Black Elk Wilderness
A Special Place
Black Elk Wilderness is located in in the center of the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve & was designated as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System by Congress in 1980. The area is named for the Oglala Lakota holy man Black Elk & is sacred to many American Indians. It is the only Wilderness in the Forest & spans over 13,426 acres.
The CCC built the current stone fire tower that stands a top Black Elk Peak from 1938 to 1940.
Wilderness Rules & Restrictions
The increasing use of our nation's Wilderness areas has led to an increase in rules regulating recreation activities.
Wilderness in the Black Hills is remote and emergency rescue is difficult or sometimes impossible. Please explore the backcountry with care and common sense. (Photo: Ricardo Loza)
With its rugged terrain, magnificent scenery & well-maintained trail system, the Wilderness sees heavy visitation, especially on Trail #9 from Sylvan Lake. Climbing Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak) is a very popular activity, making opportunities for solitude very elusive.
At a Glance
|Restrictions:||Wilderness restrictions apply. Please review.|
|Closest Towns:||Custer, Hill City, & Keystone, SD|
|Water:||Treat all non-potable water before consuming|
|Operated By:||Forest Service|
General InformationGeneral Notes:
Compliance with Wilderness management standards is a constant challenge. Increasing demands on the area have caused physical, biological and social impacts on the resource. Many management actions to minimize the impacts of heavy use have been taken. These include, but are not limited to:
- Education and Information (inside and outside Wilderness)
- Regulations: Special management and visitor regulations are in place to protect and preserve these wild lands from all users. It is YOUR responsibility to know and adhere to these rules while traveling and camping in wilderness.
- Traditional Tools - To preserve the character and experience of wilderness, Black Hills National Forest trail crews and volunteers use traditional, human powered tools when maintaining trails in wilderness areas.
Please enjoy your wilderness areas and preserve the wilderness legacy for future generations!
Map showing recreational areas. Map Information