Hiking in Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills

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Hiking

Fossil Exhibit Trail and Cliff Shelf Nature Trail are must-dos, but even these popular trails are primitive, so don't expect to see bathrooms or any hiking surfaces other than packed dirt and gravel. Because the weather here can be so variable, rangers suggest that you be prepared for anything. Wear sunglasses, a hat, and long pants, and have rain gear available. It's illegal to interfere with park resources, which includes everything from rocks and fossils to plants and artifacts. Stay at least 100 yards away from wildlife. Because of the dry climate, open fires are never allowed. Tell friends, relatives, and the park rangers if you're going to embark on a multiday expedition. If you have a cell phone with you, assume that it won't get a signal in the park. But most important of all, be sure to bring your own water. Sources of water in the park are few and far between, and none of them are drinkable. All water in the park is contaminated by minerals and sediment, and park authorities warn that it's untreatable. If you're backpacking into the wilderness, bring at least a gallon of water per person per day. For day hikes, rangers suggest you drink at least a quart per person per hour.

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Gear Up!

Located in the Rushmore Mall, Scheels All Sports is an everyday, all-purpose outfitter. Whatever outdoor activity you have in mind, Scheels provides equipment and advice for locals and visitors alike. Whether it's for golf, paintball, biking, or hiking, Scheels offers top-of-the-line equipment at only slightly inflated prices. At this writing, Scheels was planning to open a larger store a few miles east, just off Exit 60 along Iā€“90, of its current Rapid City location in Spring 2009. 480 Rushmore Mall, 2200 N. Maple Ave., Rapid City, SD. 605/342ā€“9033. www.scheelssports.com.

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