South Dakota's Black Hills: Tearing across the Bottom and Scaling to the Top

Home to hundreds of abandoned mines and ghost towns, South Dakota's Black Hills offer a playground for off-road adventures. Old mine trails crisscross the area, and most of the 1.25 million acres of public land in the Black Hills is open to off-roading, including much of the Black Hills National Forest. You can also visit the famed Homestake Mine, the single largest producer of gold in the world over the past century. But don't think the Black Hills contain nothing but ghost towns and mining centers. The Black Hills offer excellent camping, fishing, and hunting in many unspoiled and uncrowded parks and wilderness areas. The most popular spots are Sheridan Lake, Deerfield Lake, and Pactola Reservoir. In winter, the Black Hills become a haven for snowmobiling as well.
And if you're anxious to take in the glories of South Dakota from above the ground, rather then racing across it, you're in luck. Just a few miles southwest of Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in Custer State Park you'll find four of the best rock climbing sites in the world, all within a mile or two of each other. The Needles has the strongest reputation among serious climbers but nearby Sylvan Lake, Cathedral Spires, and Devils Tower boast equally challenging climbs and more solitude. With over six hundred quality climbs ranging from multiple pitch routes, sport climbs, and even free traditional crack climbs, this area is loaded with options for intermediate to advanced climbers.

Practically Speaking
Trail maps and general information can be obtained from the Black Hills National Forest Headquarters, RR2, Box 200, Custer, SD 57730. There are a number of rock climbing resources throughout the Black Hills area, many highly credible, offering both day-long and multi-day excursions.

Published: 9 May 2001 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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