Known by movie fans for the part it played in the 1977 film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ the monolithic Devils Tower has been a major tourist attraction since long before the aliens landed here! Declared in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, Devils Tower was actually the USA’s first National Monument.
Visible for many miles around you may be tempted to make do with the view of this huge monolith from the road when passing by in your RV, but we really recommend you take a closer look. The immense height of Devils Tower can’t be appreciated until you stand under it and look up at the near vertical sides that rise 1,267 feet (386m) above you.
Devils Tower attracts around 400,000 visitors per year, so a balance between keeping this site sacred to Native Americans and allowing tourists to come and visit has to be reached. Although known to most visitors as Devils Tower, Native American tribes have a variety of names for it, all associated with a bear, such as Bear Tower, Bear’s Lodge, Bear’s Lair, and Bear’s House, so what’s the fascination with a bear?!
The different tribes, such as Lakota, Cheyenne, Shoshone, and Arapaho have been visiting Devils Tower for generations, passing down their stories as to how this monolith came to be here. One popular legend tells of a group of six Sioux girls who were chased by bears one day while out picking flowers. The Great Spirit wanted to protect them so raised the ground beneath them prompting the bears to try, unsuccessfully, to climb the rock. As their claws dug in they left hundreds of scratch marks on the sides.
Most tourists wouldn’t dream of climbing this vertical monolith, content in merely gazing up at it, but you can! We’ll hook you up with a guide to show you the ropes, and with so many different climbing routes Devils Tower can be scaled by visitors of all levels.
- The First known ascent of Devils Tower took place in 1893 when it was climbed by two local ranchers, William Rogers and Willard Ripley. You can still see parts of the ladder they used, embedded in the rock today.
- Climbing Devils Tower is becoming more and more popular and is now climbed by about 4,000 visitors per year.