Climbing Information

 

On This Page Navigation

 
A climber uses the crack between columns to scale the walls of the Tower
Crack climbing is a specialized technique used on many routes at Devils Tower

NPS photo / Lucas Barth

Climbing

Hundreds of parallel cracks divide Devils Tower into large hexagonal columns. These features make it one of the finest traditional crack climbing areas in North America. The cracks vary in length and width: some are wide enough to fit your entire body, others barely have room for your fingers; the longest crack extends nearly 400 feet upwards.

Technical difficulty ratings range from 5.7 to 5.13; many modern climbers consider the oldest routes (Durrance and Wiessner) harder than their original ratings. The majority of routes at the Tower are not bolt protected and require the appropriate selection of camming devices or other temporary anchors. The few bolted face climbs that exist were established in the 1980s and 1990s; the condition of some bolts reflect that era.

Regulations

  • Register before your climb at the climbing kiosk located at the head for the Tower Trail (visitor center parking area). Complete the left side of the card and keep the right side to deposit after your climb. Registration is a legal requirement for all persons planning to climb or scramble above the boulder field. Failure to obtain a permit is subject to citation and fine. This mandatory registration is free and in the best interests of you and the climbing community: it ensures climber safety, documents use of the Tower as a climbing resource, and becomes part of a historical database that has been maintained since 1937.
  • Observe posted route closures; visit the Current Climbing Closure page.
  • Do not leave gear on the Tower (including ropes, cams, stoppers, etc.).
  • No camping/bivouacking on the Tower (camp in the designated campground).
  • Pets are not allowed on the Tower or the trails - only in developed areas.
  • Chipping or gluing holds, gardening, excessive route cleaning, drilling or installing permanent gear are all prohibited.

The park employs climbing rangers, generally from late spring to early fall. If you have any questions, you may contact the climbing office by phone at (307) 467-5283 x632.

 
 

Know Before You Go

  • Your safety is your responsibility. In the event of an emergency, remain calm and attempt to call 911 or yell down to the Tower Trail. Assistance from local resources and monument staff may be available, though rescue is not certain.
  • Check the local weather forecast before climbing and observe changing weather conditions. Summer days can bring hot temperatures, and the rock of the Tower can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Storm systems develop quickly in the Black Hills. Lightning, rain, hail, slippery surfaces, and hypothermia are possible during storms.
  • Park in the lower/gravel lot of the visitor center parking lot. This lot provides more shade for cars parked all day and allows short-term visitors more parking in the upper/paved lot.
  • Watch for animals (stinging insects, birds, rodents and reptiles all live on the Tower). Temporary route closure due to nesting falcons is typical each spring in order to protect nesting prairie and peregrine falcons. Routes will be reopened when no nesting activity is observed and/or falcons fledge. Check for route closures when you register at the climbing kiosk or visit the Current Climbing Closure page.
  • Routes are typically long and sustained in grade. Technical rock climbing equipment is required to safely climb at Devils Tower National Monument. Consult multiple sources for information on a route, as suggested gear varies between guidebooks.
  • The majority of climbing accidents and deaths on the Tower occur during the rappel. The National Park Service does not maintain anchors - inspect all anchors and back them up if necessary. Ensure you know the location of your rappel route before you begin. Start rappels over the nose of columns to prevent ropes from jamming in cracks. Avoid knocking loose rock onto climbers below. Many rappels require two ropes; know the distance of your planned rappel before beginning.
  • Climbing helmets are strongly recommended due to frequent rock falls. Significant hazards should be reported to a ranger in the climbing office or visitor center.
 

Climbing Management Plan

The Climbing Management Plan (CMP) for Devils Tower National Monument was released in February 1995. This plan provides direction for climbing activities at Devils Tower to protect the natural and cultural resources of the park.

A Climbing Management Plan Update was completed in 2006. The CMP Update clarifies points related to climber education, safety standards and climbing access routes. This update also continues the June voluntary climbing closure (see below).

Regulations are essential to protect the natural environment, the heritage and culture of American Indians, climbers, and the general public. The park asks all climbers to act responsibly by knowing and adhering to park regulations. The 1995 Climbing Management Plan and the 2006 CMP Update are available for the public.

 

June Voluntary Climbing Closure

American Indians have regarded the Tower as a sacred site long before climbers found their way to the area. As visitation increased and climbing became more popular, American Indian people have expressed concerns about recreational climbing at the Tower. Some perceive climbing on the Tower as a desecration to their sacred site.

A key element of the Climbing Management Plan is the June Voluntary Climbing Closure; this is a compromise reached during development of the CMP by a workgroup that included representatives from climbing and American Indian communities. The National Park Service advocates this closure to promote understanding and encourage respect for the culture of American Indian tribes associated with the Tower. June is a culturally significant time when many (but not all) Indian ceremonies occur. Although voluntary, this closure has been very successful - resulting in a significant reduction in the number of climbers during June. The voluntary nature of the closure hinges on minimizing climbing during this period.

Throughout June, the park asks visitors to voluntarily refrain from climbing on the Tower or scrambling inside of the Tower Trail loop. Please consider the closure when planning a climbing trip to Devils Tower. Alternative climbing areas are located within 100 miles of Devils Tower National Monument. The park also encourages you to use resources such as the Mountain Project to locate other climbing destinations. The Access Fund, a national climbing organization, fully supports the voluntary closure and the park's CMP.

 

Commercial Guide Services

Several climbing guide companies hold permits for operating at Devils Tower National Monument. You may contact the park or search the internet for more information. When using a commercial guide service, make certain the company has a valid permit for guiding climbs at Devils Tower.

 

Last updated: November 2, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 10
Devils Tower, WY 82714

Phone:

(307) 467-5283 x635
Devils Tower National Monument Visitor Center Phone Number

Contact Us