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Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower behind the American Flag

In July of 2021, my sister and I jumped into her car and took a 3-week drive! We had a general idea of the locations we wanted to visit, but we didn’t make any advance reservations because we didn’t want to be slaves to the calendar. At this point in our journey, we had been staying in Hill City, SD for a few days, and now we are headed west. Our next stop is Devils Tower National Monument.

Hiking Trails

Devils Tower National Monument with the sun directly over it
Devils Tower with Sun

Devils Tower National Monument has two walking trails that go around the base of the Tower. We saved the 3-mile option for you, and we chose the shorter, 1-mile loop which was completely paved! It was actually easy enough to hike in flipflop sandals but I would recommend something more substantial, like hiking shoes!

Have you ever hiked either of these trails? Please tell me about your visit in the comment section below.

Gift Shops at the Gate

Hands in the shape of a heart with Devils Tower behind
Heart over Bear Lodge

At the base of Devils Tower, near the entrance, there are two gift shops. One of them is associated with the KOA campground and is mostly camping-focused, while the Devils Tower Trading Post is a traditional gift shop offering t-shirts, coffee mugs, and jewelry. There’s even an ice cream shop!

National Parks are Free to Veterans

A close up of the columns that make up the tower
Close up of Devils Tower

Since my previous National Parks Pass had expired, I was prepared to purchase another one at $80/yr.  At $25 per visit, it would only take 4 visits for the pass to pay for itself. So it was an easy justification.

As I tried to pass my credit card to the attendant, she held it and asked, “Is anybody in the vehicle a veteran?”  To which I replied, “Well yes! I am a veteran!” and produced my ID.

She took it, paired it with my credit card, and held them both in plain sight while she said: “There is no charge for you or the people in your vehicle. It’s something the prior administration did, was to make all National Parks free to veterans!”

Sweet! Thank you, President Trump!

Folklore and Controversy

An image of a huge bear climbing the side of the mountain (looks like a huge tree stump) It has a flat (sawn?) top.
How the Tower Came To Be

The folklore surrounding Devils Tower National Monument goes something like this: Two young boys were taking a hike when a giant bear with claws the size of trees began hunting them. The boys prayed for help, and the rock grew towards the sky with the two boys safely on top of it.

The controversy involves the fact that some people don’t believe the official story.  You see, the official story from the National Parks Service says “Devils Tower is a stock—a small intrusive body formed by magma, which cooled underground and was later exposed by erosion”. 

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They continue, “The concept of erosion exposing the Tower is common to all of its modern formation theories. Ironically, the erosion which exposed the Tower also erased the evidence needed to determine which theory of Devils Tower’s formation is the correct one.”

Really? The erosion which exposed the tower….erased the evidence? Translation: “You’ll never know the truth!”

On the left is an image of Devils Tower. On the right is an image of a tree stump. They look a lot alike!
(L) Devils Tower and (R) a tree stump.

Meanwhile, and here’s the real controversy, doesn’t it look like a tree? I mean, just use your eyes. I’m not convinced either way, but my curiosity is piqued!  What’s YOUR opinion?

Along the Way

Along the way, we stopped at a few places and had some fun. We had lunch at a gift shop/restaurant. And in their bar, was a pair of curious barstools that made us look like big-bottom girls! 

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So far, our 3 week journey has been quite amusing!  Our next stop is The Great Salt Lake.  But it will take a couple of days to get there, because we’ve gotta drive through the state of Wyoming! Ready? Let’s go!

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