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Black Elk Peak, Crazy Horse

Mountain · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Black Elk Peak is the highest natural point in South Dakota, United States. It lies in the Black Elk Wilderness area, in southern Pennington County, in the Black Hills National Forest. The peak lies 3.7 mi (6.0 km) west-southwest of Mount Rushmore. At 7,244 feet (2,208 m), it has been described by the Board on Geographical Names as the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Though part of the North American Cordillera, it is generally considered to be geologically separate from the Rocky Mountains. Lost Mine peak in the Chisos Mountains of Texas, at an elevation of 7,535 feet, is the easternmost peak within the continental United States above 7,000 feet.

It is also known as Hiŋháŋ Káǧa ('owl-maker' in Lakota) and Heȟáka Sápa ('elk black').

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which has jurisdiction in federal lands, officially changed the mountain's name from Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak on August 11, 2016, honoring Black Elk, the noted Lakota Sioux medicine man for whom the Wilderness Area is named.
In September 2016, a team of professional surveyors obtained precise GNSS data over the course of two days and found the highest natural rock to be at 7,231.32 feet (2,204.11 m) NAVD88 and a nearby secondary peak located approximately 300 feet south of the lookout tower and unofficially named "McGillicuddy's Peak", to be slightly lower at 7,229.41 feet (2,203.52 m) NAVD88. This is believed to be the only precise survey that has been made to determine the true elevation of this peak.
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290 reviews
  • My husband and girls (6 and 9) hiked this one morning while I did some work back at our campsite and they loved it. I was worried that it'd been too far for them but he said they loved it and never.....  more »
  • One of the highlights of our family trip. We did the hike on trail #9 from Sylvan Lake up to Black Elk Peak. It was an awesome hike up and getting to the top was incredible. It is so awesome. We.....  more »
  • Had a great time hiking. It took us quite some time as we hiked with young kids. But it was doable. Views are amazing along the way and well worth the hike when you get to the top.  more »
  • This hike is very nice. I came during sunset hours. The view here is the best. In fact, this peak is the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains! The hike is said to take 3-4 hours. To hike to and from, I did it in 2 hours. But I stayed a half an hour at the top to enjoy the view. Funny story, on the way back it was dark. We used eight lights to flash the people at the peak. They flashed us too, it was pretty fun. The hike has a slight increase all the way up. It is moderately easy. I would definitely recommend anyone to come if they want a rewarding hike!
  • Awesome hike! We were there when there was a nearby forest fire in Custer State Park, so we had to register our names with the ranger just in case we turned up missing. The view up top was so cool, with the smoke off in the distance. Luckily the fire was contained.
  • Great views from the top. Make sure to start your hike early - I was one of the first on the summit around 8:15, and on my way down, I just kept passing groups of people, so I can only assume that the peak was fairly crowded. It was cool to have the summit to myself for a little bit - a very spiritual experience.
  • Love hiking Harney Peak!
  • Best hike in the black hills, by far! We did the loop, the strenuous hike on the way up and the easier terrain on the way day (we didn't know it at the time). Took about four hours round trip. Saw a couple snacks and rodents but no other wildlife. Views from the top were priceless.

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