Devils Tower National Monument, or Bear’s Lodge as it’s known by Indigenous people, is an iconic landmark, and one of the best places for climbing in the USA. Standing out in the surrounding prairie, Bear’s Lodge forms a prominent shadow across the vast open grassland. The first recorded ascent by two local ranchers in 1893 involved pounding large, wooden pegs into the cracks, some of which are still visible today. The history of climbing the formation is storied with interesting ascents and even a parachute landing on top, resulting in the individual being stranded on the summit in the cold for six days.
These days, Durrance, Walt Bailey, Soler, and Hollywood and Vine are some of the more popular routes. Routes from 5.6-5.8 are generally wide or offwidth in nature, while 5.9-5.10 are more hand sizes and 5.10+ start thin ranging to finger sizes. Though I have not been to Devils Tower, my clients and friends who have, talk about the feature like it’s a piece of climbing history that cannot be missed. Standing on the summit once is a must. Climbing a crack in all of the sizes gives you a great flavor of the tower.
Things to know before climbing Devils Tower
To top it off, a stay at the Devils Tower Lodge is the way to go! Frank Sanders, owner of the Lodge holds the spirit and history of the tower in his great storytelling. It should be noted, the month of June is a sacred month at the Tower for Native Americans. A voluntary climbing moratorium is in place and while it is by choice, I highly encourage everyone to recognize this tradition as climbing the Devils Tower area is a privilege. We should recognize that we are not the only group who sees the power of the Tower! There is also an annual closure for nesting falcons. To learn more about Devils Tower closures, visit the National Parks Service website.