Are you using a screen reader? Click here to view the navigation links for this site as a bulleted list.

Partner logos: BLM, FWS, FS, NPS, University of Montana Logo
Connecting federal employees, scientists, educators, and the public with their wilderness heritage
Text size: A | A | A  [Print]

Black Elk Wilderness

General Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws
Photograph taken in  the Black Elk Wilderness


The United States Congress designated the Black Elk Wilderness (map) in 1980 and it now has a total of 13,534 acres. All of this wilderness is located in South Dakota and is managed by the Forest Service.


The Black Elk Wilderness lies in the center of the Black Hills National Forest in western South Dakota. The wilderness encompasses the Harney Range, an area long held sacred by American Indians. The wilderness is named after Black Elk, a Oglala Lakota holy man. It is the only wilderness in the Black Hills. Deer, elk, turkey, mountain lions and a number of bird species make their home among the rugged granite spires. The wilderness is surrounded by the 35,000 acre Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, managed for the benefit of wildlife and breeding birds. Trails weave through the wilderness for primitive, non-motorized recreation experience. Trail #9 is a concentrated use area, if you are seeking solitude use an alternative trail such as Lost Cabin #2 (National Recreation Trail) or Grizzly Bear Creek #7 to reach Black Elk Peak. These routes are longer but provide a greater solitude experience.

Planning to Visit the Black Elk Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Black Elk Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

Give us your feedback