“A trail to the summit of a sacred mountain with amazing views and religious reflection.
— ktboundary Thompson
Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This is an exposed trail that is subject to high wind and scorching heat (or frigid cold). The trail is rocky, but the views are worth the effort.
The religiousness and sacredness of the site may be an experience, but if ceremonies are taking place, it would be prudent to run another day to be respectful.
Please stay on the trail and respect those participating in religious activities. Do not disturb or photograph prayer cloths and tobacco ties. A buffalo herd roams the base of the butte. Buffalo are dangerous, please do not approach. Possession or consumption of alcohol at Bear Butte State Park east of Highway 79 is prohibited. Bear Butte is a sacred site for many people and will be respected as such.
Need to Know
During your visit, you'll see colorful pieces of cloth and small bundles or pouches hanging from the trees. These prayer cloths and tobacco ties represent the prayers offered by individuals during their worship. Please respect these offerings and leave them undisturbed.
The mountain is sacred to many American Indian tribes who come here to hold religious ceremonies. Please be respectful of worshipers and their religious practices.
Watch for rattlesnakes and bison. Be respectful of any ceremonies.
Start from the parking lot and head through pine trees and prairie up switchbacks. Go through several rock outcroppings before heading up towards the summit. This section passes through some scree and talus and continues to switchback up the mountain. The trail reaches the summit with a viewing platform and information about the surrounding view. Take a few minutes to look at the vast expanse of prairie, the northern Black Hills and the town of Sturgis.
Flora & Fauna
Wildlife includes turkey, deer, bison, and rattlesnakes. Binoculars are helpful in spotting bison on the plains as you head up the trail. There are many wildflowers, but also poison ivy, so keep your eyes open. Birds include Western Meadowlarks, Black-billed Magpies, Spotted Towhees, Mountain Bluebirds, and a variety of warblers.
History & Background
For history on this trail visit the Bear Butte State Park
website, provided by South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks.