Rock Climbing in the Black Hills of South Dakota
The Black Hills of South Dakota is a great place to rock climb due to the multitude of summits within its miniature mountain range. Black Hills granite is sharp and abrasive but is almost always sound. The Needles-Sylvan Lake district of the Harney Range in the Black Hills is a popular area for climbing. About 1,000 towering granite spires offer climbs ranging from bouldering to 300-foot ascents. Sports shops in Rapid City, Hill City, Spearfish and Keystone stock climbing equipment, maps and guidebooks. There are also several local outfitters offering climbing lessons, gear and guided climbs.
RAPID CITY AND THE BLACK HILLS CLIMBING AREAS
Packing Plant Boulders (Founders Rock) - More Information
These are a series of boulders and small cliffs along the hogback ridge in the middle of town located in Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park, just off of Founders Park Dr. The Vegan Boulder is an excellent overhanging boulder and there is more bouldering and top-roping further up the ridgeline.
Nearest City: Rapid City
Directions: From Rapid City, turn north from Omaha Street onto 12th Street (near the Executive Golf Course) and continue across the bridge on Founders Park Dr. parking lot on left side of the road. There is an access trail along the creek that heads toward the boulders.
Rock Maze - More Information
The rock maze is a fantastic bouldering area on perfect sandstone not far from Rapid City. The outer portions of the maze have great problems and the inner corridors are fun to explore. The Rock Maze is a small area, but is filled with many fun, moderate boulder problems. Many good and interesting ones are in the V5 and under range. Most rocks are around 10 feet high or under Sandstone, with a few traverses and higher problems. Watch for broken glass and other debris.
Nearest City: Nemo
Directions: From Rapid City, take West Chicago Street west, which becomes Nemo Road, approximately 14 miles to the Steamboat Rock picnic area on right, park here. Cross the road and start where you see the trail being blocked by large boulders. Hike south up the closed road, then shortly after take a left on a faint road. Follow this road as it parallels the rocks that are just to the left. Take a left at the hill crest and walk for a minute or so to the main area.
Cliffs of Dune - More Information
The Cliffs of Dune is a relatively unvisited and undeveloped climbing area offering a little of everything; cracks, faces, and even a cool roof to pull on. Only a few routes are bolted. Located off Norris Peak Road, about 8-10 miles west of Rapid City.
Nearest City: Rapid City
Directions: From Rapid City, take West Chicago Street west, which becomes Nemo Road, continue approximately 8-9 miles and turn left or south on Norris Peak Road (the road connecting Nemo Road and Rimrock Highway). At exactly 1.1 miles on Norris Peak Rd, you'll come to a stretch in the road, and you'll see a small/medium sized boulder on the left. Pull off here and park on the shoulder. From the boulder walk straight into the woods and up the hill until you come to one of many deer trails. Please use the deer trails to switchback up the hill, rather than soldiering your way straight up. This will minimize erosion in the area. It only takes about 5 minutes to hike to the base of the cliffs. Once at the base, the best way to get on top is to turn left and after a short ways you'll see an easy third-fourth class scramble to the top.
Falling Rock - More Information
Falling Rock is a limestone canyon about 6 miles from Rapid City. The climbing is on edges and pockets on vertical to slightly overhanging walls that are around 40 feet high. There are top-rope anchors on most of the routes, and many are bolted for leading as well. Most climbs fall in the 5.8 - 5.11 range. The North Rim is a great place to climb in the winter, as the sun shines directly on the wall and the area is well-protected from the wind. In the summer the heat can be exhausting and be cautious for wasps nesting in the pockets and cracks - there's even a route on the North Rim named for this minor inconvenience.
Nearest City: Rapid City
Directions: From Rapid City drive west on Jackson Blvd, this becomes SD Hwy 44 or Rimrock Hwy. After cresting the big hill look sharp on the left for Falling Rock Road, marked by a small street sign. Turn left and park at the first lot for the north rim routes. Or continue on Falling Rock Rd another .7 miles to a pull-off on the left with an old blocked off dirt road for the north facing cliffs.
Experimental Forest - More Information
Incredible quality quartzite bouldering.
- Nearest City: Rapid City
- Directions: From Rapid City, follow SD Hwy 44 west. Take US Hwy 385 north going 4.5 miles past Trout Haven and Forest Rd 237. Turn left (west) on to Experimental Forest Rd FR 616 (good dirt) for 0.7 miles. Turn left on to FR 663 for 2.0 miles. Turn right onto FR 658 for 0.6 miles. Rocks on left on the high point of the hill. Inconspicuous. Hike to the left right before rock band on high point to get to the Huecoesque overhang. Considered one of the coolest roof problems in the Hills.
Mount Rushmore Area - More Information
The area around Mount Rushmore National Memorial offers many different rock climbing experiences and breathtaking views. For a complete list of climbing routes near Mount Rushmore, visit Sylvan Rocks Climbing School and Guide Service.