Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming…
We are so incredibly blessed to be able to travel with our family during the winter. This fall, after leaving our home state of Montana, we took our time getting down to Texas, where we spent much of December. On our way south, we stopped at a few National Parks; NPs are kind of our ‘thing’. We are trying to stop at as many National Parks as we can; at each park the kids complete the educational Jr. Ranger program, and collect the badges they earn as we go (they are small and don’t weigh much at all!). So far, we have been to over 6 dozen of our NPs!
This past fall, we came south out of Billings via I-90, and spent the night in Gillette, WY (we like short driving days!). We decided that we couldn’t be so close to Devil’s Tower, located in the upmost NE corner of WY, and not take the opportunity to check it off our long list of parks still to visit! It was about an hour drive (each way) from Gillette. On the way out there, one of the littles asked what it was; so hubby, who was eager to get south, said, “it’s a big rock sticking out of the ground”. Excitement was oozing out of their very beings, let me tell you.
Thank goodness it was short lived! LOL! The tower is visible from miles away, and as we got closer, the beauty of the area and the monument, piqued their interest. We ended up loving the area, and the park!
Devil’s Tower stands approx. 970 feet, from base to top. The area surrounding the base is covered in large boulders, and the park service has created a paved walkway, just below the boulder field, that loops around the entire base of the tower. The loop is 1.3 miles, and it is easy walking – it is not level, but we took a stroller around it without any problems. The park also has several other walking trails if you like to get out and explore!
We learned all sorts of interesting facts about Devil’s Tower – the kids’ favorite was a story about a man named George Hopkins, who, in 1941, parachuted onto the top of the monument to prove that he could hit ‘the impossible target’. Mr. Hopkins must have been so intent on planning for the stunt that he did not make arrangements for after landing; he was stuck on the top of the monument (which is about the size of a football field) for 6 days before he was rescued!
Even though it isn’t listing on the NPS website, Devil’s Tower does indeed have a Jr. Ranger program. My kiddos earned their badges after completing the activities and walking around the base of the tower (walking the entire loop is not mandatory). We also bought them Jr. Ranger patches for $1 each; the patches can only be purchased if you earned the badges. We prefer patches since my littles are forever losing or breaking their plastic badges.
Devil’s Tower is open 365 days a year, unless the weather is severe. If you enjoy photography, winter is one of the prime times to visit the tower as the snow makes for beautiful landscape pictures!
While we stayed in Gillette, and did not take our 5er out to the monument as we weren’t sure what the roads would be like, there is a nice KOA located at the entrance to the park, which is right below the monument itself. There is also a National Park campground located near just inside the park entrance.
Did you know that you can also search for nearby campgrounds (or campgrounds anywhere for that matter) via Woodall’s Campground Directory
? Search via nearby city (in this case, Moorcroft, WY), and easily find nearby campgrounds. The easy to maneuver campground listings page includes a map for easy visualization of how close parks are to your destination, the Woodall’s 5 star rating system, links to the campground websites (if available), and other details about the listed parks.
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