Sports & Recreation
Sports and recreation opportunities abound in and around the Black Hills. According to a 2001 survey by the Outdoor Industry Association, nearly 69 percent of South Dakotans participate in outdoor recreational activities.
In western South Dakota many of those recreational activities – from camping to mountain biking to rock climbing – take place in the Black Hills National Forest, which encompasses an area about 125 miles long and 65 miles wide. The forest includes 1,300 miles of streams and 353 miles of trails, in addition to 30 campgrounds, 11 reservoirs, and 13,000 acres of wilderness land that is closed to wheeled vehicles. The Black Hills National Forest website has an intereactive map that allows users to explore the recreation options available in the Black Hills.
The Black Hills region also boasts the 111-mile Centennial Trail, the 109-mile Mickelson Trail (which follows an abandoned railbed), miles of cross-country ski trails, and two downhill ski areas near Lead.
Some have opposed the wilderness restrictions, saying public land should be accessible to everyone. Others say “wild” areas are essential to preserve biodiversity and for the good of the human spirit. Until recently the Black Hills National Forest was one of few in the country where motorized travel was allowed on all roads and trails unless they were designated as closed. In 2010 the U.S. Forest Service released a new travel management plan that closes all roads and trails in the Black Hills National Forest to motorized vehicles unless otherwise designated. More than 700 miles of trails and 3,150 miles of forest roads remain open to motorized traffic.