower is so special. There is an energy in the air, indescribable and pleasant, that puts a lift in your step and makes you want to linger. Far from being spooky, as the movie and Indian legends may lead you to believe, I found it to be a place of supreme tranquility and balance. Something resonated deeply with me, and I would hope this is a common experience that you could share, too.


The afternoon we spent at Devils Tower couldn’t have been more splendid: 70 degrees, sunny, with a pine-scented breeze wafting gently. A perfect day to walk the base loop. We ambled through Ponderosa pines, white oaks, and a litter of boulders. There are benches and viewing areas along the paved trail, and we dawdled at each one of them.


Porcupines make their home in this forest, and evidence of their ambitious gnawing can be seen on pine tree bark. I spent some time searching for a loose quill on the forest floor, but really it was an excuse to loiter a little longer among the mossy rocks and tread the soft carpet of pine needles.


Devils Tower proved to be more than just another boulder. It was a terrific destination, and camping at the full-amenity KOA was splendid. You’ll have a great visit, even if you happen to be full-up on natural wonders.









September 21, 2023


Leave a Reply