The landscape of the Black Hills is peppered with dozens of mountain lakes and thousands of miles of creeks, streams and rivers. Our waterways offer tons of opportunities for anglers of all ages and skill levels to hook brown, rainbow, and brook trout, while our lakes offer abundant trout, panfish, northern pike, lake trout, bass, and walleye populations. You can buy a fishing license and check on conditions on the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website.
Canoe, Kayak & SUP
Getting out on the water is a great way to beat the heat on a warm summer day, and the cool mountain lakes of the Black Hills are perfect! Many of our lakes are closed to motorboats, so get your canoe, kayak or stand up paddleboard in the water and explore the tree-lined shores, rocky cliffs, and abundant wildlife present on our waterways. Be sure to hit Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park, Horsethief Lake and Pactola Reservoir.
There’s no better way to explore the wooded trails, rugged peaks, and vast grasslands of the Black Hills than on foot. Many of the most beautiful landscapes — from rugged mountain overlooks to thundering waterfalls — are accessible by no other means. So lace up those boots, fill up your Camelback, and hit the trails! Check out the trails in Custer State Park, including the Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak) trail, which leads up to an amazing stone fire tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1935 to 1938.
The Black Hills are home to thousands of miles of trails perfect for bike enthusiasts! There are a variety of road, trail, and mountain biking options for all ages and skill levels. Be sure to check out the 109 miles of the Mickelson Trail, which connects many of the cities and communities in the Black Hills and winds through prairie, mountains, aspen-lined creeks, pine forests and high-country meadows. You might even catch a glimpse of some native wildlife along the way.
Looking for a unique way to experience the Black Hills? Aerial tours by helicopter and hot air balloon allow visitors to take in the amazing panoramic views of the natural landscape and the area’s man-made attractions like Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore.
The Black Hills are home to abundant wildlife species, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, bison (buffalo), antelope, deer, and elk. Birdwatchers love the area, which is home to nearly 400 species of birds, including endangered species like the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and whooping crane.
Every year, tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts flock to the Black Hills for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — and for good reason! An exhilarating motorcycle ride through the Black Hills is an unforgettable way to explore the beautiful scenery of the region and visit some of the quaint towns scattered throughout the Hills.
The geologic rock formations that make up the landscape of the Black Hills attract climbers of all skill levels! Custer State Park is a climber’s paradise, with granite pillars, towers, and spires. Make sure to check out the Cathedral Spires, the Outlets, and the Needles Eye. For more information, visit Sylvan Rocks Climbing School & Guide Service.
If you’re looking to avoid crowds, check out Spearfish Canyon. It’s more remote location features beautiful limestone rock formations populated with waterfalls and dense forests. Don’t miss Blue Sky, Botany Bay, Big Picture Gully, and Sunshine.