Wind Cave Opens Backcountry Roads, Lifting Closure Order


Wind Cave National Park. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography

December 4, 2017

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Thirteen miles of backcountry roads in Wind Cave National Park closed on November 17 to protect natural and cultural resources are now open.

The park established a temporary closure affecting roads NPS 5 and NPS 6 and a portion of the park’s backcountry in order to protect sensitive natural and cultural resources. Since then, the park has implemented other protective measures that are less restrictive.

Periodic closures of backcountry roads NPS 5 and 6 remain possible throughout winter for visitor safety during hazardous road conditions.

The visitor center is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 with cave tours at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. The visitor center will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.


About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at

2018 Forest Day Use Passes on Sale – One Day Only – Friday, December 1, 2017

November 20, 2017

Custer, SD– On Friday, December 1, 2017, Forest Recreation Management (FRM) Day Use Passes for the 2018 season will be available for half price at several Black Hills National Forest offices including, the Bearlodge Ranger District office in Sundance, WY, the Northern Hills Ranger District office in Spearfish, SD, the Mystic Ranger District office in Rapid City, SD and the Forest Supervisors/Hell Canyon Ranger District office in Custer, SD.

These passes are for USDA Forest Service facilities located within the Black Hills National Forest fee areas and should not be confused with South Dakota State Park Passes.

The Premium passes (which includes the Sheridan and Pactola complexes) will be $17 (regularly $34), and the Standard passes (which are for all FRM operated day use areas except the Sheridan and Pactola complexes) will be $10 (regularly $20).  Please pay with cash or check.

Requests made by mail with postmarks between Dec.  1-3 to FRM, PO Box 1168, Hill City, SD 57745 will also be honored. Please include a check for the appropriate amount.

The number of passes available for purchase per individual is unlimited, making them great gifts for stocking stuffers, gift exchanges and prizes for drawings. No other discounts will be accepted with this offer and those with senior or access discounts can receive this reduced price any time.

Under a special use permit, FRM operates Black Hills National Forest campgrounds and other recreation facilities. FRM has been operating these facilities since 1999.

For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, visit

South Dakota’s “Mount Rushmore’s American Pride” Float Appears in the Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®

2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®. Photo: South Dakota Department of Tourism.

PIERRE, S.D. — R&B icon Smokey Robinson will perform on the “Mount Rushmore’s American Pride” float in the 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®.

For the eighth year in a row, the “Mount Rushmore’s American Pride” float will appear in the parade. An estimated 3 million spectators will watch from New York while more than 50 million television viewers watch nationwide. The goal of this effort by the Department of Tourism is to drive new and repeat visitors to the state and to generate brand awareness.

Smokey Robinson will be joined by the South Dakota Department of Tourism’s Mount Rushmore mascots.

The float will make its national appearance on NBC-TV on Thursday, November 23rd, between 9 a.m. and noon in all time zones.

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen.

Boxelder Creek Road to Close Temporarily

November 3, 2017

Rapid City, SD,  – Boxelder Creek Road (FSR 140) will be closed starting November 7 for approximately 30 days.  The closure will be just beyond the Centennial Trail Trailhead, approximately 1 mile from the junction with Nemo Road.

The purpose of the closure is to replace two large culverts on Boxelder Creek.

Facilities that will be inaccessible via motor vehicle include the open sites at Box Elder Forks Campground, the Box Elder Creek Walk-in Fishery, and the Boxelder Forks Recreation Residents Tract since none of them will be accessible with a vehicle. Cabins are accessible by foot, however, but will have to ford Boxelder Creek to do so.

For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, visit


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Hiltunen Recognized by SD Parks and Recreation Association


Katy Hiltunen, with the 2017 Young Professional Award. Submitted Photo

November 3, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Association of Parks and Recreation (SDPRA) recently awarded South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) employee, Katy Hiltunen, with the 2017 Young Professional Award. Hiltunen was recognized for her enthusiasm and support of parks and recreation in the state, both in her role as a GFP visitor services team member and as an active board member of SDPRA.

“In her short professional career, Katy has already demonstrated an outstanding level of enthusiasm for the field of parks and recreation in South Dakota,” said Lynn Spomer, visitor services director with GFP’s division of parks and recreation. “Katy was the student representative for SDPRA while she was in college. After graduation, she became a full-time staff member of the Department of Game, Fish, and Parks, and was elected as a member at large for the SDPRA board of directors. She always provides input at board meetings and has great ideas.”

Hiltunen started her career in the field in college, working at Lake Thompson Recreation Area, Custer State Park and West Whitlock Recreation Area in various capacities as a seasonal employee and intern. She became a full-time employee at the Pierre office a little over a year ago. Her duties include monitoring the Point of Sale system for the division of parks and recreation, auditing the yearly sales from that system, helping staff navigate the camping reservation system, signage throughout the state parks, and working special events.

Hiltunen is originally from Howard, S.D., and graduated from South Dakota State University in 2015 with a degree in sport, recreation and park management.

Each year, the South Dakota Parks and Recreation Association recognizes organizations and individuals for their work and dedication to communities through parks and recreation. Awards are selected by past and present SDPRA board members composed of parks and recreation professionals throughout the state. The awards encourage dedication and support to the field of parks and recreation. To learn more, visit

A South Dakota Tradition

By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
October 20, 2017

We are fortunate to be home to the country’s best pheasant hunting, and opening day of pheasant season is a weekend South Dakotans look forward to all year. I’ll once again be spending opening weekend near Presho, hunting with family and friends.

One of the aspects of hunting I enjoy so much is the camaraderie. Our kids grew up learning to hunt, and all four are planning to join us in the fields this fall, along with their own families. My oldest grandson will have the opportunity to mentor hunt this year. While the grandkids are still young, they look forward to hunting season as much as we do! They enjoy helping dogs chase down birds, and afterward we all enjoy a meal together as we share stories about that day’s hunt.

I first learned about hunting when I was just 3 or 4 years old, when my dad, Grandpa Don, and the man who raised my dad, John Kauth, took me out hunting with them for the first time. However, I was introduced to the sport on the day I was born—the opening weekend of 1954. Each birthday, my dad reminds me about how I messed up his hunt that year!

Hunting is more than just a hobby for South Dakotans, it’s also a big source of income for many of our small businesses. Each year, people from all over the country visit our state to hunt in the best pheasant habitat in the nation. They stay in our hotels, dine in our restaurants and enjoy all of the other things South Dakota has to offer. We’ve had a tough year in South Dakota with this summer’s drought, and there will be fewer birds out there, but I’m confident hunters will still be able to have a successful season – both South Dakotans and nonresidents alike.

Hunting plays a large role in land conservation, as well. One of the best things we can do as sportsmen and women is continue to promote the use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. It’s a good program for farmers, because it provides them with an additional source of income and it’s good for hunters because it creates excellent habitat for deer, pheasant and water fowl to nest. As we continue discussions on the upcoming farm bill, raising the number of CRP acres has been a top priority of mine.

We’re looking forward to enjoying some fresh air, hunting a few birds and making even more family memories this season, and we hope you, your loved ones and friends will do the same. We wish all South Dakotans safe, fun and successful hunts!

CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL – Admission Price Change

October 13, 2017

Custer, SD –  After four years without an increase in admission prices, Crazy Horse Memorial has announced a change, effective Saturday, October 14, 2017, to include:

$12.00 per person, $24.00 for two people per car, $30.00 per carload with three persons or more, $7.00 per person on Motorcycles, and $7.00 per Bicyclist/Walker. Children the age of 6 and under are admitted free of charge.

Admission is always waived for Native Americans, Active Duty Military, and Boy and Girl Scouts in uniform. In support of regional food drives, Crazy Horse Memorial will continue to waive admission with three cans of food per person at select times throughout the year.

The public is encouraged to enjoy the Holidays at Crazy Horse Memorial with waived admission with three cans of food per person every weekend (Friday through Sunday) December 17, 2017 through January 7, 2018.

Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation’s mission is to honor, protect, and preserve the culture, traditions, and living heritage of the Indians of North America. The Memorial fulfills its mission by continuing the progress on the world’s largest mountain sculpture, acting as a repository for Native American artifacts, arts and crafts through the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® and the NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER®; by establishing and operating the INDIAN UNIVERSITY OF NORTH AMERICA®, and when practical, a medical training center for American Indians.

52 Annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup Photos

2017 – 52 Annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup Photos
All Photos: Herb Ryan/Herb Ryan Photography
September 29, 2017


Start of the drive on the south viewing area .


Going through the cottonwoods in the north viewing area.


Driving into the corral area pasture.


Spectators coming down the south side viewing area headed to the corrals for the branding activities.


Outriders heading into the corral area after the buffalo stampede.


Cows are checked with ultrasound for pregnancy.


Cows are released from a squeeze chute after pregnancy ultrasound.


A crew works the branding chute.


A buffalo calf gets branded as the next customer looks on.



Crazy Horse Autumn Volksmarch

Photo: 2016 Volksmarch – Peg Ryan/Mile High Pilates and Yoga


Crazy Horse, SD – Looking for a great outdoor activity? Try a hike to the top of Crazy Horse Memorial on Sunday, October 1, 2017. The 10K (6.2miles) round trip to the top of the Mountain Carving is open to the public.
Admission to the Memorial is waived for Volksmarchers with a donation of three cans (3) of food per person appreciated. Regular admission rates apply to non-hikers. Registration for the hike, sponsored by the Black Hills Chapter of the American Volkssport Association, is $3.00 per person. Gates open at 6:00 am, registration starts at 7:00 am and closes at 1:00 pm. The walk itself will start at 8:00 am and all participants must be off the trail by 4:00 pm. The trail winds through Crazy Horse Memorial grounds with the turnaround point on the arm of Crazy Horse. Once at the top you will be standing directly in front of the Crazy Horse’s Face. Those who have hiked up before will notice the subtle changes due to recent work done by the Mountain Crew this past summer to seal the seamlines from weather. The view along the way to the top of the Mountain is spectacular. You will see how much has been done on both sides of Crazy Horse’s Hand and Forearm since last year at this time.
This is a very popular event; shuttle busses are available from the parking areas to the registration tent, pets are not allowed on the trail, and the trail is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs. Water and aid stations will be located along the trail.
The entire complex will be open for your enjoyment as you are invited to tour the Museums, Cultural Center and the Original Studio Home of the Ziolkowski family. The gift shops and Laughing Water Restaurant will be open at 6:00 am. Laughing Water Restaurant will be serving breakfast from 6:00 am until 10:00am.

Fall Colors Coming to the Black Hills National Forest

Photo: Herb Ryan/Herb Ryan Photography

September 19, 2017

Custer, SD – Fall colors will be showing up soon across the Black Hills. Forest Service officials encourage the public to get out and enjoy the outdoors and see nature’s beauty.

“The best viewing for fall colors on the Forest is usually late September to early October,” said Scott Jacobson, Public Affairs Officer, Black Hills National Forest. “Local people, and people from all over the country come here to see the spectacular colors of red, orange and yellow, mixed in with the green pine forest.”

Northern Hills (areas near Spearfish, SD)

  • Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is renowned for its natural beauty and history framed by towering limestone canyon walls. The byway is a favorite fall color drive when the aspen changes in September. This byway is the best place in the Black Hills to see waterfalls, such as Bridal Veil Falls. Creeks run through the canyon, and many hiking trails are available for those who want to stray from the road. Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway follows an old railroad grade that was abandoned after massive flooding in 1933. Old rail stops and mining camps include Savoy and Elmore.

Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower is located north of Deadwood, SD. The famous Deadwood Sheriff, Seth Bullock, built the Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower in 1919 as a dedication to President Theodore Roosevelt, his close friend of many years. The tower offers a 360 degree panoramic view from the top.

Southern Hills (areas near Custer, SD and Newcastle, WY)The Old Baldy Trail is a 5.7 mile loop with a 0.7 mile spur trail to the summit of Old Baldy Mountain.  The trail meanders through stands of quaking aspen, paper birch, and ponderosa pine. To access the Old Baldy Trail from Spearfish, travel south on FSR 134 for approximately 13 miles to the trailhead which is on the west side of the road. From Savoy, travel south on FSR 222 for 6 miles to the intersection with FSR 134, and travel north on FSR 134 for approximately 1.1 miles to the trailhead.

Vanocker Canyon, outside of Sturgis, SD, is also a nice drive and there are several pretty areas along the way.

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway – Named for South Dakota’s former governor and US Senator, the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway offers 70 miles of outstanding sights including Mount Rushmore, The Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road and Custer State Park. Visitors may spot mountain goats, bison, deer, elk, bighorn sheep and turkey. The Norbeck overlook provides views of Harney Peak and many lakes are near the byway. For those wishing to see more than the road can offer, the byway has several trailheads which lead into the backcountry of the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and Black Elk Wilderness.

Central Hills (areas near Rapid City, SD)

  • Flag mountain offers a beautiful lookout over the Black Hills and vehicles can drive right to it. The drive meanders around the Rochford area where Fall colors are plentiful. You can see Reynolds Prairie below, a portion of a rare Montane Grassland ecosystem and find several grassland bird species such as grasshopper sparrow, bobolink, bluebirds, ospreys and eagles. Several Native American sacred sites such as Hat Mountain and Pechla can be seen from the mountain. In the far distance is Harney Peak. (Directions: Take Deerfield Road (306) to 303 (towards Rochford), then NFSR 189 approximately 2.2 miles to road to Flag mountain.)
  • Newton Fork road displays many colorful aspen stands and makes for a wonderful drive on a Fall day.
  •  For a drive a little more off the beaten path, FSR 190 to Whitetail Peak also offers plenty Fall color viewing areas.
  •  Forest personnel recommend a drive to Black Fox Campground from Rochford (FSR 231) which is accessible to most vehicles. In this area, is a botanical area and has many shrub species such as willow, chokecherry, red-osier dogwood, and service berry, to name a few, that turn purple, red, golden yellow in front of a mix of aspen, pine and spruce. From Black Fox, personnel suggest going south on 233, where there are limestone outcrops, beaver complexes along with many fall colors.
  •  Mc Intosh Fen, another rare ecosystem is exceptionally beautiful in the Fall. To get there, drive 233 to Castle Creek (1303) then head east to Deerfield Lake (loop) along the Castle Creek road. The roads are graveled for the most part but can be bumpy and rough in places. Watch out for ATV`s because use is heavy in this area.
  •  The 718 road heads down Deadman Gulch which has exposed limestone outcrops. As you continue down 718 it will start to climb out of Deadman and then up to a mid-slope road overlooking Foster Gulch. This road will lead to 372 and then to the Rockerville/Harney road (County Road 223). It is highly recommended that you bring a MVUV map since there are many user created trails that are un-marked. It is a beautiful drive for the off-road explorer.

 Northwestern Hills (areas near Sundance, WY)

  • Warren Peak road runs through the middle of the Emerald Forest with full easement. Please be aware that the Emerald Forest is on private property. To get there, take Warren Peak Road past the end of the pavement to Blacktail Road (FSR 838). The Emerald Forest is south of Blacktail junction.
  • Dugout Gulch Botanical Trail #77 is an 8 mile non-motorized loop located approximately 5 miles south of Beulah, WY on the Bearlodge Ranger District. Alongside a creek, the trail meanders through stands of paper birch, ironwood, and hazelnut trees. Sheltered under these trees, one may find several plant species including Rattlesnake Fern, Common Solomon’s Seal, Canadian Enchanter’s Nightshade, and the Oval-leaved Milkweed. Also lingering in this area are several sedges – Meadow Sedge, Fox-tail Sedge and Rosy Sedge. Stop and admire the beauty at one of the benches overlooking the creek along the trail.
  •  Grand Canyon (FSR 875) off of Moskee is another great area in the Fall.
  •  Sand Creek (FSR 863) is also a nice drive which will take you up to Moskee.
  • Forest personnel also recommend Cow Creek to Beaver Creek – To follow this route, drive to 843 (Farrall road) to FSR 833, to FSR 831 to FSR 841 (which would then loop back into FSR 843 if hanging a right on FSR 841).
  •  Another great Fall viewing area, with good access, is Cement Ridge Lookout.  The Lookout is accessible from Sundance to Moskee Road 207 (Exit 191 off interstate), head to Grand Canyon (FSR 875), to Rattlesnake (FSR 804) and then to Guidinger Hill/Cement Ridge (FSR 850).

A Few Fall Driving Safety Tips:

  • Watch for wildlife. Wildlife can run along and across roadways without notice.
  • Observe the rules of the roads such as posted speed limits and no passing zones.
  • Park vehicles in designated parking/rest areas. Do not block gates.

For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, visit