Devils Tower Climbers

Since the mid 90’s, Devils Tower has urged climbers to not climb the face of the iconic tower during the month of June.

Black Hills Fox’s Jon Wilson took a trip to the tower today, and explains what it means, and why it’s done.

It is an important cultural site for a lot of indigenous people. There are 26 tribes that are associated with the tower.

Every year, people come from all over the world to visit the nation’s first national monument. But for one month during the year, you see many less climbers scaling the sides of the tower.

"The decision to make the closure in June voluntary was decided in 1995 as a collaboration between the Park Service, tribal leaders, the climbing community, and state operators,” said Rosa Tran, a climbing ranger.

"Devils Tower National Monument has a voluntary climbing closure during the month of June, and that's out of respect to American Indian cultures that view this as a culturally important, or sacred site to their beliefs and history. June was chosen because it coincides with a lot of important traditional summer ceremonies. For instance, the summer solstice occurs towards the end of the month, the longest day of the year. Probably one of the most well-known ceremonies that happens during this time is the Sundance,” said Joe Bruce, an Education Technician.

Many people choose to comply with the voluntary closure, and the number of climbers is hundreds less than the other popular summer months.
But over the years, that number has slowly decreased.
Since they realized looking at the data that there’s been an increase over the last ten years of climbers in June, then in 1995, when the Climbing Management Plan was implemented. The tribes definitely see that increase as a negative.
Even with an increase, the reduction in climbers during the month of June is noticeable.
The popular Tower Trail and everything within the monument still runs just like any other month.

But out of respect for all the tribes who place high cultural and spiritual importance on Devils Tower, you may notice a few less climbers if you stop by during the month of June.