Harney Peak – Black Hills, South Dakota

Black Elk Peak

It’s Black Elk Peak. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names officially renamed Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak on August 11, 2016. Check out Harney Peak Revealed (print and kindle editions available) for more information on both Black Elk and General Harney.


At 7,242 feet, Harney Peak stands prominently as the highest point in the Black Hills of western South Dakota. Standing sentinel over the Black Hills, Harney Peak is topped by a stone fire tower providing a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape. Nestled in a designated wilderness area, and surrounded by the Black Hills National Forest, it is accessible by hiking a 3.5 mile trail starting from Custer State Park.

The granite highpoint is sacred ground to Native Americans, especially the Sioux Lakota. It was upon this peak towering over the Lakota Nation that a young Black Elk experienced a vision. Many years later he would recount that vision publicly as he evolved as a respected elder and medicine man.

View from Harney Peak

A commanding view of the Black Hills from atop Harney Peak.

The historic Harney Peak fire lookout tower built upon the remote summit remains as an abandoned shell and is open to the public. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930’s, the primary building material was native stone that was manually hauled the three miles to the summit.

Harney Peak has served witness to a wide variety of historical events and people. General Custer famously attempted to ride his horse to the summit, and nearly made it. Burros were once used to transport visitors along the rugged trail. Harney Peak was being considered for a majestic mountain carving, when Gutzon Borglum eyed the barren Mount Rushmore in the distance and determined it was perfectly fit for the presidential carving.

Harney Peak Revealed: A Natural, Historical and Cultural Gem in South Dakota’s Black Hills captures all the historical tidbits and provides an amazing collection of information and photos documenting the splendid summit. Harney Peak Revealed: A Natural, Historical and Cultural Gem in South Dakota’s Black Hills is available in both paperback and Kindle e-book formats in local bookstores in the Black Hills, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and at other retailers.

The Black Hills Region is speckled with grand monuments, forested hillsides, rolling plains, abundant wildlife and granite spirals. Hiking trails meander through the Black Hills providing an opportunity to see the natural wonders up close. The many cities and towns throughout the Hills provide a wide variety of lodging, restaurants and shopping experiences.

Harney Peak

Harney Peak Revealed – Available in Paperback and Kindle! This well researched book contains all the history of South Dakota’s highest peak.