Three Ways to Explore Black Hills National Forest

The Black Hills National Forest is 1.2 million acres of forested land and mountain ranges that extend from western South Dakota to northeastern Wyoming. The name of this forest is derived from the Lakota words Paha Sapa, which mean “hills that are black,” because when viewed from a distance, the hills appear black. There is so much to do and see in The Black Hills National Forest. The following are three different ways that you can explore the Black Hills National Forest.

View of Crazy Horse from helicopter tour in Black Hills, SD

Take a Helicopter Tour and See the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial

If you are looking for things to do in Black Hills National Forest, consider a helicopter tour. Imagine viewing the beauty of the forest from the sky! You’ll get to see the tops of the trees and mountain peaks up close and personal! In fact, helicopter tours of Black Hills National Forest are quite popular. Copter Tours and Black Hills Helicopters are two popular tour companies.

Some of the most popular helicopter tours are those for Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. If you really want to experience Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, a helicopter tour is the best way to do it! You’ll actually get to see these iconic landmarks up close and personal in a way that can’t be experienced on foot.

Needles Highway in Black Hills National Forest

Drive Needles Highway

Known as the “The Impossible Highway,” Needles Highway is a must-have experience. Set up your Black Hills National Forest lodging to ensure that you get a chance to experience this very unique thoroughfare. Located in Custer State Park, this road offers 14 miles of the winding road complete with tunnel views, sharp turns, and amazing scenery. Given the name “The Impossible Highway” due to critics believing that it would be hard to build, this roadway is one of the most popular attractions and scenic routes along Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway.

This highway is for taking in the beautiful views, and even visiting a number of sites such as Center Lake, Legion Lake, Sylvan Lake, and Cathedral Spires.

Sunset over Black Elk Peak in Black Hills National Forest

Enjoy a Hiking Trail

You may want to plan your Black Hills lodging to experience all the wonderful trails. The following are several trails to consider visiting for hiking in the Black Hills.

Cathedral Spires Trail
Located within Custer State Park, this 1.5-mile one-way trail can be traveled on foot or via vehicle. This trail is rated moderate to strenuous, and you’ll enjoy sights of elk, deer and mountain goats. This trail is popular with those that want the experience of climbing the unique formations that have become known as The Needles or Spires.

Sunday Gulch Trail
This is a beautiful, often overlooked trail of about 3 miles. It is considered difficult to navigate, especially during the spring and in the early summer due to most of the trail being submerged in water due to the Sylvan Lake. There are moss-covered granite walls along a portion of the trail, offering a breathtaking view while hiking.

Horsethief Lake Trail
This is a moderate rated trail that is perfect for those that enjoy the solitary hiking experience. Located in the Black Elk Wilderness, it is considered to be one of the most scenic trails. This trail offers exceptional views of streams, granite spires, and lush vegetation. Because of the numerous granite spires, this trail is quite popular with those that enjoy rock-climbing.

Black Elk Peak
Formerly known as Harney Peak, this trail is one of the highest points in South Dakota at a height of over 7,000 feet. It is also considered the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains. This trail is moderate and takes about 3-4 hours to complete. The trek up this trail rewards you with the Black Elk Peak Fire Tower, where you’ll get to experience panoramic views of the Black Hills.

If you are planning a trip to Black Hills National Forest, you will definitely want to spend a couple of days in the area to thoroughly explore the area to the fullest. For more information on our rentals in the Black Hills, contact us today!