RV planning guide to Devils tower national monument

Devils Tower National Monument (RV Planning Guide)

RVing through northern Wyoming wouldn’t be complete without exploring Devils Tower National Monument.

The best way to make your visit to this natural wonder the most enjoyable is to plan ahead, which is why I put together this RV Guide to Devil’s Tower National Monument.

Inside, you’ll learn what sites and activities at the monument and surrounding area are worth checking out, which RV parks and campgrounds are nearby, and get tips and tricks from other RVers about the ideal months and time of day to visit.

Planning is key to smooth RV trips, so stay here to learn how to have the best experience when you visit Devil’s Tower National Monument!

What is Devils Tower National Monument?

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower (also called Bear Lodge Butte) is an igneous rock formation located in the Bear Lodge Ranger District of the Black Hills, near Sundance and Hulett in Crook County, Wyoming.

The tower rises 1,267 feet over the Belle Fourche River and rises 867 feet from the base to the summit, 5,112 feet above sea level.

The tower has always been a sacred place for many Native American tribes from the area, and the location was a gathering point for annual ceremonies.

President Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the first US National Monument in 1906. The awe-inspiring land formation was a draw for rock climbers and sightseers for decades before and since its official designation as part of the National Park Service.

Things to Do in Devils Tower National Monument

Taking an RV trip to Devils Tower is a must-do adventure for outdoor enthusiasts.

ROCK CLIMBING DEVILS TOWER

Rock climbing is the number one draw to the tower, as you are allowed access as long as you follow all the rules and regulations set forth by the park.

For climbers with experience, you can register at the climbing kiosk before you start so they can document your departure time and plans. Then, when you return from your climb, you need to return to the kiosk to check out so they know you made a safe return.

If you want to try a climb but have no experience, you can sign up for guided climbs or rock climbing lessons in the National Monument.

The park does not allow rock climbing during certain times of the year, generally in late spring, when birds like the Prairie and Peregrine falcons are nesting. You can learn more about Devils Tower rock climbing by visiting the national monument website.

HIKING DEVILS TOWER

Hiking is an encouraged activity in the park, with different well-marked trails you can enjoy.

The most popular trail runs 1.3 miles around the base of the Devils Tower and is paved to make the trek more manageable, especially for those who may need to use a wheelchair or mobility scooter.

EXPERT TIP: Due to limited parking at the visitor center and the popularity of the Devils Tower trail hike, it’s best to plan to arrive on a weekday before 10 am or after 3 pm to avoid the crowds.

EXPERT ADVICE: You’ll notice small bundles or cloths attached to the trees along the Tower trail. Please do not touch, disturb, or photograph these items as they are Native American prayer cloths representing the spiritual connection between tribes and the Tower.

There are also four unpaved hiking trails to enjoy, but park rangers suggest wearing sturdy hiking shoes or boots to avoid injury.

Other scenic trails at Devils Tower National Monument are:

Joyner Ridge Trail

A Joyner ridge trail

The Joyner Ridge Trail follows the north boundary of the park in a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) loop trail. The terrain rises and dips, making it a more strenuous hike.

You can access the trailhead off the dirt road from the main park road leading to the visitor center parking lot.

This trail offers scenic views of the Tower, prairie, and wildlife.

Red Beds Trail

The Red Beds Trail is a great mid-length hike that traverses all types of terrain, with some areas very steep.

The 2.8-mile looping trail offers Tower views and the open expanse of the Belle Fourche River valley, and the myriad of natural rock and land formations that lie within.

You can access this trail directly from the visitor center parking lot and connections off the other park trails.

South Side Trail

The South Side Trail is a scant 0.6-mile (1 km) trail that roams from the amphitheater through the “prairie dog town.”

The trail combines with the Red Beds Trail if you wish to extend your hike.

TIP: Elevation rises after you cross the park road, with the climb moderate to steep on the physical exertion scale, so prepare yourself.

Valley View Trail

A Valley view trail

The Valley View Trail is another 0.6-mile trail and is the flattest and least strenuous hike in Devils Tower park.

This trail will take you through the prairie dog town and offers scenic views of the Belle Fourche River and local wildlife.

You access the trailhead from the amphitheater, and the trail ends up connecting to the Red Beds Trail.

Another tip is to take a ranger-guided hiking tour if this is your first visit to learn the most about the landscape and park.

No pets are allowed on the Devils Tower National Monument trails, so keep that in mind when planning your day out from your RV campground.

CULTURAL EXHIBITS AT DEVILS TOWER

The Circle of Sacred Smoke sculpture represents the first puff from a new pipe, and through this “circle of smoke,” you can see the Tower.

Inside the visitor center, you can also find exhibits that explain the natural and cultural history of the park, so you can better understand the Tower and its surroundings.

DEVILS TOWER RANGER PROGRAMS

Ranger programs typically run from Memorial Day through Labor Day, with some programs in September. Times and availability vary, so always peek at the online event calendar for the time of your visit to see what’s happening.

Programs range from short talks near the visitor center to more extended evening events held at the amphitheater. Rangers also give guided hikes and have telescopes to use for astronomy programs and night sky viewing.

Having kids participate in the Junior Rangers Program will teach them more about the park, local wildlife, and native plants. Kids 5-12 can get a jump on earning a badge by printing out a PDF version of the program and working through it during your travel to the park.

You can also pick up a Junior Ranger book (and the badge) from the visitor center once you arrive. After completing a set number of activities in the program, kids earn a badge. Both the book and badge are free.

Planning Tips for Visiting Devils Tower National Monument

A couple planning a trip to the Devils tower

Time Visits to Avoid Crowds

Try to plan your visit to Devils Tower on weekdays to avoid the large weekend crowds that make trails and picnics areas hard to navigate and enjoy.

Early morning and late afternoon hours are the ideal times for the least amount of crowds and offer a better array of bird watching and wildlife spotting as animals prefer to hide out midday when temperatures are the hottest.

Peak tourist season is May through August, which you should also consider if you want to experience the Tower and trails with fewer distractions.

Consider Entrance Fee Costs

Fees to enter Devils Tower National Monument are currently $25 for a single non-commercial vehicle and $20 for a motorcycle (with a passenger) for 1-7 days.

The entrance fee for a person 16 years or older on foot or riding a bicycle is $15.00 for 1-7 days.

Kids 15 and under enter free to Devils Tower. In addition, US armed service veterans and Gold Star dependents also get free admission to the park.

You can make your entry to the park quicker by visiting Recreation.gov and purchasing your entry ticket before you arrive.

MONEY SAVING TIPS: If you plan to make a return trip through the area, consider purchasing the $45 annual pass, which will save you $5 on your second visit, and much more if you stop by more often.

Devils Tower is part of the Interagency Pass Program, so if you already have a National Park Annual Pass, you don’t need to pay to enter the park.

Another option is to visit around the fee-free days listed on their website. Do expect crowds to be a bit higher on these days, especially those that fall during the summer months.

Know the Rules for RV Parking, Camping, and Driving Within Devils Tower

An RV camping near the Devils tower

You can enter the park in your motorhome or travel trailer and pay the non-commercial vehicle entrance fee, but you can only drive on the road that circles the Tower if your camper is 19-feet long or shorter.

If your RV is over 19-feet in length, you can pull into the RV parking lot and unhook your camping trailer to make the drive, or leave your 19-foot-plus Class A or Class C motorhome and walk the Tower Trail instead.

The campground within Devils Tower allows RVs up to 35-feet long. If your camper is longer, you’ll need to book a campsite at an RV park outside the Devils Tower National Monument boundaries.

Take Advantage of Devils Tower Visiting Hours

The Devils Tower National Monument is open for guests 24 hours a day, all year long.

This perk allows you to see the Tower and surrounding landscape at all times of the day and night, so you can catch glimpses of various wildlife or spend the evening stargazing.

The landscape changes with the seasons, making for an interesting trip during different times of the year.

Being in the park to witness sunrises and sunsets is another spectacular way to take advantage of the full-access hours.

Pack Food for Your Devils Tower Visit

There are no restaurants or food sold within Devils Tower, so plan to pack in meals or snacks if planning to stay for the day. However, you have access to water at the visitor center to replenish your drinks.

If you want to eat before or after your visit to the park, you can stop at the KOA campground or Devils Tower Trading Post, which are both located just outside the park’s entrance gates and have food, along with ice cream and souvenirs.

Don’t Miss the Devils Tower Visitor Center

A visitor center in the Sun road

The historical visitor center at Devils Tower was built in 1935 out of ponderosa pine logs and remains the hub of information and ranger programs within the park.

The visitor center is open year-round from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, except for specific holiday closures.

2021 summer hours show the center closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but this may change for 2022.

The Devils Tower visitor center offers:

  • Restrooms and water fountain
  • Interpretive exhibits that explain park culture, history, and geology
  • Park maps and local trip planning information
  • Bookstore with gifts and souvenirs
  • Ranger-led activities
  • Trailhead for Red Beds Trail
  • Car and RV/Bus parking lot

RV Parks and Campgrounds in or Near Devils Tower National Monument

If you plan to camp in the Devils Tower area, there are plenty of choices of RV parks and campgrounds, from primitive to full-hook-up facilities.

Devils Tower Belle Fourche Campground

A Devils tower campground

The Belle Fourche Campground is the place to RV or tent camp within Devils Tower National Monument boundaries and gives you spectacular views of the park.

The campground offers 46 campsites for $20 nightly and is open from May 15 through October 15. The campground will only accept RVs under 35-feet, but pets on a 6-foot leash are welcome.

The campground does not offer shower houses or RV electricity and sewer hookups. In addition, potable water, flushing toilets, and trash collection are only available seasonally.

You cannot make reservations for this campground, as it works on a first-come, first-served platform, with a 14 day limit on occupancy.

Quiet hours run from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am, but the park allows generator use from 8 am to 8 pm.

TIP: You’ll have the most difficulty snagging a campsite during June through September, so for the best chances of finding an open spot, try to get there just at noon daily checkout time.

At other times, the campground will most likely have open spots available up to about 6:00 pm each day. However, as the summer heat can make RV camping unbearable without a generator to run the air conditioner, it’s much nicer to plan a trip during the cooler (and less crowded) months anyway.

Devils Tower Belle Fourche River Campground (Video)

Devils Tower / Black Hills KOA Journey

Enjoy Tower views from the Devils Tower/Black Hills KOA Journey campground just outside the national monument gates and along the Belle Fourche River.

The campground has 97 RV sites, plus tenting and cabin rentals.

The park boasts a pool, camp store, cafe, laundry, Wi-Fi, fishing, post office, and more for a relaxing and comfortable camping experience.

Daily rates range from $60-$90 for a full-hookup campsite.

Devils Tower KOA (Video)

Devils Tower View RV Park

The Devils Tower View RV Park is three miles from the Tower and delivers stunning views and friendly park staff.

The campground is open year-round and offers 13 RV sites with full hookups with 30-amp and 50-amp service.

The park offers a restaurant and a gift shop full of local Wyoming artwork. The restrooms and showers are clean and well-kept, and the location is peaceful.

Daily rates range between $40-$47 for full-hookup RV campsites, with lower rates for electric-only connections.

Keyhole State Park

The Keyhole State Park in Moorehead, Wyoming, is a great alternative to enjoy Devils Tower along with other local sights. The park boasts ten campgrounds and 286 RV (30-amp), and tent sites open all year, so booking a spot isn’t difficult.

The campground is 17 miles from the Tower and offers electrical and water hookups, restrooms, and showers. The dump station is open until November, weather permitting.

The park offers a full range of outdoor activities and amenities and is worth the extra drive to reach Devils Tower.

Daily rates are $15 for residents and $25 for out-of-state guests for the campsites, with a $7 park entry fee. In addition, those staying at the Tatanka Campground have to pay an extra amenities fee.

Keyhole State Park (Video)

Other Must-Do Attractions Near Devils Tower National Monument

Before you leave the Devils Tower area, take time to enjoy these nearby attractions:

  • Devils Tower Trading Post
  • Rogue’s Gallery in Hulett, WY
  • Hulette Museum
  • Ponderosa Cafe in Hulett
  • Devils Tower Gulch restaurant and bar
  • Mt. Rushmore is a two-hour drive southeast

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Final Thoughts

Visiting Devils Tower National Monument by RV will create wonderful memories of wide-open night skies and majestic landscapes to explore during the day.

I hope you put this planning guide to Devils Tower to good use, to help avoid problems when visiting the Tower and other local attractions.

When you want your RV trips to run smoothly, proper planning is the key to success!

QUOTE:
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide

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