What to Bring to the Black Hills
There's no set list of "must" items that travelers
should bring to the Black Hills. Obviously, the choices you make will depend
largely on how you travel. If you are flying, for instance, you'll certainly
want to carry less than if you are traveling by camper. Also the season
when you travel has a great deal of bearing on what you should bring. This
list will help you get started:
Appropriate Clothing: In summer, temperatures
can vary wildly between daytime and nighttime as well as between the prairie
and the mountains. Therefore, even in July and August you should bring
a light jacket and sweater because evening temperatures can be cool, dipping
into the 50s. Daytime temperatures, meanwhile, can rise well over 100 degrees
in places like the Badlands, so a wide brimmed hat is a good idea, too.
(A baseball cap won't protect your neck and ears from sunburn.You see,
there's a reason cowboys wear cowboy hats.) In winter, temperatures on
the prairie can be brutally cold with wind-chill factors well below minus
30 degrees. Dress accordingly. Also bring sunglasses -- even in the winter
Personal Chemistry Set: If you need
prescription drugs, don't forget to pack them. You'd think this goes without
saying but a surprising number of travelers do forget their medications.
Finding a pharmacy can be a hassle and involve driving 30 or 40 miles to
get a prescription filled. Also it's a good idea to bring along your favorite
personal-care products: shampoos, conditioners, razors and the like. You
should pack a good sunscreen (UV blocker), too.
Car Kit: If you are traveling in winter,
a kit of winter survival gear is all but mandatory. The kit should include
a warm blanket, a flashlight and extra batteries, emergency rations (high
energy candy bars and nuts are great), a candle, matches, flares, a snow
shovel, and rock salt or sand. Experts say you shouldn't carry extra fuel,
however. In summer, make sure that you carry plenty of water.
Money or Traveler's Checks: You don't
need to travel with a lot of money these days as long as you have some
credit cards. But there are times when only cash will do -- for instance,
you'll need cash to pay some park entrance fees. Cashing personal checks
can be difficult, so don't count on it. But ATM machines are common throughout
the Black Hills. People rarely use traveler's checks these days, instead opting for pre-paid credit cards.
Other Stuff: A lot of people travel
with ice chests, some of which are big enough to chill a side of beef!
(Hint: Motel ice, which is kept at around 32 degrees, is lousy for ice
chests. You are better off with hard-frozen (zero degree) ice that will
last longer and keep your cooler, well, cooler.) The reason that we mention
ice chests is that the Black Hills is ideal picnic country. So you may
want to bring a sharp knife, salt shaker, plastic forks and spoons and
other supplies for an impromtu picnic or two. Binoculars are nice for spotting
wildlife and birds. And some folks wish they had a fishing pole along.