Recreation

Rock Climbing

Access for the Ages

With several national icons nestled among the pines of the Black Hills National Forest, this Island in the Plains serves as the backdrop for these symbols of America. Specialized campgrounds, roaded recreation opportunities and a system of trails connecting communities, showcase this Forest that provides user friendly access to year round family activities. Together the attractive features of the Black Hills National Forest, Custer State Park, and area National Parks, Memorials, and Monuments are the foundation for the local recreation economies.

Amid the splendid scenery of the Black Hills National Forest are 11 reservoirs, 30 campgrounds, 26 picnic areas, 2 scenic byways, 1,300 miles of streams, 13,000 acres of wilderness, 353 miles of trails, and much more.

Use the sidebar menu on the left or right: find an area/find an activity to learn about all the different ways you can enjoy the outdoors in the Black Hills National Forest.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

  • Reset Map
    Reset Map
Loading Icons...

Spotlights

Norbeck Wildlife Preserve Trail System

child hiking

The Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and Black Elk Wilderness Trail System has eighteen trails ranging in length from 0.6 mile to 8.9 miles. Unless otherwise noted, the trails listed are open for hikers and stock users only.

Individual Trail Information: (Also see Trail Brochures)

  • Lost Cabin Trail (Trail #2), 5.0 miles.
  • Norbeck Trail (Trail #3), 6.3 miles.
  • Trail #4, 2.3 miles.
  • Willow Creek-Rushmore Trail (Trail #5), 1.9 miles.
  • Sunday Gulch Trail (Trail #6), 3.2 miles
  • Grizzly Bear Creek Trail (Trail #7),  6.3 miles.
  • Willow Creek Loop (Trail #8), 2.8 miles.
  • Harney Peak (North) Trail (Trail #9), 4.7 miles.
  • Harney Peak (South) Trail (Trail #9), 3.8 miles.
  • Horsethief Lake Trail (Trail #14), 2.7 miles.
  • Iron Creek Trail (Trail #15), 2.4 miles, Difficulty Rating: Easy. Mountain biking allowed.
  • Iron Mountain Trail (Trail #16), 1.4 miles.
  • A portion of the Centennial Trail (Trail #89), 8.9 miles.
  • Centennial Bypass Trail (Trail #89B), 1.7 miles.
  • Blackberry Trail, 0.8 mile.
  • Sylvan Lakeshore Trail, 1.0 mile, Difficulty Rating: Easy.
  • Cathedral Spires Trail, 0.9 mile.
  • Little Devils Tower Trail, 0.6 mile.

Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and Black Elk Wilderness Trail System brochures are available at most Ranger District Offices and at the Forest Supervisor's Office.

Cook Lake Recreation Area

cook lake sign

The Cook Lake Recreation Area has 32 camp sites and 33 picnic sites.  The lake is stocked with trout, catfish, and sunfish, and there is a wheelchair accessible pier.  There is carry-down access to the lake for small watercraft. Approximately four miles of hiking and bicycling trails are available at the recreation area.

The State of Wyoming allows open fires only if they are contained and not left unattended. Be sure that your fire is completely extinguished before leaving. Check with the local Forest Service Office for fire restrictions.

A hike to Warren Peak Lookout Tower makes a scenic day trip for visitors to the Cook Lake Recreation Area.

Mount Roosevelt Picnic Area

Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower

VIDEO: Mount Roosevelt Virtual Tour

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. Bullock wanted to create a memorial of his friend’s life and a place where people could view wide open spaces that both Bullock and Roosevelt had become so fond of during their lives.

Bullock was Deadwood’s first sheriff, founded the town of Belle Fourche, and was a U.S. Marshal for South Dakota. He was also an early Forest Supervisor on the Black Hills National Forest, appointed to the task by President Roosevelt. Bullock would help establish Wind Cave National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, and the D.C. Booth National Fish Hatchery. President Teddy Roosevelt was known as the “Conservationist President,” because of his vision for protecting public lands, wildlife, and natural resources. Together, these two historical figures played a major role in the conservation movement of the Black Hills.

In 1919, the Society of Black Hills Pioneers provided financial support to build the Tower and in 1966, the Society donated the Tower to the United States Forest Service. In 2005, the Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Mount Roosevelt, also called the Friendship Tower, underwent stabilization in 2010 to reinforce the base and restore the monument for public use. At that time, North Zone Engineer, Dave Plummer, worked with Boxelder Job Corps students and a stone mason specializing in historical restoration to restore and repair the original rock masonry of the Tower. The restoration work on the Tower was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, the Black Hills Parks and Forest Association, and the Black Hills National Forest have all contributed to the restoration of the Tower as well.

The Mount Roosevelt Picnic Area has five picnic sites. Restroom facilities are available.