Devils Tower National Monument
Destination: Devils Tower, Wyoming
Accessibility Scale: 9.0/10
Devils Tower National monument stands 867 feet to the summit from the base. The tower stands out among the flat surrounding areas, and is considered sacred by many Native American Plains tribes. The tower holds a long history, as it was the first declared United States National Monument, established on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt.
How does the first national monument stack up in terms of accessibility for the visually impaired visitor? The Short Answer is Great, the long answer follows.
Visitor Note: If you are permanently disabled, you may qualify for the America the Beautiful Access Pass, which offers free access to all national parks. If you qualify, you can get your pass at any front gate to the park or by mail. Here is a link for further information on this pass program: Link
Navigating the park
I stopped at Devils Tower National Monument during a road trip through Wyoming. Our final destination on this trip was the historic town of Deadwood, South Dakota, but we decided to stop at the tower since it is such a special and spiritual place. In terms of things to do, options are fairly limited, and unless you plan to climb the tower (you will need a permit) or camp in the nearby campgrounds, this is just a short stop type place. The National Park Service have gone to great lengths to ensure that the park is accessible for all persons with disabilities. There is a 1.3 mile path around the tower which is not recommended for wheelchair access, as it has many areas that are steep. From the perspective of a visually impaired guest, I had little issue navigating the path around the monument – even the steeper areas were not difficult. I utilized sighted guide and white cane travel throughout. I would consider this an easy route for the most part in terms of difficulty.
Almost all National Parks offer large-print and/or braille versions of the maps and other visitor information, and Devils Tower National Monument is no exception. The materials are readily available at the visitors center.
It is worth stopping at the Devils Tower National Monument just for the nostalgia associated with the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The tower was prominently featured in that move as the location the aliens chose to visit earth.
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