You can really appreciate the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota from the back of a good saddle horse. You can ride among the tall pine trees, cross water, skirt granite cliffs or take in panoramic views from lofty mountain summits. You will find an unlimited number of horseback riding opportunities on the 1.2 million acres of public land. You may ride anywhere on National Forest Service land, including old and new logging roads. Please be respectful of the privately owned lands that intermingles with National Forest land and ask the owner permission before entering. Camping is permitted almost anywhere in the Black Hills National Forest as long as you don't build a fire.
Many vacationers trailer their own horses to the Black Hills, then ride on their own or join up with weekend treks organized by local horse clubs. Custer State Park is the most popular riding area, but much of the hiking trail network in the Hills is suited to trail riding. We even have "horse camps" located throughout the Black Hills. At these camps, the people-camping is primitive, but the horse camping is deluxe with corrals, water wells, feed bunks, picket posts and parking for you stock trailer.
There are several maps that can assist you in your horseback adventure in the Black Hills. Please stop at a National Forest Service Office or at the Black Hills Visitor Information Center to get one. An official Forest Service map shows not only public and private land, but also trails, tracks, mines, springs, fire lookouts. etc.
Riding your horse through the Badlands can also be an unforgettable experience through the 64,000 acres of eroded spires and mixed grass prairie. Horseback riding is permitted anywhere in the park unless posted otherwise. There are maps for sale at the visitors centers to help with some of the back country. Just remember to pack drinking water. There is no water for human consumption in the Badlands National Parks' backcountry. In fact your horse, unless used to it, will probably not drink the water either.
Things to See & Do
Visiting the Black Hills? There's so much to see and you don't want to miss anything!
Whether you're traveling alone or with your loved ones, we suggest you check out the following itineraries before making any plans:
President Grover Cleveland established the Black Hills National Forest in 1897 as the Black Hills Forest Reserve.
The Black Hills of South Dakota are home of the Great American Road Trip. Where miles of scenic byways and serene backcountry roads connect national and state parks and monuments with hundreds of attractions. Not to mention there are 1.2 million beautiful acres of the Black Hills National Forest in western South Dakota consisting of 3,157 miles of roads and 707 miles of trails for ATV, UTV and other off-road riders.
Custer State Park is famous for its bison herds, other wildlife, scenic drives, historic sites, visitor centers, fishing lakes, resorts, campgrounds and interpretive programs.
Marking the 100th anniversary of statehood, 1889 - 1989, the 111-mile Centennial Trail represents the diversity of South Dakota. The Trail crosses prairie grasslands near Bear Butte State Park and climbs into the Black Hills, high country, skirting lakes and streams until it reaches Wind Cave National Park near Hot Springs. The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks have combined their efforts to develop this Trail for you to enjoy.
Gentle horses. Expert guides and wranglers. Great scenery. They add up to Trail Ride, a great way for amateur (even never-ever) horsemen to enjoy being a cowboy in the great outdoors.
In the Black Hills and Badlands, there are a number of outfits that offer horseback excursions. You can choose from rides that last one-half-hour, one hour, two hours, half-day or full day. A one-hour ride is generally plenty for a greenhorn with a tender butt, and you can expect to pay around $30 to $45 for your hour-long adventure.
The Black Hills are full of monumental works of both man and nature, evident too in the world-class hiking, biking, motorized and non-motorized trail offerings one can find here. Whether hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, ATVing or snowmobiling, the uncrowded, natural surroundings of the Black Hills and Badlands are an outdoor mecca with over 450 miles spread across 75 different trails.
The Grand River National Grassland is comprised of 155,000 acres and is located in northwestern South Dakota near the state border with North Dakota.
Stretching 109 miles from Deadwood in the north to Edgemont in the southwest, the Mickelson Trail has become known far and wide for the highquality bicycling it offers.
With a surface of primarily crushed limestone and gravel, the trail currently has 15 trailheads which all offer parking, self-sale trail pass stations, vault toilets and tables. Most of the grades are gradual and gentle, with none exceeding four percent. Portions of the trail are considered strenuous.