Wind Cave National Park Highpoint Trip Report

Date: July 23, 2011
Author: Fred Lobdell

The national park HP lies just east of SD 87. The approach given here is from the south. You can get to this point on SD 87 from the north also, but that entails driving through Custer State Park and paying their entry fee.

From the intersection of US 16, US 385, & SD 89 just west of Custer, SD, drive south on 385/89 about 12 miles to the hamlet of Pringle. SD 89 continues south, but you want to turn left (east) on US 385. Take this 6 or 7 miles to the junction with SD 87, and turn left (north). The road to the Rankin Ridge Lookout Tower will be about 4 or 5 miles on the right (east) side, and is well signed.

There is an interesting spot on SD 87 where the road goes over a bridge and immediately makes a sharp 270-degree curve to the left, passing under the same bridge it just went over.

Turn right onto the lookout tower road and take it to a large parking area. The road continues to the summit, but there is a chain across it at this point. This is at about the 4,700-foot level. Here the park people have made a 1.5 mile loop trail, using the road for the southern part of it. I walked this trail in a clockwise direction, but if all you're interested in is getting to the HP and leaving, the road is probably a more efficient and slightly shorter option.

The tower had a chain that bore a sign, "Authorized Personnel Only". It was, I presume, supposed to be across the bottom of the stairs, but someone had left it dangling and the way up was unimpeded. I thought the highest point might be some boulders about 30 feet northwest of the tower.