Half-Day Hike at Devil’s Tower

The middle of nowhere perfectly describes the location of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming – and there is nothing wrong with nowhere.

Rising from the earth suddenly, Devil’s Tower becomes visible from miles away as you drive into the Park. There isn’t much else on the horizon – a few ranches or farms, a handful of tree groves –  but otherwise just wide expanses of rolling grasslands and prairie surround the 1,267 feet tall monolith.

Despite visiting Wyoming many, many times in the last three decades, this small National Monument in the northeast corner of the state eluded my park checklist until a road trip last year with friends from Oregon to North Dakota. 

Featuring a handful of short hikes, the park provides a good opportunity to get out and explore for 3-4 hours for the average visitor passing through the area. For those more adventurous, you can stay a few days and rock climb this iconic tower.

During my visit, I hiked the 4-mile Red Beds loop trail for views of this giant from all angles. An easy to moderate trail, the path had occasional patches of rock and a few short steeper sections.

Like a geological collage, the trail passed through various formations including stunning cliffs of red and yellow siltstone and sandstone, interbedded with gray shale or limestone and white gypsum. While a colorful passage, the true showstopper of the trail at all times was Devil’s Tower, which shifted and changed ever-so-slightly as I completed the 360.

Formed of a rare igneous rock, phonolite porphyry, Devil’s Tower is the largest example of columnar jointing in the world. The science and theories of its creation are interesting to consider as you traverse the landscape, but it’s the feeling of the area that holds the most weight. Looking up, the hundreds of parallel cracks draw your eyes to the heavens and remind you of the sacred nature of this unique location.


Published by Kelsey Ivey

An avid traveler and hiker, Kelsey is a freelance writer and professional explorer.

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