Named by the Lakota Sioux for the dark appearance that the thick covering of Ponderosa pine gave to the slopes, the Black Hills represent an ancient, mountain range/region covering 5000 square miles of southwestern South Dakota and eastern Wyoming. This oval patch of mountains was sacred to the Lakota people.
The region was settled by Europeans in the 1870s, when the discovery of gold started a mining boom. The Homestake Gold Mine is still one of the world's largest gold-producing mines. Historic mines and camps dot the landscape; other points of interest include Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.
The Black Hills Visitor Information Center, off I-90 at Exit 61, offers picnic and pet exercise areas, exhibits, maps and brochures.