Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Top 10 Outdoor Adventures in the Black Hills & Badlands

Photo courtesy South Dakota Department of Tourism:

Climbers will find hundreds of climbing courses for all levels in the Black Hills.

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is not only a fantastic science, technology, engineering and math school, it also happens to be just minutes from the beautiful Black Hills and Badlands National Park.

The Black Hills National Forest - a 15-minute drive from the campus in Rapid City, SD - is one of the most accessible and gorgeous forests in the country. Badlands National Park is about an hour’s drive from campus. SD Mines students have their choice of a slew of outdoor activities to be enjoyed in both locations.   

Here are 10 top adventures in the Black Hills and Badlands:

1.      Hiking – Maybe the greatest thing about hiking is that it requires very little equipment - just a water bottle and a good pair of shoes. SD Mines is literally a 15-minute drive to some of the most beautiful hikes in the Black Hills. The U.S. Forest Service provides a list of hiking trails for all skill levels. About 5 minutes from campus is M Hill, which features 20 miles of hiking trails. The Badlands National Park, about an hour away, is also home to amazing hiking trails, along with the richest concentration of Oligocene age fossils on the planet.

2.      Picnicking – The Black Hills offers 26 designated picnic areas, so pack a lunch and head into the Hills for a little break.

3.      Rock climbing and cave crawling – Climbers will find hundreds of climbing courses for all levels in the Black Hills. The Black Elk Peak area includes granite towers, the limestone cliffs of Spearfish Canyon offer unique variety and Devils Tower (a 1 ¾-hour drive from campus) is among the premier crack climbing areas in the world. Climbers can also do a little ice climbing during the winter months. The Black Hills is also home to some of the world’s longest caves, and the local cave crawling club leads mapping and exploration trips into Wind Cave, Jewel Cave and other Black Hills caves. 

4.      Camping – Want to sleep under the stars? The Black Hills National Forest has more than 30 campgrounds and more than 682 campsites. Click here for Black Hills National Forest campground info and here for Custer State Park camping info. The Badlands also has excellent camping and an unbelievable night sky.

5.      Kayaking, canoeing and boating – Located on the west edge of Rapid City is Canyon Lake, which is a prime spot for some in-town kayaking or canoeing. You can also put in on Rapid Creek, which runs through the city. Once outside Rapid City, there are numerous lakes both big and small to explore, from small lakes such as Center Lake in Custer State Park to larger lakes like Sheridan Lake and Pactola Reservoir.

6.      Mountain biking – The Black Hills has miles of mountain bike trails for all skill levels, including more than 25 miles of trails within city limits. The Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park Trail Network, located five minutes from campus, is also called M-Hill thanks to the giant M that decorates the hilltop.

7.      Dirt biking and off-roading – The Black Hills has more than 3,600 miles of roads and more than 600 miles of trails for ATV, UTV and other off-road vehicles. This includes 90 miles of single track trails for motorcycles and dirt bikes.  And hundreds more miles for four-wheel drives and other off-road vehicles.

8.       Hunting and Fishing – Rapid Creek runs through Rapid City, providing great trout fishing within five minutes from campus. Other creeks and lakes in the Black Hills offer a wide range of fish, from rainbow trout to northerns to crappies. The Black Hills is also home to a wide range of wild game, including elk, deer, antelope, turkey and mountain lions.

9.      Snowboarding/skiing – The outdoor activities aren’t exclusive to the spring, summer and fall months for students. The Black Hills is home to two ski resorts – Deer Mountain and Terry Peak. Deer Mountain also offers a tubing park. Both resorts are about an hour from the SD Mines campus.  The Black Hills are also home to many miles of cross country ski trails.

10.  Snowmobiling – The Black Hills offers 350-miles of marked and groomed snowmobile trails. The northern Black Hills receives about 200 inches of snowfall per year.

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About SD Mines  

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,654 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $61,300. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat

Contact: Lynn Taylor Rick, (605) 394-2554, Lynn.TaylorRick@sdsmt.edu