Climbing Devils Tower: An Iconic Objective

Devils Tower is a volcanic plug in northeastern Wyoming and one of the most iconic geological formations in the country.  It has been of great cultural importance to indigenous people in the region for a very long time and it was also the first National Monument established in the United States.  Today, Devils Tower draws over half a million visitors per year, including thousands of climbers looking to summit this awe-inspiring formation that towers over the Black Hills.  

Devils Tower National Monument

Climbing Devils Tower is a crowning achievement for many climbers because of the technical, challenging, yet rewarding nature of scaling its steep walls.  There is no “easy” route up the Tower, but with the right training and guidance an ascent of Devils Tower is within reach for people of many backgrounds and experience levels.  Climbing Devils Tower requires a specific technique called crack climbing, where instead of climbing features on the rock face the climber wedges their hands and feet into vertical cracks between columns of rock in order to move upward.  The Tower has limited bolt protection so knowledge and competency in using traditional climbing protection is critical for staying safe.

The summit of Devils Tower

Our approach to guiding at Devils Tower is to facilitate safe, supportive, and highly enjoyable experiences for anyone wishing to climb the Tower.   Our staff of certified guides are experts at their craft as well as kind, patient, and relatable people that will take great care of you during your climb.  For those with limited experience climbing, we prefer to spend 1-2 days of course time learning proper crack climbing technique and building competency in traditional climbing safety systems before making a summit attempt.  And for more experienced climbers we offer fully customized climbing experiences that suit each person’s individual objectives.  Whether you’re new to climbing or you’re a seasoned climber wanting to push yourself to new heights, our job is to mitigate risk, prioritize your goals, and to do our best to set you up for success.

Climbing Devils Tower at a glance:

Type of climbing:

Multipitch trad climbing

Difficulty of climbing:

All levels – Beginner through advanced with lots of moderates for developing climbers

Styles of climbing:

Splitter hand and finger cracks, offwidths, stemming, and techy face climbs

Best season(s) to climb:

Spring, summer and fall

Best time of day to climb:

Morning and afternoon

Accommodations available:

BnBs, lodges, and developed campsites

Other activities in the area:

Hiking, sight-seeing, trail running, rodeo, fishing

Guided rock climbing programs available at Devils Tower:

Our favorite routes to climb on Devils Tower:

The Durrance Route

The Durrance Route (5.7+) – The Durrance Route is one of the 50 Classic Rock Climbs of North America and a must-do if it’s your first time climbing on Devils Tower.  The Durrance is the most direct line from base to summit on the south face of the Tower and features seven pitches of varied and interesting climbing.  Although it is one of the most moderate routes on the Tower, the climbing on the Durrance is both physically and technically demanding, involving hand jamming, offwidth climbing, stemming, and face climbing.

El Cracko Diablo

El Cracko Diablo (5.8) – El Cracko Diablo is a classic splitter hand-fist crack that makes for one of the most enjoyable and efficient ways to summit Devils Tower.  El Cracko is accessed via a ledge system on the southeast face fo the Tower.  The route proper consists of two pitches of enduro hand and fist jamming with a short offwidth crux 2/3 of the way through the second pitch.  El Cracko finishes at the Meadows and from there it’s only one more pitch of low angle but fun and very exposed climbing to the summit.

Walt Bailey Memorial
  • Walt Bailey Memorial (5.9) – We’d argue that Walt Bailey Memorial has one of the best pitches of 5.9 crack climbing anywhere.  A short approach pitch leads to a large belay ledge at the base of the second pitch.  The second pitch of Walt Bailey consists of climbing a fun flake up to a thin finger crack that gradually widens to hands at the top of the pitch.  This five star pitch has it all – incredible positioning, excellent movement, bomber rock, and is great for practicing your jams in a variety of finger and hand sizes.
McCarthy West Face Variant
  • McCarthy West Face Variant (5.10b) – This is one of our favorite climbs on the west face of Devils Tower, which is really saying something because the west face has such a high concentration of incredible routes.  The first pitch involves techy thin crack climbing past two steep sectios up to a small belay ledge.  The second pitch pulls a small roof over the belay that leads to an excellent enduro hand crack that seems to go on forever.

Resources for planning your trip to Devils Tower:

Contact Us:

Interested in climbing with us at Devils Tower? Send us an email with your name, email address, and brief description of what you’re looking for.

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