Black Hills

Black Hills Facts

  • Location: Western South Dakota.
  • Size: Approximately 7,000 square miles
  • Elevation: 7,244 ft
  • Name: It’s called the Black Hills as the ponderosa pine forests look dark from afar. Lakotas called it “Paha Sapa”, which translates to “hills that are black”.
  • National Forest: Black Hills National Forest covers 1.25 million acres and includes caves, mines, waterfalls and prairies.

One of the most heralded natural phenomenon of South Dakota, the Black Hills are a small range of mountains spanning the western part of the state. Home to the highest mountains east of the Rockies, the range’s name is derived from its thick covering of pine and spruce trees, which gives it a dark appearance from a distance. South Dakota’s Black Hills were originally formed hundreds of millions of years ago by volcanic activity.

The biosystems of the range are distinguished by fossilized rock types, diverse wildlife, and an abundance of flora and fauna. Adventurous hikers may discover natural bridges, unexplored caves, and other geographical marvels.

The Black Hills area also offers plenty of delicious dining and lodging options. Abundant shopping is available as well, from the famous Wall Drug to small, specialty antique stores.

History

Originally inhabited by a Native American population, the thick forests of the Black Hills of South Dakota were a primary source of wood for construction and fuel. The area was overrun with gold miners after the precious metal was discovered there by General George Custer’s expedition in 1874.

The ensuing gold rush drove out the native population and led to the widespread settlement of whites in the years following. Today, the Black Hills are still actively mined for gold, coal, silver, uranium, and other specialty minerals.

Cities & Economy

The area encompassing the Black Hills is home to more than 250,000 permanent residents. The major modern-day city is Rapid City; its thriving metropolitan area makes it the second-largest city in the state of South Dakota.

Other notable cities include Deadwood (distinguished by its authentic “Wild West” setting), the historic Custer (home to the Black Hills National Forest), Spearfish, Newcastle, Hill City, and Keystone, among others.

Primary sources of income for South Dakota’s Black Hills area include tourism, mining, lumber harvesting, sheep and cattle ranching, and modest manufacturing of artillery, electronics, gold jewelry, and other select goods.

Tourist Attractions

A major tourist destination and source of economy for the state of South Dakota, the Black Hills are home to such national attractions as Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Wind Cave National Park, making it a site rich in history and heritage.

Additional recreational landmarks include the George S. Mickelson Trail, Bear Butte State Park, and the towering Black Elk Peak. Each August, the Black Hills hosts the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which draws in more than 550,000 bikers and boosts the economy of surrounding areas.

Black Hills / Western Region

Whether you are looking for something to do, a place to stay, a nearby restaurant there are endless opportunities in the region. Take a peak at some of the many area hotspots below.

Jewel Cave National Monument

Jewel Cave National Monument

Stampmill Inn, Restaurant and Saloon

Stampmill Inn, Restaurant and Saloon

Sunset Motel & RV Park

Sunset Motel & RV Park

Kōl

Kōl

Llewellyn Johns Recreation Area

Llewellyn Johns Recreation Area

Sleep Inn and Suites Rapid City

Sleep Inn and Suites Rapid City

Ramada

Ramada

Deadwood Dick’s Suites, Saloon and Antique Mall

Deadwood Dick’s Suites, Saloon and Antique Mall

Tru by Hilton

Tru by Hilton

Rim Rock Lodge

Rim Rock Lodge

The Farmhouse Bistro & Bar

The Farmhouse Bistro & Bar

Sheps Canyon Recreation Area

Sheps Canyon Recreation Area

Historic Bullock Hotel

Historic Bullock Hotel

Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries

Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries

Bobkat’s Purple Pie Place

Bobkat’s Purple Pie Place

Cole Cabins

Cole Cabins

The Caboose

The Caboose

Country Inn & Suites

Country Inn & Suites

Great Faces. Great Places.

South Dakota is an incredibly unique state in that each region offers a completely different experience then the others. Check out each of the regions to see what each has to offer!

Badlands

Western South Dakota

Featuring the Black Hills, Badlands, the Sturgis Rally. This region tends to be the most popular.

CENTRAL REGION

This region of South Dakota offers some of the best hunting and fishing in the entire central US. 

Eastern Region

The eastern region is home to the largest city in the state and provides visitors with a true "prairie" experience.