Enjoy the Central Hills

By Gray Hughes

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Welcome, bikers, to the lovely Central Black Hills!

Let me personally welcome you to our little neck of the woods. I hope you have a great — but most importantly safe — visit.

Like many of you, I’m new to the Black Hills as I moved here from the East Coast a year ago this month.

During my time here, I have gotten to experience a lot in the Hills. While mainly in the winter I’m in the Northern Hills so I can ski, luckily for you you came in summer, and boy do I have some summer suggestions for you.

First one may seem obvious: go see Mount Rushmore. Nothing makes you feel more American than staring up at those stone faces.

Mount Rushmore was the first attraction I saw in the Black Hills when I came here to visit my mom when she first moved out here a couple of years ago in December 2015.

Now, when I went to visit it was absolutely freezing, but I was still moved. Whenever I have family or friends who are coming out here I always recommend they go see Mount Rushmore.

Crazy Horse is pretty cool, too. I like being able to see the memorial under construction. The museum there is pretty interesting. It is definitely worth spending some time there and reading up on some local history.

There’s more to do, though, than look at monuments.

One of my favorite things to do — and one of the things that got me to move here — is hiking.

We are so lucky in the Hills to have so many good places to hike. The Central Hills has some very good trails. I’ll try to list some of my favorite ones here.

First is the Flume Trail. You could do the whole thing, but as I learned from experience that is long and hard. But the trail in and around Sheridan Lake is beautiful.

Go to the trailhead and hike to the dam. Walk over the dam, and there is an overlook up there where you can stop, soak in the view (and some rays if you’re like me) and maybe eat a lunch you packed.

Hiking in the Black Elk Wilderness is one of those things you need to do during your visit here. I absolutely love it there. With hardly anyone around, it’s just you and the trail. You’ll need to sign out at the post at the trailhead before you go in, which may seem a little daunting, but it’s a beautiful, beautiful place to hike.

If you’re brave, go hike Black Elk Peak, formerly known as Harney Peak. It’s the highest point in between the Rocky Mountains and the Alps in Europe. I have yet to do it, but it’s on my bucket list to do here. You never know. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

If you want an easy hike, the Stratobowl near Rockerville is a nice, easy hike with a pretty view at the end. The area is full of history, too. It’s where weather balloons were launched back in the 1950s. I highly recommend taking some time to walk on out there, read the signage and soak in the view.

Another once-in-a-lifetime thing I got to do when I came here for my first summer visit back in 2017 was riding on an off-road vehicle through the trails in the Black Hills. That is one of those things, too, that you need to do.

There are many places here in the Central Hills where you can rent an off- road vehicle. I highly recommend doing that. It is another great way to see the Black Hills and provides a truly unique experience.

Hiking isn’t your thing? More interested in getting a bite to eat? Don’t worry. We got you covered there, too.

I’m not going to mention specific restaurants by name, but whether or not you’re looking for a steak, burger or beer we have you covered.

And then there is the ice cream. So many places — whether you want a 1950s era sundae, soft serve ice cream or ultra premium ice cream — that have fantastic ice cream and milkshakes.

Finally, if you haven’t done it yet, go ride through Custer State Park. Custer State Park, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I do not ride myself, but I cannot think of a better way of experiencing South Dakota than taking a ride through Custer State Park.

So there it is: Gray’s suggested things to do in our neck of the woods. I hope you have a great, fun  and — most importantly — safe visit here. Take some time, unwind, visit with our stores (support local businesses!) and get to know fellow bikers from across the country.

Enjoy the Central Black Hills!

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