Red Beds Trail
ElevationAscent: 472' 144 m
Descent: -457' -139 m
High: 4,298' 1,310 m
Low: 3,902' 1,189 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)
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“A trail through beautiful ecosystems that offers far more than just views of Devils Tower.”— Michael Blake 22
As you leave the trailhead, you'll wander through thinning ponderosa pine forest with views of the tower to your left. The trail passes through an open area and begins to contour the hillside around to the east. At this point, views to the south of the Black Hills, the Belle Fourche River and its associated floodplain are marvelous. The trail now begins a continuous descent of the south-facing aspect through meadows and occasional stands of ponderosa.
At about the 0.75 mile mark, you'll come to a junction with South Side Trail. This trail descends the hillside very steeply and leads to the Belle Fourche Campground. Continuing past this junction, you'll soon come to another intersection, this time with Valley View Trail. The Valley View Trail descends to the river a little more gradually before also leading to the campground. After passing this junction, it's pretty much all uphill back to the trailhead.
Continuing along the trail, you'll soon come to some beautiful red badlands. This geologic formation is a marvel in and of itself and is this trail's namesake. Geo-curious visitors may find this area as intriguing as the tower itself. Once you've had a chance to take in the sights here, continue past a junction with the Joyner Ridge - Red Beds Connector at mile 1.6 and begin the steep ascent back into the forest. You'll have good views of the tower as you ascend until you enter the denser forest.
Once in the forest, keep an eye out for all sorts of wildlife - this is one of the best places in the park to encounter some of the park's original inhabitants. The final three-quarters of a mile of the trail meander and undulate through dense forest all the way back to the trailhead.
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Land Manager: NPS - Devils Tower National Monument