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Stratobowl

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Distance 12 miles
Time Needed: Say a few minutes to an hour or more
Best Time To Go: Anytime 
Directions: The bowl itself is on private land and it is not marked on most maps, There is, however, a overlook and commemorative plaque on an overlook above the bowl.  
Cost: Free 
Highlights: The place where the space age was born  Where the first manned flights into the stratosphere began. 
Description:     The stratobowl is one of those hidden, nearly secret, gems of the Black Hills that few people nowadays visit or even know about. As a geological feature it is a spectacular place with 500 foot cliffs on three sides above as small flat plain no bigger than a few football fields.
     The best approach is from a closed forest service road to the east rim. The road is located about 10 miles south of Rapid City off the westbound lanes of US Highway 16. As you approach from the east, there is a Conoco gas station and RV center on the right side of the road. The forest service road is about 2/10ths of a mile past the RV center and is closed motorized traffic. You need to walk in about 3/4th mile from the gate.     
    At the overlook, you will be at the spot where the national press corps and thousands of spectators gathered in the mid 1930s to watch America's first high-altitude balloon flights. The altitude records set in these flights (72,395 feet) stood until the dawn of the space age in the late 1950s.
The flights were sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the U.S. Army Air Corps 
      More recently Steve Fossett launched hist first around the world attempts from the Stratobowl in January of 1996.
     It is also possible to drive down into the bowl itself, but the field is located on private property which is fenced off and posted.
     You can also learn more by visiting the South Dakota Air and Space Museum at Box Elder, South Dakota.

 
 

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