Starting Something New: Places to go in the Black Hills

For the next few months we’re going to talk about some of the hidden gems of the Black Hills and how to best enjoy them.

This month we’re talking about Rochford and Mystic!

They’re little villas in the heart of the Hills but they’re packed with beautiful scenery and great history. It’s also a great place to get outdoors for some exercise, even in the winter months.

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Most people known Rochford for the Moonshine Gulch Saloon. This tiny tavern offers food, refreshments and is known for the artifacts (dollar bills, baseball caps) pinned to their walls. It’s also known for owner Betsy Harn. It’s definitely not a big-city kind of diner, but it’s a perfect place to grab a burger and beer just after you’ve hit the trails.

The other main business in Rochford is the ‘Small of America’, a tiny sundry store which also features art from local creatives.

Rochford is just off the George S. Mickelson Trail. During the spring, summer and fall you can ride your bike along the trail. There is deer and elk hunting nearby along with campsites. This time of year you can ATV the trail and enjoy the best of winter in the Black Hills.

Rochford gets a little crazy during Rally season, so we advocate checking it out in the off-season. Winter can be beautiful in the Hills and a great way to encourage your kids to participate in cold weather outdoor activities including hiking.

Near Rochford, Mystic is the home to a number of abandoned gold mines. General Custer and his team came through this little city in 1874, with Custer himself naming nearby Castle Creek during their stay. At one point (1879) there was a population of 100 in the mining camps around Mystic, but today it’s considered a ghost town. Still, you can find remnants of the gold mining history as well as the railroad that once rode through the area. A 1907 flood wiped out the railroad bridges. Mystic was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Don’t let the cold stop you and your family from exploring the best places in our region. You can also visit them in the summer but winter can be one of the most spectacular seasons to hike in Western South Dakota. Just follow our 7 Tips for Winter Hiking!

 

  1. Dress in layers: It’s better to have extra layers than not enough insulation.

  2. Start early: Winters bring early darkness to the Black Hills so get your hiking done while the sun is visible.

  3. Bring safety gear: trail maps, first aid kits, compass, pocket knife, hand-warming packets and a headlamp

  4. Check the weather!

  5. Bring one experienced hiker with you

  6. Invest in good gear. Check out the savings at Scheels for winter hiking gear.

  7. Bring plenty of food and water including both hot and cool liquids.

Enjoy your winter excursion to Mystic and Rochford!