Explore what you can do in the Black Hills!
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♦ Landmarks ♦ Trails ♦ Lakes ♦ Fishing ♦ Scenic Drives
♦ Rock Climbing ♦ Camping ♦ Events ♦ Hunting ♦ Winter Activities
Landmarks in the Black Hills
Mt. Rushmore National Memorial
Mt. Rushmore is a national iconic landmark where the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are carved in the granite face of a mountain in the southern Black Hills.
While you are visiting the Memorial take time to walk on the various trails around the monument. The Presidential trail is a 1/2 mile loop trail that takes your past the base of Mount Rushmore, offer a close-up view of the carvings. It then goes down into the Sculptor's Studio, where you can find fascinating information about Gutzon Borglum. During the summer months there is a Sculptor-in-Residence Program held in the Studio.
During the summer months there are also various ranger held talks at the monument including a Junior Ranger Program for ages 5 -12, a Rushmore Ranger program for ages 13 and up, and a Lakota History and Culture talk.
A nice way to round out your visit is to stay for the Evening Lighting Ceremony which is held in the Amphitheater May through August at 9 p.m., during September the ceremony begins at 8 p.m. The rest of the year it is lighted at dusk with an official ceremony.
Jewel Cave National Monument
At over 150 miles, Jewel Cave is the second longest cave in the world and is continuously being added to. On February 27, 2010 another 3,032.65 feet of passages were mapped. The largest room discovered in Jewel Cave is called the Big Duh. It measures 570 feet long, is 180 feet wide at its widest point, and is 30 feet tall. It is called Jewel cave because it is filled with calcite crystals, nailhead and dogtooth spar crystals, and other wonders that make up the "jewels" of Jewel Cave National Monument. You’ll also find other formations such as draperies, flowstone and stalactites.
The Visitor Center and surface trails are open daily. The Visitor Center is closed on Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1st. In the event of inclement weather, please call ahead. Hours of operation are subject to change during severe weather. There is no charge to use the surface trails.
Jewel Cave offers a variety of tours of varying degrees of length and difficulties. All cave tours are ranger-guided and require a minimum of 2 visitors. Tickets are required to enter the cave, and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Cave tours frequently sell out. Therefore, the wait time for a tour, without reservations, could be a few hours or even the next day, so please call ahead. Cave tour tickets can be purchased up to seven days in advance of your visit. In order to purchase tickets over the phone, you must speak with a representative and have a major credit card. Please call 1-605-673-8300 between 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time.
The main Visitor Center and cave entrance is thirteen miles west of Custer, South Dakota on Rt. 16, 24 miles east of Newcastle, Wyoming on Rt. 15, and 54 miles from Rapid City, South Dakota via Rt. 16-385.
Wind Cave National Park
One of the world's longest and most complex caves, Wind Cave National Park is well know for its outstanding display of boxwork, a rare formation composed of thin calcite fins which look like honeycombs. There are five tours available ranging in length from one to four hours. Reservations are required on the Candlelight Tour and the Wild Cave Tour. Although reservations are not required on the other tours please keep in mind that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the busiest, and that early morning hours are the least busiest.
The cave is not the only feature of this park. Above ground are 28,295 acres of mixed grass prairie and pine forests filled with wildlife such as bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, and prairie dogs. You can explore the park on its 30 miles of trails. For more information please go go our TRAILS
Wind Cave Visitor Center is located 11 miles north of Hot Springs. It is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. all year except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. During the summer the Visitor Center hours are expanded.
Black Elk Wilderness Area
Black Elk Wilderness Area lies in the heart of the Black Hills and has a total of 13,426 acres. It is surrounded by the Peter Norbeck Preserve. Black Elk Wilderness is an incredibly beautiful area of towering granite columns, refreshing mountain streams and a forest thick with pine, spruce, and aspen trees. Many varieties of wildlife such as mule deer, elk, pronghorn, mountain goats, big horn sheep, and mountain lions make this area their home.
Please also see TRAILS.
Custer State Park
Custer State Park was originally a State Game and Forest Preserve, but in 1912 the Governor at that time, Peter Norbeck had a dream to create a large state park where wildlife native to the area could flourish. He fulfilled his dream by transforming the preserve into Custer State Park where visitors would also now find overnight lodging, camping and scenic drives. Many of the original buildings are still in place with modern updates added.
Custer State Park encompasses over 71,000 acres of scenic beauty including 7.242 foot Harney Peak, four lakes, an extensive trail system, five scenic drives, nine campgrounds, three group campgrounds, four lodges with hotel rooms, cabins, restaurants, and shopping available.
One of the main attractions at Custer State Park is its herd of 1,500 buffalo who thrive in this ideal setting. Every year in September a big round-up is held and the entire herd is gathered together and put into corrals so they can be tested, vaccinated, and branded. To keep the herd at a manageable number the excess bison are then kept in the corrals until October when they auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Buffalo are not the only wildlife you'll find here. Custer State Park is also home to white-tailed and mule deer, mountain goats, pronghorns, big horn sheep, elk, coyotes, prairie dogs, mountain lions, and a very friendly herd of burros.
For more on what to do in Custer State Park, please visit our pages on TRAILS, SCENIC DRIVES, LAKES, ROCK CLIMBING and CAMPING.
Bear Butte State Park
Bear Butte State Park is located just outside of Sturgis, South Dakota on South Dakota Hwy. 79. Bear Butte and the Visitor Center are are on side of the road and Bear Butte Lake and campground are on the other side.
Bear Butte is actually the remains of an ancient volcano that never erupted. Campsites have been found around the Butte that are over 4000 years old. Smoke signals were sent from the summit of which were seen for miles around. Bear Butte is said to have received its name because from a distance it looks like a sleeping bear. Over fifteen different tribes of American Indians still come here to fast, pray, seek visions and give offerings. Please show your respect for them by staying on the trail and not disturbing them, or their offerings.
Please see also TRAILS, LAKES, and CAMPING.
D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Spearfish City Park
Spearfish City Park is a huge park located right in the town of Spearfish. Spearfish Creek meanders the length of the park allowing kids, dogs, and fishermen to take advantage of the cool refreshing water. The park also offers tennis courts, a volleyball court, covered picnic shelters, open picnic tables, a kid's playland, a paved bike path, exercise stations, and lots of open room to run or just lay in the grass under the big shade trees.
Adjacent to the park is the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery. It was created in 1868 to raise fish for area lakes and streams. Today it still raises fish for the area, but it also serves as a museum to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of fisheries.
The display ponds where the largest fish are held are always a favorite for visitors. There is also an underwater viewing area, and a gift shop where you can purchase food to feed the fish. The kids will enjoy throwing the food out and watching the fish and ducks race for it.
Included among the exhibits are the 1899 fish hatchery building that now contains exhibits chronicling the history of fisheries management, the Yellowstone Boat #39 that was used to collect trout eggs from Yellowstone Lake, and the Fishries Railcar Exhibit that allows you to walk through and learn how fish were transported by train throughout the country.
The Booth House was built in 1904 and contains furnishings from this era. It is the only building that charges admission for its guided tours.
There are also several hiking trails that rise above the hatchery to historic sites and provide beautiful views of the hatchery grounds and surrounding areas.