Jul 24

Red Beds Trail: Devils Tower

Red Beds TrailsRed Beds Trail is one of two trails that circumnavigate Devils Tower.  The first is the Tower Trail which is at the base of rock monolith and goes for about a mile.  The Red Beds Trail is a 2.8 mile loop that provides swing outs in a wider arc from the base providing a little bit of a different perspective on the tower.  Both trailheads start in the same location and though the Tower Trail is shorter and gives a little bit more bang for its scenic buck, the Red Beds Trail provides a little bit more solitude.  We recommend doing both if time and hiking ability allows it.  If you are short on time or have a hard time walking uphill then take the shorter and more level Tower Trail.  Devils Tower is a must see if you are ever in the northeastern part of Wyoming.Red Beds TrailheadThe trail will start you through a ponderosa pine forest, which at the time we were there seems to be suffering from the same plight that seems to be attacking most of the pine forest in the west, the mountain pine beetle.  Though some of the trees are turning brown it is still a scenic area and enjoy this part of the hike because this is the only real section that is completely shaded.  This is also a good area to view some of the wildflowers and wildlife that call this area home.Devils TowerA little under a mile in the ponderosa forest will give way to open meadow which provides the good views of the tower.  We were there in the early part of June and the wildflowers were just starting to bloom.  This area is also the first set of switchbacks.  Fortunately this time they are heading down unfortunately you will have to head back up eventually.On the TrailAt first we were a little confused at why they called it the Red Beds Trail considering the first half of the trail is either in a forested area or in a meadow.  We found out how it got its namesake on the second half of the hike. The meadow will suddenly turn into deep red clay and sand that makes for a dramatic and scenic shift in the landscape.  Karen and I felt this was a good place to stop and rest for a bit and soak in the view.  Though you cannot see Devils Tower during the middle section of the hike the red badland like formations offer interesting views.Red BedsThe last part of the Red Beds Trail is up a series of switchbacks in an old burnt area of the park.  This is the steepest area of the park though the elevation change is not too bad, but if you are not used to hiking at a higher elevation or if it is hot out then this will be the most difficult part of the hike.  The trail will eventually head back up to the parking lot and visitor center.  Though it is a short hike at 2.8 miles make sure you bring some water with you especially for the backside of the hike when you are in direct sunlight.Red Beds Trail MapRed Beds Trail
2.8 miles
Easy to Moderate
1.5 to 3 hours
For more information on hiking the red beds trail visit http://www.nps.gov/deto/index.htm


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  1. freda

    How can this be, right out in the middle of nowhere.? And so gigantic.

    1. Kenny and Karen

      Pretty awe-inspiring place!

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