Forrest Gump Monument Valley filming locations. The main reason most people come to southern Utah!

At least, finding the Forrest Gump filming locations was one of the main reasons I went to southern Utah.

My mom and I had just finished up in Page, Arizona and needed to head to Mancos, Colorado, so when I found out that the exact location Forrest gave up on his cross country run and decided to go home was on our way, I was ecstatic.

forrest gump monument valley filming locations

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a sacred (and gorgeous!) place that deserves a visit on any southwest road trip, so even if you think you’d just like to stop by Forrest Gump Point, try to budget an extra two or three hours to take it all in.

Here’s all you need to know about the movie magic in the area:

The Forrest Gump Monument Valley Filming Locations

forrest gump monument valley filming locations

Finding the Forrest Gump filming locations in Monument Valley is actually really easy. While the buttes look amazing up close, to find the perspective that’s in the movie, you want to be heading North on Highway 163 towards Mexican Hat, Utah.

If you type “Forrest Gump Point” into Google Maps, it will lead you to a spot on the highway that has a small dirt turnaround off the right side of the road (when facing North) so you can park your car.

There is usually a small crowd of people there, so as you approach the area make sure to drive slowly!

For some reason, Apple Maps and Waze were both not able to locate “Forrest Gump Point,” so make sure to have Google Maps downloaded before you head out.

Staying Safe at Forrest Gump Point

forrest gump monument valley filming locations

Much like Abbey Road in London (where the iconic photo of the Beatles was taken), Highway 163 is very much a real road and tourists have to kind of risk their lives to recreate an iconic shot. So be careful!

The speed limit on the highway is about 60MPH and the photo point in on the top of a small crest.

Because of this, you can see the cars coming from far enough away to safely clear the road for them, but it’s still a good ideas to have a dedicated lookout person, just in case.

Top Tips for Forrest Gump Monument Valley Locations

  • Time of Day

forrest gump monument valley filming locations

I’ve heard that early in the morning is the best time to go for photos because of the light in the area, but I went in the middle of the afternoon (and it was actually kind of cloudy out as well) and my photos turned out fine, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

Just arrive when it’s convenient for you (but obviously before dark lols).

  • Crowds

For such a remote location, the Forrest Gump Monument Valley locations are actually quite popular. There were probably about 15 – 20 other people there wanting to take photos when I visited, but the nice thing is that there are plenty of different angels and perspectives to choose from, so it’s quite easy to get a shot without anyone else in it.

The group of tourists there were also very willing to wait patiently for their turn for the perfect photo, so if you have a particular vision in mind,  just be kind and you’ll have your turn.

  • The Forrest Gump Sign 

forrest gump monument valley filming locations

If you would like to take a photo with the Forrest Gump Sign as well, stand with your back to the buttes at Forrest Gump Point. About 500 feet up on your left you will see a small structure that local Navajo tradesmen sometimes use to sell their work. It may or may not be occupied, but the sign is right in front of it.

With your back to the buttes, you can’t see the engraving on it and it kind of just looked like a blank piece of wood, but once you get over to it, you’ll see the inscription.

forrest gump monument valley filming locations

  • Run, Forrest! Run!

What’s the point of even going if you don’t yell this to the other people there at least once?

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When my sister Kerry asked me to be her maid of honor, I knew I had to throw the most bangin bachelorette party of all time.

But, since she doesn’t really drink, the typical Vegas girls trip was not going to work. So I started looking for fun bachelorette party ideas for non-drinkers. The key to a great dry bachelorette party isn’t necessarily a city that doesn’t have any nightlife, just a city that has plenty to do during the day.

7 Fun Bachelorette Party Ideas for Non-Drinkers

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You have to find your bridal party’s niche: culture, nature, or classic. It’s also worth it to consider fly time for your bride’s base location.

Because of this, I’ve picked cities all over the USA, so you have plenty to pick from.

“Nature” Fun Bachelorette Party Ideas for Non-Drinkers

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

best time to visit Mount Rushmore best time to visit mt rushmore

My sister and I at Mount Rushmore. She’s rockin her “bride to be” sash.

I took my sister to Mount Rushmore and the surrounding Black Hills attractions for her bachelorette party in 2016. We LOVED it. There’s so much to do, from pretending to pick the noses of the presidents on the mountain, trying not to get attacked by rogue billy goats, and hikes — hikes galore.

If your bride (or bridesmaids!) like hikes, animals, National Treasure, or American History, a trip to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills should be perfect.

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The Grand Canyon, Arizona

If anyone in your bridal party likes hiking, or taking selfies in wide brim hats next to a natural wonder of the world, then a road trip to the Grand Canyon is a great idea for your group. It’s also about a four hour drive from Vegas, so if your group is a partier / non-partier mix, it’s possible to appease both types of people within one trip.

“Culture” Fun Bachelorette Party Ideas for Non-Drinkers

Washington, DC

New Location Hungarian Embassy DC

With some girlfriends at the Hungarian Embassy in DC.

Washington, DC has the best museums in the USA, if not the world. The National Gallery of Art, the Air and Space Museum, the Ford Theater (where Lincoln was assassinated), Newseum, and more.

If your bride likes to make art history Snapchats, learn about Spaceships, or even just stroll along the National Mall with an eye out for Captain America, Washington DC is the perfect place for your party.

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Boston, Massachusetts

MFA Boston Snow

Snow Day at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

I’m partial to Boston because I went to school in Western Mass and spent a lot of town in the city.

Boston is America’s London:  politically important and culturally significant. It’s perfect for a sober girls trip because you can spend the day wandering the Freedom Trail, chowing down on Clam Chowder, or taking in a game at Fenway.

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Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis or Nashville? How To Plan Your Tennesse Vacation

Memphis is the first place I ever went on a solo trip, so it has a special place in my heart. It’s also a good dry alternative to the “Nashvegas” bachelorette parties which seem to be becoming more and more popular. Memphis is more about the soul of rock n’ roll: how it came to be and the legend it left behind.

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“Classic” Bachelorette Party Ideas for Non-Drinkers

Orlando, Florida

Orlando is the ultimate classic girls trip! Whether your bride is more interested in posing with Cinderella’s Castle or riding the Hulk at Universal Island of Adventure, Orlando has everything you could need for a dry bachelorette party. The adrenaline rush from  your first ride on the Dueling Dragons at Harry Potter World will stay with you all day!

New York City

New York City is the perfect trip for anyone! Whether your bridal party is into museums or manicures, parks or pub crawls, NYC has something at you all can do. You can divide an conquer or alternate the kinds of activities you do each day. It almost feels like a cop out to include NYC on this list of Fun Bachelorette Party Ideas for Non-Drinkers, because it’s such a given, but I had to put it forward, just in case.

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This post is a part of my Black Hills Road Trip Series 

The Mission of Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians.

The looming and luminous Crazy Horse Memorial is both the companion and antithesis of nearby Mount Rushmore. Both are impressive monuments blasted into stone and meant to stand for a thousand years, yet Crazy Horse celebrates the pride and culture of America’s native peoples, while Mount Rushmore memorializes the prosperity of a colonized nation.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

A mantra seen often around the monument.

Mount Rushmore was built with government money and continues to be federally funded, while Crazy Horse operates on the generosity of benefactors and tourist entrance fees.

Some might balk at the “steep” pricing structure, but they should quickly be reminded of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski’s promise to “never get into bed with the Federal Government”

Current Crazy Horse Memorial Pricing Structure 

$30.00 per car – more than 2 people

$24.00 – 2 people in car

$12.00 – 1 person in car

$7.00 – per person on a motorcycle

$7.00– per person on a bicycle

Free – Children 6 and Under + Active Military + Native Americans

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Visiting Crazy Horse from Mount Rushmore

It’s a quick 30 minute drive from Mount Rushmore to Crazy Horse, so most tourists to the Black Hills area choose to see both monuments in one day.

The two also complement each other well in terms of history and cultural experience, as the more time you spend in the Black Hills, the more it seems like a waste to come all this way and not learn about its original inhabitants.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Posing as Crazy Horse. The white sculpture is what the finished project will look like. The quote on the bottom reads “My lands are where my dead lie buried” – Crazy Horse.

Things To Do at Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

How long should you spend at Crazy Horse? Because of the price tag and all the things to do, you should plan to spend about two to three hours at Crazy Horse.

You should start by paying the extra fee for the tour down into the construction zone. It’s only $4.00, so a great value to get up close and personal with the monument and get the inside scoop on the carving process and how things are progressing.

My sister and I visited at the beginning of spring, so we were the only two people on the tour. During the summer, it’s often packed, but that won’t make it less valuable.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Inside one of the museums at Crazy Horse, you have the opportunity to take a home a rock that has been blasted off the mountain for a small donation.

My sister and I traveled “carry-on only” to the Black Hills, but she still took one and managed to get it home. Just goes to show how strict the TSA requirements are, when you can somehow board a plane with a giant rock in your bag.

I am glad she took one though, as we now have a part of  Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota history with us at home.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

The Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota is also home to the Indian Museum of North America®, the Native American Education and Cultural Center®, as well as the original home and studio of the sculptor, Korczak, and his family. The breadth of knowledge and history on display here is worth the admission fee alone.

You can learn about the culture and lifestyle of many different Native American tribes through their clothing, art, religious relics, dish ware, weapons, and construction materials. It’s a deep look at the “everyday” histories that are often glossed over during formal education.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

What the Crazy Horse campus will look like once completed.

Be sure to set aside some time to simply stop and admire the mountain.

To use your imagination and think about how majestic it will look once Crazy Horse is finally finished being carved. How special and important the area will be to all Americans as we make an effort to remember all parts of our history.

Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

The History of Crazy Horse + Why It’s Important To Visit

Crazy Horse was a war leader for the Oglala Lakota tribe. He attempted to fight off the U.S. Federal government as the young nation spread rapidly westward, bulldozing the culture and nearly annihilating the native peoples that got in the way. He fought to protect the legacy of his people, the Lakota.

Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

He is most famous for two battles: the Fetterman Fight (21 December 1866) and the Battle of the Little Bighorn (25–26 June 1876). He eventually surrendered to U.S. troops under General Crook in May 1877, but was fatally wounded by a military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson which is in present-day Nebraska. 

In 1931, while Mount Rushmore construction was under way, Henry Standing Bear, an Oglala Lakota chief, commissioned  Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to build the Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota. This is because Standing Bear’s brother had written to Gutzon Borglum, the lead sculptor of Mount Rushmore, to request Crazy Horse be added, but he never heard back.

Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Standing Bear is quoted as exclaiming, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.”

Once finished, the Crazy Horse campus will be even more of a hub for Native American cultural education and enrichment, including a satellite campus of the University of South Dakota.

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A Mount Rushmore vacation is an American rite of passage and great introduction to the country for foreign tourists.

You get a good dose of American history as the “beautiful for spacious skies” you hear so much about. My Black Hills road trip was one of the best adventures I’ve had, so I put this itinerary together to help others make the most of the area.

best time to visit Mount Rushmore best time to visit mt rushmore

Quick Facts about Planning a Mount Rushmore Vacation

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This itinerary is based out of Rapid City, South Dakota because it’s centrally located to all the attractions in the Black Hills region. It’s also home of Rapid City Regional Airport, which is where most travelers will start their Mount Rushmore vacation.

things to do in Rapid city South Dakota Berlin Wall Memorial Dinosaur Park Presidents

The activities on each day are grouped by geographic proximity. So if you’d like to do day 3’s activities on day 4, it would work — but you shouldn’t mix activities from different days because they would be too far apart.

You should never spend more than 2ish hours in the car with this itinerary.

  • Where To Stay in Rapid City

My sister and I stayed at the historic Hotel Alex Johnson in Downtown Rapid City. It’s where Hitchcock stayed when he was in the area for North by Northwest filming AND it’s allegedly haunted. If you visit the Black Hills during the off season, you are likely to get a great deal on this beautiful hotel.

If not, or you prefer to rough it, there are plenty of reputable chain hotels in the area, like Best Western, La Quinta, etc.

MOUNT RUSHMORE VACATION BLACK HILLS ROAD TRIP hotel alex johnson

  • Places To Eat in Rapid City

Black Hills Bagels (closes 3pm daily)

913 Mt. Rushmore Road

Rapid City, SD 57701

Wobbly Bobby (opens 3pm daily)

510 Main Street 

Rapid City, SD 57701

  • Where To Rent a Car in Rapid City 

If you fly in, you’ll definitly need to rent a car to properly experience the Black Hills. It’s best to pick up your rental car from Rapid City Regional Airport, so you can spend as much time exploring as possible and then drop it off right before you fly back out.

If your flight arrives late at night, consider returning to the airport via your hotel’s shuttle in the morning to save on rental fees, as odd pickup hours tend to drive up the rental price.

Day 1: Arrive in Rapid City and Get Settled

things to do in Rapid city South Dakota Presidents Sculptures

Whether you’re on a Mount Rushmore road trip or flying into Rapid City, odds are you will arrive in town in the late afternoon or evening simply due to the time is takes to make the trek. I recommend spending your first evening settling into your hotel, gearing up for the fun you’ll be having, and exploring downtown Rapid City.

You could even watch a movie filmed in the area!

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Day 2: Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse

You should get an early start to Mount Rushmore, stopping at Black Hills Bagels on the way for a spot of breakfast.

The drive from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore takes about 30 minutes. Plan to arrive no later than 10:00AM.

best time to visit Mount Rushmore best time to visit mt rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

13000 South Dakota 244

Keystone, SD 57751

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Plan to eat lunch at the Carver’s Cafe at Mount Rushmore, leaving around 1:00PM. Next up is Crazy Horse! The drive takes about 30 minutes, putting your arrival at about 1:30PM

Things To Do Near Mount Rushmore Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse Memorial

12151 Avenue of the Chiefs

Crazy Horse, SD 57730

After your time at Crazy Horse, you can head on back to Rapid City for a nice dinner and some R&R before your next full day or return to Mount Rushmore for the nightly lighting ceremony.

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Day 3: Badlands National Park and Minuteman Missile Silos

Things to do in the badlands how to get to the badlands

Another early start! Plan to leave your hotel again between 8:00AM and 8:30AM, as it’s a solid one hour drive to Badlands National Park from Rapid City

Ben Reifel Vistors Center 

25216 Ben Reifel Road

Interior, SD 57750

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Minuteman Missile Site

You don’t want to miss out on the Minuteman Missile tour! While you can look at the Delta-09 silo without a reservation, if you want to go down into the Delta-01 launch facility, you’ll need a reservation.

Tours run Thursday through Monday at 1:15PM and 2:00PM. The tour typically lasts about 30 minutes and because of limited space, accommodates six people and one Park Ranger. You should reserve your spot ASAP, up to three months in advancehere.

Minuteman Missile Site South Dakota

Unfortunately, no same day reservations are allowed. You don’t want to miss out, so book now!

If “day 3” of your Mount Rushmore Vacation happens to be a Tuesday or Wednesday when no tours are offered, just swap out today’s activities with a different day.

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As you can see, Badlands National Park and the Minuteman Missile Silos form a nice “loop” with the highway. Depending on your time of arrival and the pace at which your progress through the Badlands, you might have to do a little back tracking to see everything.

Things To Do Near Mount Rushmore Wall Drug

Be sure to stop at Wall Drug General Store on the way back to Rapid City for some good food and a fun souvenir.

Day 4: Devils Tower National Monument and the Geographic Center of the Nation

Belle Fourche South Dakota: The Geographic Center of the United States

It’s about an 80 minute drive from Rapid City to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, home of the geographic center of the United Sates. It used to be in Kansas, but then Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union and things shifted.

Geographic Center of the Nation Monument

415 5th Avene

Belle Fourche, SD 57717

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You can spend anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes in Belle Fourche, depending on whether the museum at the monument is open. Then head to Devils Tower.

Devils Tower is a geological wonder heavily featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and regional Native American tradition, so it’s a can’t miss!

Devils Tower National Monument

149 State Highway 110

Devils Tower, WY 82714

how to get to devils tower national monument Wyoming

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Devils Tower is also conveniently close to the Montanan border, so if you’d like to check Big Sky Country off the list on your Mount Rushmore Vacation, it’s easy to take a route back to Rapid City that cuts through the corner of Montana.

MOUNT RUSHMORE VACATION BLACK HILLS ROAD TRIP hotel

just call me Hannah cause I’m in Montana

Day 5: Jewel Cave National Monument and Reptile Gardens

The last day of your Mount Rushmore vacation should go out with a bang! The bang of bacon-looking rocks and lots of reptiles.

Things To Do Near Mount Rushmore Jewel Cave

Start the day by making the 70 minute drive to Jewel Cave National Monument, southwest of Rapid City. Set your GPS to Custer, South Dakota and from there, follow Highway 16 West. There are signs for the monument’s entrance along the road.

If needed, here are the exact coordinates:

594270, 4842528 (UTM NAD 83)

Latitude / Longitude:

43 43′ 46.6153″ N

103 49′ 46.6522″ W

You’ll want to head that way quite early as its a popular destination, you can’t reserve tickets ahead of time, and tours tend to fill up fast. Try to arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of the day’s first tour if you want to minimize the time you have wait around for your slot.

You don’t want to miss the bacon rocks!

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On the way back into town, stop into Reptile Gardens! It’s got an impressive menagerie of snakes, frogs, turtles, and birds. There’s even a Bond Girl crocodile. It’s the perfect place for a little family bonding over your shared love (or hatred) of snakes!

Reptile Gardens South Dakota Things to do in Rapid City

Reptile Gardens South Dakota

8955 US-16

Rapid City, SD 57702

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That’s a wrap on your Mount Rushmore vacation! Time to hit the road home or head to the airport for your flight home.

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This post is a part of my Black Hills Road Trip Series 

Devils Tower National Monument is a geographic and historic wonder nestled in the Bear Lodge Mountains of northeastern Wyoming, an extension of the Black Hills. It makes a great day trip from Rapid City, South Dakota and many who choose to visit the region for Mount Rushmore also explore Devils Tower.

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How To Get to Devils Tower

Things To Do Near Mount Rushmore Devils Tower

Devils Tower National Monument is located in northeastern Wyoming. The entrance to the park is 33 miles northeast of Moorcroft, Wyoming and 27 miles northwest of Sundance, Wyoming.

Most navigation apps will pick up the location by simply typing in the monument’s name, but if you are having trouble, you can enter

149 State Highway 110
Devils Tower, WY 82714

It’s only about a 90 minute drive from Rapid City, South Dakota to Devils Tower, making it an excellent day trip option.

Quick tip: make sure to stop in Belle Fourche, South Dakota on the drive over. It’s the geographic center of the United States! 

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Quick Tips for Devils Tower

how to get to devils tower national monument wyoming

It’s best to visit in the spring or fall, when the weather is cooler and the crowds aren’t as large. If you visit during the summer, get there early, as parking is often completely full for a few hours a day.

The park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but the visitor’s center has more restricted hours. It is open daily from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, with the exception of being closed December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 1st.

It is currently $20.00 per vehicle to enter the park.

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Why Is Devils Tower Important?

how to get to devils tower national monument Wyoming

Devils Tower National Monument was the very first National Monument in the United States, designated as such by President Teddy Roosevelt on September 24, 1906.

The name “Devil’s Tower” originated from an 1875 expedition when an interpreter misunderstood a Native name to mean “Bad God’s Tower.” However, it’s now referred to as simply “Devils Tower” because apparently the geographic naming standard indicates that all apostrophes should be eliminated

So as much as it’s killing me to write it without one, “Devils Tower” is the correct name.

But many don’t think so.

Long before it was a National Monument, the mountain and surrounding area was sacred to many Native Americans. For 10 years, from 2005 to 2015, there was a campaign to rename the monument Bear Lodge National Historic Landmark in recognition of its original discovery and meaning. Unfortunately, unlike the campaign that changed Mount McKinley’s name to Denali, this one failed…so far.

Why Bear Lodge National Historic Landmark, you may ask? Well, for the name of the mountains surrounding it. But there’s history behind that, too…

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The Legend of Devils Tower

how to get to devils tower national monument Wyoming

There are a few variations on the legend of how Devils Tower came to be.

The Kiowa and the Lakota tribes say the one day, when a group of little girls were playing on the plains, a group of giant bears began to chase them. The girls were terrified and climbed on top of a rock to try and get away from the bears, but the rock was not high enough to keep them safe. So, they cried out to the gods for protection.

The Great Spirit heard them and made the rock grow into a tall mountain, whisking the girls away from the bears, who didn’t give up and tried to climb the new mountain, their claws leaving deep gashes in the sides. The mountain eventually grew to touch the sky and the girls became the Pleiades constellation.

The Sioux believe that when two small boys wandered away from the village, Mato, a huge bear, began to chase them because he wanted to eat them for breakfast. His claws were the size of tipi poles, so the boys were terrified and prayed to Wakan Tanka the Creator for help. He heard them, raising them on a rock for protection. But Mato was very hungry, so he persisted, his huge claws leaving scratches on every side of the mountain. He eventually gave up, and the wise eagle, Wanblee, helped the boys back to their village.

Bottom line: Children in distress. Pursued by a giant bear. Saved by the gods.

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Things To Do at Devils Tower

how to get to devils tower national monument Wyoming

Devils Tower is all about nature: hiking, camping, and climbing. Of the 400,000 visitors a year, only 1% choose to climb to the top. If that’s you, congratulations! If not, there’s still plenty to see and do.

Stop by the visitor’s center for more information on the geographic, cultural, and historic context of Devils Tower before hiking the one-mile loop around the base of the monument.

There are plenty of places to stop, rest, and enjoy the view of Devils Tower and surrounding valleys, so plan to take at least an hour, if not 90 minutes for the hike.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was also filmed in the area, so keep an eye out for aliens as well.

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