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Bear Butte Summit Trail

Location In Bear Butte SP, 10 mi. NE of Sturgis on SD 79.
State(s) South Dakota
Counties Meade
Type Backcountry
Length 3.50 Miles / 5.63 Km Loop Trail? No
Allowed Uses Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Agency State
Entry Fee? Yes Parking Fee? No




photo: n Bear Butte State Park, western South Dakota, close to Sturgis; photo by Dana Garry, South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Dept.
n Bear Butte State Park, western South Dakota, close to Sturgis; photo by Dana Garry, South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Dept.

Mato Paha, or bear mountain, is the Lakota Indian name for this outstanding geological formation. In
actuality, it is the remains of a volcano that did not erupt. Geologists call it a laccolith. Legend says that
Bear Butte received its name because from a distance it looks like a sleeping bear.

Nearby campsites have been dated to be more than 4,000 years old. Through the centuries, thousands of people have come here to be inspired. American Indian people from over 15 tribes still come here to fast, pray, seek visions, present offerings to their sacred spirits and to undergo personal sacrifice.

Please show your respect to the people who are here for these purposes.

Visits by notable American Indian leaders such as Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Man Afraid, Little Wolf and
Sitting Bull are recorded in Bear Butteā€™s history. The earliest visits by Caucasian people began with the visit of the Verendrye Expedition in 1742. A succession of mountain men and scientists followed. In 1874, George Armstrong Custer led an expedition of 1,000 men to explore the Black Hills. Although his command camped a few miles south of the butte, several men accompanied Custer to the summit of Bear Butte. After Custer and his men verified the rumors of gold in the Black Hills, Bear Butte served as a landmark for prospectors and settlers who came seeking wealth.


Visitor Information

Date Opens: 1/1 - Date Closes: 12/31

Time Opens: Not Available - Time Closes: Not Available


Not Available


Additional Information

Width: 0 inches.

Primary Surface: Soil, Compacted

Secondary Surface: None

Average Grade: 0%

Elevation Low Point: Not Available

Elevation High Point: Not Available

Year Designated: 1971

Date Last Updated: 05/14/2013


Contact Information

Trail management:
South Dakota Dept. of Game, Fish & Parks
P.O. Box 688
Sturgis , SD 57785
(605) 347-5240


Related Webpages and Documents

Title Type Link
SD State Parks Website View/Download



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NOTE: The information on this web site and/or in this database is provided for the convenience of the public, trail managers, organizations, elected officials, etc. Neither the National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service, nor American Trails can guarantee that the information is accurate. Trail users are urged to inquire locally about weather, trail conditions, trail characteristics, fees, and regulations! The information on this web site and/or in this database should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government, and any mention of trade names, commercial products, or businesses does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government.




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