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Horsethief Lake near Mt. Rushmore
(US Forest Service Photo)    
This is one of several free parks maintained by the US Forest Service in the Black Hills. Such parks are great spots for activities such as picnics, animal watching and, in this case, fishing.

Free Parks

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    A person might think of the Black Hills as just one big park.

     Certainly if you want an outdoor experience just being in the Black Hills National Forest will do. Access to the entire 1.4 million acres it is virtually free -- although overnight hiking on some trails requires a small fee.

     Also the public lands around Mt Rushmore, Jewel Cave, and Wind Cave (operated by the National Park Service) can all be visited and used for free. Devil's Tower and the Badlands have access fees however.

     Most cities and towns in the Black Hills, including Keystone, have free city parks. Among the most notable is Canyon Lake in Rapid City. Another favorite is Storybook Island in Rapid City, which is privately operated by the Rapid City Rotary Club .
 
     What you do at these free facilities is up to you. Facilites operated by the US Forest Service are in the woods, so they are good locations for a picnic, perhaps some fishing or just enjoying the outdoors. City parks usually have facities such as picnic areas, playgrounds, tennis courts and other free facilities. National parkes offer an array of facilites, such as hiking trails, generally geared toward outdoor enthusiats. (One note, however, public access near Mt. Rushmore is tightly controlled.  Off trail hiking is not allowed.)
 
     For more information check out the following links. Use your browser's "back" command to return to this page.
 
Wind Cave National Park Jewel Cave National Monument Mt Rushmore Natonal Monument Storybook Island
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