We headed out in the morning to visit Devils Tower National Monument in northwest Wyoming. While it ended up being a cold and rainy day, with lots of fog, we were still able to do two hikes and get some great views of the tower.
Our first look at Devils Tower was from Wyoming State Highway 24. It was raining on and off for our entire drive so we weren’t sure what to expect. We were able to see the tower in the distance as we approached, though it wasn’t very clear with low clouds moving by.
The weather improved as we got closer. By the time we entered the national monument, there was blue sky visible! Things were looking good!
Joyner Ridge Trail
We started the day with the Joyner Ridge Trail, a 1.5 mile loop that starts off of a short unpaved road near the visitor center.
The trail slowly ascends along a ridge with fantastic views of Devils Tower to the south. The sky was already starting to get cloudy again when we arrived. It progressively got darker and darker as the clouds rolled in. But it did not rain and we were able to mostly see the tower in its entirety.
The texture on the bark of one of the typical trees atop the ridge.
The very eastern end, and highest point, of the trail had great long distance views to the east. Immediately after this view, the trail descends steeply back down into a small valley (technically a draw).
We heard quite a few birds while we were down in the valley. They were mostly high up in the trees and incredibly hard to find. After a long time, we were able to locate this Black-Capped Chickadee. Basically the same bird as the Carolina Chickadees that we have back home.
We also briefly spotted this White-Breasted Nuthatch, a species that we do have at home though we don’t see them very often.
The valley was rather wet with quite a bit of water on the trail, causing parts of it to be a bit muddy. It was also dense with foliage, very different from the more open forest up above. There weren’t very many views of the tower due to all the trees.
When we eventually emerged from the forest, it started to rain. We could still see the tower though!
The last portion of the trail ascended slowly back to the parking area through a meadow. It was a bit wet in places, luckily we were wearing waterproof hiking boots! We saw a few American Robins hunting for worms as we hiked. They flew away once we got close and seemed to spook more easily than their suburban relatives back home.
Afterwards, we headed over to the visitor center to hike the Tower Trail. Unfortunately, we heard a bit of thunder and it was pouring! We were able to get a little bit of cell reception and decided to wait out the rain after reading the forecast. We started on the trail once the rain calmed down a bit.
The tower’s appearance varied greatly depending upon where we were viewing it from as well as what the weather was doing at the time. Unfortunately it continued to rain for most of our hike though it did eventually stop near the end.
The area immediately around the tower is covered with boulders, particularly near the start of the trail. These boulders are from pieces that broke off the tower before recorded history.
Portions of the trail had sweeping views of the landscape away from the tower.
The trail is completely paved, very nice when walking in rain! No mud!
Prairie Dog Town
There is a large prairie dog town to the southeast of the tower next to the park road. We didn’t see too many prairie dogs due to the weather.
Some of the prairie dogs were huge!
This one was eating a stalk of grass.
There were also Black-Billed Magpies hunting in the prairie dog town.