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Pactola Lake in the Black Hills Natonal Forest
Pactola Lake. Travelers between Keystone and Deadwood along US 385 through the Black Hills National Forest are treated to this view of Pactola Lake.

Black Hills National Forest

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Distance All around
Time Needed: A minute, an hour, a day or a lifetime
Best Time To Go: Anytime
Directions: Follow any road out of Keystone. The town is surrounded by the national forest
Cost: Free except for camping and a few trails
Highlights: Free public access
Black Hills National Forest
                is Open All Year.
Open All Year

     The 1.2 million-acre Black Hills National Forest is a paradise for outdoor lovers. Virtually all of the forest, except for a few designated and well-posted areas are open to the public. There are more than 75 marked forest trails including the popular Centennial Trail and the Mickelson Trail  in the forest and adjacent public lands.
     Many trails are open to hikers, cyclists and, horseback riders. However you need to check specific trails for permitted uses. See the Black Hills National Forest Trail Guide. Printed trail maps and guides also can be picked up at Forest Service offices.
      Motorized travel in the Black Hills is restricted to marked roads and special use trails which require a USFS Black Hills Trail permit. Trail permits may be purchased on line at:
       Lakes and streams within the Black Hills National Forest are also open for recreational usage and are jointly managed by the Forest Service and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Wildlife. South Dakota licenses are required for hunting and fishing within the forest and some areas, such as the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and seasonal breeding areas, are off-limits. Boating is not permitted on all lakes.
     A free map of Snowmobiling trails can be ordered from the S.D. Office of Tourism at 1-800-732-5682. Up-to-date trail information is available from the Black Hills Trail office at (605) 584-3896. Black Hills snow condition reports are available at 1-800-445-3474.
      Other popular Black Hills Forest activities include rock climbing, canoeing, backpacking, skiing, nature photography, birdwatching and geocaching ... as well as just plain sightseeing. Then there's camping, but we're a hotel so we don't talk about that except to say that when it is rainy and cold, a the wind is blowing through your tent at 70 MPH and you haven't had a shower in three days ... and you really need a night in a hotel .... well we're open all year. :)
      Some of the more spectacular features are seen from the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway with its one-lane tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore and the Needles Highway and Spearfish Canyon. Views include waterfalls, sheer cliff walls, springs and plenty of wildlife.
      Contact info:  Black Hills National Forest. Info: 605-673-2251. Write: RR2, Box 200, Custer, SD 57730  (Note: as of this writing the Black Hills National Forest is building a new headquarters on Highway 16, just south of Rapid City. This facility is expected to be open for the 2007 season.)

Updated 1/23/2013 Roosevelt Inn. All rights reserved.