Harney Peak, rising to 7,242 feet above sea level, is the highest point in South Dakota and also the highest point in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. It is located in the Black Elk Wilderness Area of the Black Hills National Forest of southwestern South Dakota. The jutting rocky summit of the mountain is capped by an abandoned stone lookout tower which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The peak is named for General William S. Harney who was comander of the military in the Black Hills in the late 1870s.
Two popular hiking routes lead to the summit, one from Sylvan Lake and the other from Horse Thief Lake. I hiked the six-mile (round trip) trail from Sylvan Lake in the 1980s, during my quest to climb the highest point in every state. It is a very scenic hike and not too difficult.
Nearby attractions include Custer State Park, with its large herd of free-roaming American Bison, and the very popular Mt. Rushmore National Memorial.
Black Hills National Forest Visitor Center
US 385 at Pactola Reservoir
23939 Highway 385
Hill City, SD 57745
The Shakespeare Garden and Anne Hathaway's Cottage have been part of Wessington Springs since the 30's. An English teacher traveled to England and came back inspired. The cottage was built by looking at a picture postcard from Stratford-upon-Avon.
North of I-90 on Highway 281, it's in the central part of the state. Worth a stop if you're passing by.
Crazy Horse is a big rockcarving like Mt Rushmore. But this time the indian Crazy Horse is being cut out. You can see the work in progress.
'My lands are where my dead lie buried'
-----Chief Crazy Horse
Why Orient, South Dakota? It's kind of on the way between Denver and Philadelphia. Well, that is if you want to drop by New Glarus, Wisconsin and wouldn't mind stopping in Badlands National Park. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt if you have a friend who has a farm in Orient and he promises you a ride in a tractor. I guess what it all boils down to is you have to want to experience middle America in all its often boring glory. Don't fret that locals won't be voting for Obama Bin Laden as they like to refer to our next President of the United States, they don't mean no harm. No, in fact, they are a friendly lot who will feed and treat you as if kin even if times are tough. Oil down, so is grain. But not these folks. You might not see eye to eye with them but after a few days you'll at least see their point. You'll drive away perhaps not agreeing but understanding that where you live does in fact have a strong bearing on how you think. Am I voting for Obama anyway? You damn Bin Laden I am.
Disc Golf is a sport played much life ball golf. Instead of holes, there are chained baskets. Trees and water hazards work the same way. Instead of a ball and club, you throw flying discs which are smaller, heavier and more beveled than "regular Frisbees" so you can throw then a lot further. I was very into the sport in 1994 and visited over 100 courses around the US.
I played a nice little nine basket disc golf course in Rapid City, SD in 1994. It made the beer at the brewery in town go down even better after a quick round.
Devil's Tower National Monument was established in 1906 to protect the monolith aptly called Devil's Tower. This striking sheer rock formation rises dramatically nearly 1300 feet from its surrounding plateau and sits at over 5000 feet above sea level. With the formation being made of dark red sandstone, it would be easy to construe that its name comes from the red hue it emanates, especially at sunset but it was a more typical bastardization of its Indian name: Bad God's Tower. This stems back to its 1875 "discovery" by the white man though it was obviously a place of great significance to Native Americans for hundreds of years prior.
The park is located in the remote northeast corner of Wyoming and more easily reached by those already visiting Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. There are 8 miles of hiking trails in the park, the most popular of which is the paved 1.3 mile path around the base of the Devil's Tower. About 1% of all visitors climb the sheer rock and it is a technical climb.
It costs $10 for a carload of people to enter the National Monument or $5 for individuals. The America the Beautiful Pass gets you into all National Parks and Monuments for up a year for $80 per carload so well worth it if you are visiting other parks in the area.
I did a quick stop here on my 1994 trip around the US National Parks and at the time, unbeknownst to me, National Monuments were not included on the National Parks pass of the day. I think we paid $5 to get in and it was the last Monument we went to.
Ironically, on our most recent trip around the western US National Park system in 2008, we did not make it to Devil's Tower despite my wife having not been. It was just a bit too far out of the way time-wise and with gas going for about $4.50 a gallon that summer!
Devil's Tower National Monument is in the remote northeast corner of WY, about 100 miles or 2 hours from Rapid City, SD.
Many people have heard or read or watched the old TV show "Little House on the Prairie", however how many have ever heard of the Cathedral on the Prairie. In the town of Hoven, South Dakota, population about 125 people they built a Cathedral. As the pictures show it is quite an impressive structure especially in the middle of the prairie. Hoven is located about 45 minutes from the nearest big city of Aberdeen, South Dakota. The town of Hoven had their 125th birthday celebration over the 4th of July weekend in 2008. Here is the link to their town's website. Hoven, South Dakota
Across the Missouri River from Mobridge, South Dakota on a rural road is a monument to Sitting Bull. Although this part of South Dakota is very desolate driving through the area you can almost imagine life in the early 1800's when the Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled by this area.
Ok...this is basically in a sub-division in someone's backyard, but if you feel like seeing something a little out of the ordinary, a little non-american, you could go and visit the Chapel in the Hills, which is a recreation of a Norwegian stave church.
If you're on your way through South Dakota, drive the loop through the badlands. There is a small entrance fee for your vehicle, but it's well worth it. At the entrance you have the opportunity of taking a helicopter ride out over the badlands. If you've never ridden in a helicopter, it's fun, but the view is much better on the ground. The badlands looks like exactly what it is from an aerial view, a dried up great lake bed. But from the ground, the pillars and valleys of red and black stone are breath taking. There are two camp grounds within the limits of the park. The first is located at the East entrance and is a comfortable, rv hookup kind of place. The second is rustic. It's located at the West entrance-exit at the end of a windy and rocky off road. This is where I stayed. I woke up in the morning to the sounds of wild buffallo shuffling past the picinic tables and tiny sun shelters on the "campgrounds." It costs about 10 bucks to stay at the rustic grounds. There are two outhouses, a few picinic tables and a million dollar view of the badlands. If you're up for it, there is a narrow path leading to the top of some small hills at the edge of the grounds. The view of the sunset is very pretty from the top.
This is also mentioned as must see but it is a bit out of the way to get to and there is not much else around it. This area is beautiful to drive through as there are many hills and forests that you will drive through. The Pine Ridge people are extremely friendly and it is amazing to hear the Lakota language being spoken by most of them.
This picture is a shot of the creek area where the Battle took place according to a local.
Jack McCall shot Wild Bill Hicock in the head while he was playing poker at the No. 10 Saloon in 1876. This is the place where McCall was arrested for his crime. It is along Main street but only a hanging placard marks the location of the event.
The Washington profile is quite stunning to see from the road. The mountain peaks around it, and pine trees. There is a small pull off parking spot that will give you good views.
1/2 mile west on Hwy 244
Harney Peak is a wonderful hike in the Black Hills region. The most popular trailhead begins in Sylvan Lake, which has absolutely stunning scenery. It is a few miles from the lake to the summit, however anyone in decent shape will have no problem with this. At the top is an observation tower, where you will see an incredibly grand sight. The Native Americans regarded the top of this mountain as being very sacred. My hike was made in April, and there was no snow on the trail at that time. I got an early start and had the whole place to myself. It was a little chilly with the wind, so appropriate clothing is needed depending on the season. By far, this has been one of my favorite hikes. You will not regret it. Go to Custer State Park and find Sylvan Lake. Then find the trail to Harney Peak at a parking lot opposite from the lake. This is the highest point in South Dakota.
So it's barely "off the beaten path." Less than half an hour west of Sioux Falls on I-90, there is an artist's outdoor statue display. You have to pay to get in, but I admit I don't know much about it. Kind of a freaky looking thing along the side of the interstate. Keep your eyes peeled. Looking while traveling is good enough for me.
I-90 Exit: Montrose
The Radisson Hotel Rapid City is located in the city's historic downtown, an easy walk to the main...more
Stayed here 3 nights toward the end of September, 2010 on business. It is very convenient to...more
100 Pine Crest Lane, Box 320, Deadwood, South Dakota, 57732, United States
Good for: Families