It's about a five-hour drive from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Devils Tower National Monument in northeast Wyoming. You've seen it in pictures. You've seen it in movies. Seeing it in person is highly suggested.

It all sounds so spooky: Devils Tower in the Black Hills. As someone who has visited the natural wonder, I can tell you that it is a little unnerving to see it up close. Having grown up in the '70s and '80s, though, with "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," I had to do it.

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A friend and I stopped at the tower on our way back from a trip to Montana. Making the tower a part of our return trip only detoured us a little bit, so we decided Devils Tower was worth it. I'm very glad that we rerouted. I would have regretted not taking advantage of the opportunity. I loved it so much that I'm definitely going to revisit the Wyoming destination.

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I can't tell you how it feels driving to the monument from Colorado, but it was suspenseful and amazing arriving from the north. I'm sure it's very much the same coming up from Colorado.

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The road winds through hills, obstructing your view of the upcoming massive "mountain;" then, it hits you: There it is! You feel goosebumps forming along your arms. It's very cool.

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I was surprised to see the slot. I didn't know that the slot existed. It almost makes the tower spookier.

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When you get to the national monument park, there is a little shop right before the gate. You'll get out to stretch your legs after the drive, maybe pop in for some tourist stuff and a soda. Then, you pay for your vehicle pass (we paid $25 for a one-day pass), and you continue up to the official visitors center and Devils Tower National Monument.

Maybe you already knew, but I didn't, that it is not Devil's Tower (with the possessive "S") but Devils Tower (as in plural). One thing you may not be aware of is that it was known as Bear Lodge before an Army colonel started calling it "Devil's Tower" around 1875. Bureaucrats took the possessive out of the name (and mountain names across the West); they don't like apostrophes.

The Native American tribes in the area told the legend of a giant bear scratching its claws into the mountain.

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You'll see buses of school kids out for field trips; you'll see people with bikes ready to take on one of the many trails; you may see someone getting ready to climb the tower, which is one of the main reasons many people come to the monument.

The visitors center there at the Devils Tower park is its own attraction as dates back to the early 1900s. There's much history in there, along with creaky floors.

MORE: Planning Your Trip from Fort Collins to Devils Tower

Maybe you'll approach the tower with caution like I did. Perhaps I was just awestruck by it; it was kind of surreal. Then you'll walk up really close to it, to at the very least, just take it in.

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There are more than a few trails that you can check out, including one that's only 1.5 miles around the base of the tower. We just didn't have time for that on the day we stopped. I do regret that.

A couple of things you have to do when you visit Devils Tower in Wyoming:

  • After you pass through the gate, stop and check out Prairie Dog Village. It's very cute.
  • After your visit, grab a bite at Devils Tower Gulch, a restaurant just outside of the park. It has a back deck with a great view of the tower.
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With it being five hours away, you could, in theory, make it a day trip. Up early, back late kind of a day. Like I said, It is totally worth every penny.

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