Exploring the Black Hills
By Carmella Biesiot
The Black Hills attracts families, history buffs, and adventure-seeking enthusiasts from all over the world each year. These breathtaking hills feature two parts -- the Northern Hills and the Southern Hills.
The Southern Black Hills is home to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, Rapid City, Hill City (home of the popular Prairie Berry Winery), Custer State Park, and many other internationally-recognized attractions. However, it is the Northern Black Hills that can offer you a surprisingly unique vacation experience. Visit these 5 destinations and learn why your trip to the Northern Black Hills is worth more than just one night in a hotel.
Find your inner outlaw in Deadwood. Deadwood, a national historic landmark, features historic Main Street, several upscale gaming resorts, and entertainment for the entire family. Nestled between Sturgis and Spearfish, this exciting place offers something for everyone-gaming for those who seek the thrill of winning, fine dining for foodies, high end retail, museums and guided tours, excellent fly fishing at Whitewood Creek, and for those looking to stay active on their trip, be sure to hike Mount Roosevelt to the Friendship Tower, and don’t forget hit up the exalted Mickelson Trail which begins in Deadwood-take a run or walk, or rent a bike and take the ride of your life on the most beautiful trail in the country!
Spearfish Canyon is a must-see destination in the Black Hills. This, nearly 20 mile drive, features a bird watcher’s paradise, ample rock climbing opportunities, diverse plant life, breathtaking waterfalls including Roughlock Falls (hailed as one of the most beautiful attractions in the Black Hills), and hiking at Devil’s Bathtub, the most scenic and recognizable hike in the area. Consider your Black Hills holiday inadequate without this picturesque drive.
Named after the ancient Greek placer workings on the River Pactolus, Pactola Reservoir, located 11 miles north of Hill City, mixes history and recreation! Pactola actually used to be an old town. When the Pactola Dam was built in 1956, the town flooded permanently and Pactola Lake was born. At least a half day, if not an entire day, is recommended to explore the reservoir. And don’t worry if you don’t own a boat. The Pactola Lake Marina offers speed boats, ski boats, sailboats, fishing boats, and pontoons for daily rental. Don’t forget your camera. Pactola is one of the most stunning destinations in the area.
Spearfish, South Dakota was once named one of the best small towns to live in in America. Home to Black Hills State University, this town provides a “Boulder-esque” experience in the heart of the Northern Black Hills. With its stellar views, unique shops, its own brewery named after the local summit, Crow Peak, and a trendy downtown that stays active with community events, it's impossible for even the town's residents to get bored! Be sure to visit the DC Booth Fish Hatchery at the gorgeous Spearfish Park. This is a free attraction that even the locals love. If you have children, love nature, or are just looking for a stroll in the park, the fish hatchery will suit your fancy. Make time for one of the prettiest towns in South Dakota.
Lastly, Devil's Tower, a National Monument, offers an active & scenic, yet spiritual Black Hills experience. A sacred place to American Indians, Devil's Tower is also honored and appreciated by visitors from around the globe. Located near the picnic area, the Circle of Sacred Smoke welcomes the American people as a sign of peace. It also serves as a reminder to the visitor-that this is consider a sacred place to nearly 20 different American Indian tribes. This beautiful and divine area features three different hiking opportunities-all under 3 miles. It is also a popular Rock Climber's destination. Devil's Tower is located 9 miles south of Hulett, Wyoming (near Spearfish). Don't rely on your GPS to get you there-make sure you have a map at hand and pay attention to the signage!
Monuments, shopping, and maybe a little gambling mixed with some history are just a few reasons why 1 night in the Northern Black Hills are not enough, so unpack that suitcase, kick up your feet, and stay a while!
Carmella Biesiot is Director of Hotel Sales and Marketing at The Lodge at Deadwood.