The Black Hills are a controversial portion of the United States: The Lakota, granted ownership of the mountains by the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, contend the federal government illegally appropriated the land after the discovery of gold attracted miners and settlers into the region. In recent years, the tribe has repeatedly refused monetary compensation from the government for the Hills.
There are plenty of hiking opportunities in the grasslands, ponderosa pine savannas, conifer forests and rock gardens of the Black Hills. Explore the paths of regional public land, like the Black Hills National Forest, Wind Cave National Park, Devils Tower and Jewel Cave national monuments or Custer State Park; or explore the 109-mile George S. Mickelson Trail, a multiple-use recreational path derived from the old Burlington Northern railroad route.
Established campgrounds can be found at most of the Hills' public refuges. Sleep near the otherworldly 1,267-foot spire of Devils Tower at the national monument's Belle Fourche Campground. Black Hills National Forest has 30 developed campgrounds, and also provides opportunity for dispersed camping in its backcountry.
Check out the bison and feral burros at Custer State Park, or scan for elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, coyotes and other creatures in the national forest.
Devils Tower is a popular climbing destination, but mountaineers should be respectful of the pinnacle's great sacredness to area Plains tribes. The National Park Service institutes a voluntary climbing ban during June, when many tribal ceremonies associated with the Tower take place.