The Black Hills National Forest covers more than 1.25 million acres in southwestern South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is in this forest, and Wind Cave National Park lies directly to its west. It forms the northern and western edge of Custer State Park. The Black Hills National Forest is a terrific place to go fishing, with over 1,300 miles of streams and 11 reservoirs. There are also over 353 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. You may want to start your visit at the Pactola Visitors Center at the Pactola Dam near Rapid City, South Dakota, or the Black Hills Visitor Information Center located off I-90 at Exit 61.
The remoteness of Black Hills National Forest makes it a great place to go RVing. You will not waste precious time driving somewhere to stay that may not be convenient. If you do not have an RV, it is simple to rent one on RVshare.com. That way, you are covered with 24/7 roadside assistance if anything happens,
Camping sites at Deerfield Reservoir Complex near Hill City, South Dakota, are divided into three separate areas. There are two boat launches allowing you to put a vessel on the water easily. You will love the spacious picnic areas at this complex, where rates start at about $16 per night. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Vault toilets
The Boxelder Forks Campground provides easy access to Boxelder Creek and the fishery located on it. Beautiful trails run near and through this campground, located near Nemo, South Dakota. Rates start at $16 per night. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Hiking trails, restrooms
Dalton Lake Campground offers easy access to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the Black Hills National Forest. Restrooms are nearby. Rates start at $18 per night at this campground. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Hiking trails, fire rings
Hikers have a variety of trails to choose from in the Black Hills. Wind through Custer State Park, or try part (or all!) of the 111 mile Centennial Trail. Other forest trails afford beautiful views of wildflowers or teach hikers about the history of the area.
Centennial Trail runs from Bear Butte State Park to Wind Cave National Park. There are seven trailheads to Centennial Trail, so you can easily plan to hike the whole way or just a part of it. Numerous spots are available for tent camping along its 111-mile length.
Length: 111 miles
The Harney Peak Trail is in Custer State Park. It winds its way by a lake and up a hill to a lookout tower. You can hike this trail all year long, but it is especially remarkable from May to October.
Length: 6.4 miles
The Flume Trail is a National Recreation Trail because of its historical significance to residents. The area where this trail runs carried water to the mining operations located in the area. Along the route, see historical artifacts and how workers changed the land to construct the flume.
Length: 11 miles
The Old Baldy Trail near Spearhead, South Dakota, is magnificent in the springtime when the wildflowers are in bloom. Parts of this trail to Mt. Baldy are better maintained than others, so bring some bushwhacking tools along. This pet-friendly trail is also beautiful in the fall.
Length: 7 miles
Meander through an old-growth Ponderosa pine forest on the Little Spearfish Trail. Watch along the creek to see dipper birds feeding. These tiny songbirds feed almost entirely underwater.
Length: 6 miles
Anglers can catch brown, brook, and rainbow trout, and perch and crappie at Black Hills National Forest depending on where they fish. Pactola Reservoir is the largest and deepest body of water in the forest. A full-service marina is available at this location near Rapid City, South Dakota, where the trout fishing is usually outstanding. Another option is the Deerfield Reservoir near Hill City, South Dakota. This location is a popular area to go ice fishing in the winter. A third option is Sheridan Lake, where the northern pike are often biting.
There are several geocaches to find at Black Hills National Forest. One of the best places to start is at the Norbeck Preserve because there are multi-stage geocaches hidden there. Start by finding the hidden watering hole in the rocks where miners used to throw coins to bring them good luck. Nearby, you will find the first geocache. Then, use the coordinates to follow the unusual, orange-stained creek to find the second one. Again, follow the new coordinates to a meadow, the home of a former mining community. You will find the final clue near the community's ruins. Finally, find the last cache at the sight of the former Drake's Mine. No records show that prospectors found gold at this location, but you will feel like you found your bag of gold nuggets when you locate this cache.
One of the best places to go nature watching at Black Hills National Forest is at the Norbeck Preserve. The federal government has protected this area for more than 100 years. You can often see mountain goats on steep cliffs or standing guard on the rocky outcroppings. Nearby, you may see bighorn sheep grazing. Throughout the preserve, you may see Rocky Mountain elk and white-tail deer. Look closely among the Ponderosa pine trees, and you may spot wild turkey. Regular prescribed burning happens at the preserve, so watch for black-backed woodpeckers in these areas. Across the preserve, you may see mountain bluebirds, goshawks, eagles, and grouse.
The Black Hills National Forest regularly hosts moonwalks. Typically, forest staff holds these walks on a Saturday close to the full moon. Join a park ranger on these guided walks lasting between one and two hours. Rangers guide participants to great stargazing areas throughout the part of this forest near Hill City, South Dakota.
Address: U.S. Highway 385 Rapid City, South Dakota 57701
Fee: Entry fee $0
You will love exploring Black Hills National Forest, where you can go hiking, biking, rock climbing, and more. Several campgrounds are available, so bring your RV and use this location as a base to explore the rest of the area. If you do not have an RV, rent one on RVshare.com.