Experience Americas Most Treasured Roads
Although the Blacks Hills were the first area of Wyoming to be explored, in many ways they were also the last. Joseph and Francois Verendrye, French-Canadian explorers, visited portions of Montana and northeastern Wyoming as early as 1743, but it wasn’t until the railroad arrived that the area became home to more than a few trappers and stockmen. To these early venturers, the Black Hills seem to rise out of nowhere, peeking their heads out of the vast expanse of the Great Plains. Covered in millions of acres of evergreen trees, the hills appear very dark from a distance, hence the name black; a stark contrast to the serene, open grasslands that spread before you. The beauty belies the 1.8 billion year old volcanic activity, and an untold amount of wind and rain that gave the Hills their signature angles and tilts. Very important in the lives of Native Americans in the area, the Sioux and Cheyenne believe the Black Hills were the axis mundi, or sacred center of the world, and the Lakota assigned the name, “Pahá Sápa,” or “hills that are black.” You can enjoy this incredible landscape on the Black Hills Scenic Byway, 46 stunning miles of panoramic vistas that serve as the western gateway to the Black Hills National Forest. Curve through fantastic rock formations and over tumbling streams as bighorn sheep, American bison, and three-toed woodpeckers pop out from behind the Ponderosa pines.