Joyner Ridge Trail

Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Trip Date: Tuesday, September 18th, 2018
Last Updated: Thursday, November 1st, 2018
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 1.5 miles roundtrip
Time 1 hour
Terrain Hilly
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly No
Accessible No

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

In my opinion, the Joyner Ridge Trail has the best view of Devils Tower. Unlike the Tower Trail and Red Beds Trail which closely circle the tower, Joyner Ridge is a distance away at a higher elevation. Not only is the location perfect for a view, the surrounding scenery perfectly encapsulates the regional environment, with a grassy prairie foreground, ponderosa pine in the middle, and the monolithic granite tower in the background. Even if you don't feel able to complete the entire hike, you can still enjoy this view mere steps away from the parking lot.

While the trail is technically a loop, it was designed to be done clockwise; if you go counter-clockwise, there will be a steep climb halfway through. Follow the trail that goes straight and flat heading east on the ridge rather than the other direction heading downhill at an angle. Almost immediately, you will see the perfect view of Devils Tower pictured below.

Joyner Ridge gives the best views of Devils Tower from a distance

Joyner Ridge gives the best views of Devils Tower from a distance

As you continue hiking, the trail winds through the pine forest with sporadic views of the tower to the right. Occasionally, a clearing will yield an unobstructed view, like pictured below, with a slightly different angle of the tower.
Devils Tower rises above the pine forest

Devils Tower rises above the pine forest

About halfway through the hike, you'll start a steep descent into the ravine below. The trail is rocky with a few steps, so take your time going down. It is much easier to go down this section than to ascend it, hence why the loop is done clockwise. Once you enter the shady forest on the bottom (pictured below), it will be noticeably cooler.
The increased rainwater and shade caused by the ravine makes this part of the trail lush

The increased rainwater and shade caused by the ravine makes this part of the trail lush

There is also a greater variety of plants here as compared to high on the ridge thanks to the flow of water and shade created by the ravine walls. The trail will ascend gradually, almost unnoticeable in places, and the trees will thin the higher you climb, revealing the small flowers pictured below.
Little flowers appear as the forest thins

Little flowers appear as the forest thins

The last portion of the hike is through open grassland, pictured below. This is the only unshaded portion of the hike, and luckily it's the last part before you can cool down in an air conditioned vehicle!
The open grassland on the final stretch of the hike in the late afternoon sun

The open grassland on the final stretch of the hike in the late afternoon sun

On your next visit to Devils Tower, definitely hike the Joyner Ridge Trail. The views are much nicer and you won't have to deal with hordes of tourists while trying to enjoy the scenery. Let me know what you think in the comments section below, and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

Important Information

Like most national parks, dogs are not allowed on any trails in the park. This trail is steeper and more difficult than the other trails in the park, but its short distance and fewer people mean this is still a family friendly hike. You can visit Devils Tower any day of the year, just be prepared for hot temperatures in summer and cold and snow in winter. This is the least traveled trail in the park, so you can escape the crowds and enjoy the tower at your own pace with moments of peace and quiet.

Directions

From Interstate 90 in Sundance, take the exit for U.S. Highway 14 and head west. Follow signs to Devils Tower, and from the right lane, merge onto Wyoming Highway 24. Turn left onto Wyoming Highway 110, and enter the park. Pay the entrance fee, and turn left onto the dirt road signed for the Joyner Ridge Trailhead.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Park entrance fees are $20 per vehicle for a 1-7 day pass. An annual pass for Devils Tower National Monument is $40 (only good at this park), or you can purchase the Interagency Pass which is good at all national parks and more for $80. Note that all entrance fees stated will increase by $5 starting January 1, 2019. More information available on the park's website. This trailhead does not have any facilities, but the visitor center further down the main park road has restrooms, water, information, and a gift shop.

External Links

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