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Black Elk Peak, South Dakota

Mountain · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney 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 7,242 feet (2,207 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 furthest east 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' in lakota).

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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Black Elk Peak reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
278 reviews
  • This is a long hike, 8 miles round trip and is moderately strenuous because of the distance and ascent. However, it is well worth the effort. You climb to the highest point in the US east of the...  more »
  • I read a lot of reviews before going on the hike. I rode my bike from the KOA campground near Mt Rushmore to the Palmer Creek trail head. Easy ride of 1.3 miles. You could drive there but there are...  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.

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