Visit the Black Hills in South Dakota

Stef Zisovska

The Black Hills are a small mountain range in South Dakota, extending into Wyoming. The highest peak is 7244 feet, called Black Elk Peak. The name of the hills comes from a Native American Lakota language, Pahá Sápa, that means black forest. The hills appear black if you look from a distance because they’re covered in trees. The history of the Black Hills is very rich and counts numerous important events. The area was a home of Native American tribes and 1776 the Lakota conquered the Cheyenne and took over the Hills. Since then this area has been a center of their culture and their way of life. 

Black Hills
Black Hills

In 1868, the U.S. Government signed an agreement protecting the area from any white settlement and leaving it to the First Nation peoples. Unfortunately, in 1874, settlers discovered gold in the Black Hills and invaded the area during the gold rush. At that time the tribes were reassigned to five reservations in Western South Dakota. The tribes were relocated against their will, while 9 million acres of their homeland was sold. The Black Hills were mostly settled by European Americans after they’d left the former mining centers in Colorado and Minnesota.

Unlike the mining and timber industries of the past, from the late 20th century those operating in the Black Hills have developed tourism and hospitality facilities. Local people prefer to divide the area in two, The Southern Hills and The Northern Hills. The Southern Hills include Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Park, Black Elk Peak, Crazy Horse Memorial, and the Mammoth site.

In the Northern Hills, you can see Spearfish Canyon, Devils Tower National Monument, and Deadwood.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is one of the most spectacular landmarks in the United States and something that everybody needs to visit. The Mount Rushmore National Monument is a majestic sculpture carved in the granite side of the hill that attracts visitors not only from the country but also foreigners who are fans of American history. The project started for the benefit of Black Hills tourism and it was an absolute success. The carving was started in 1927 and ended in 1941 without any significant obstacles.

The iconic monument under construction
The iconic monument under construction

The monument represents the first 130 years of U.S. history through the carved faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The sculptor selected these four presidents in gratitude for their efforts in expanding the territory and preserving the Republic.

Nowadays, Mount Rushmore has a visitors center, a presidential trail, a chamber beyond the carved faces where on 16 porcelain panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and the history of the U.S.

You can’t miss the chance to visit one of the most spectacular sculptures in the world, and to enjoy the surrounding nature. The Black Hills are waiting for you!

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival