Mato Paha or “Bear Mountain” is the Lakota name given to the unique formation at Bear Butte State Park, a lone mountain, not a flat-topped “butte” as its name implies. It is one of several intrusions of igneous rock that formed millions of years ago along the northern edge of the Black Hills.
This mountain is sacred to many American Indians, and thousands visit the ceremonial area each summer During your visit, you may see colorful pieces of cloth and small bundles hanging from the tree which represent the prayers offered by individuals during their worship. Please respect these offerings and leave them undisturbed.
A lakeside use area provides 15 basic campsites near Bear Butte Lake. A small bison herd roams the base of the mountain. An interpretive center provides insight into the historical and cultural significance of the mountain. During summer months, the center is staffed from 9 AM to 5 PM daily. Special group arrangements are encouraged. Guided hikes are also available with prior notice. A hiking trail winds its way around the slopes of Bear Butte. At the summit, you’ll discover a breathtaking view of four states. The park also serves as the northern trailhead for the 111-mile Centennial Trail. In respect to religious activities that take place on the mountain; the park is managed for day-use only. Trails are open to visitors from 8 AM to 7 PM. Because of its natural and historical heritage, Bear Butte State Park has been designated as a National Natural Landmark and a National Recreation Trail.
KEYHOLE STATE PARK
On the northwestern slopes of the Black Hills, Wyoming’s Keyhole State Park recreation area is located between Sundance and Moorcroft, and is easily accessed off I-90 at exit 165, or take exits 153 or 564 in Moorcroft then Hwy 14 north six miles then Hwy 113.
Keyhole offers approximately 14,720 acres of water recreation opportunity. The elevation is about 4,100 feet and the four seasons are comparatively mild, providing some of the finest snowmobiling in the state.
The magnetism of names like “Sundance” and “Devils Tower” draw the traveler. The area was reserved by treaty for the Sioux tribes until the great Black Hills gold rush in 1874. Keyhole State Park was named for the “Keyhole” livestock brand that was used by the McKean brothers that owned a local ranch.
Keyhole State Park, situated along the southeast shore of Keyhole Reservoir within sight of Devils Tower, offers excellent fishing for walleye, catfish, small mouth bass and northern pike. Approximately 225 species of birds can be observed at or within a mile of park boundaries. During the summer the most abundant species include the White Pelican, Osprey, Common Yellowthroat and Savannah Sparrow. Winter birds include Bald Eagles, Red and White-Breasted Nuthatches and Red Crossbills. Ask at park headquarters for a complete bird list. Other type of wildlife including mule deer, white tailed deer, and wild turkeys.
A marina and motel are located on Headquarters Road, adjacent to the lakeshore. Keyhole has nine campgrounds overlooking the lake with more than one hundred and seventy sites with tables and grills. Most of the sites will handle large RVs and trailers. Tent or RV camping is possible at all sites. Some of the campgrounds are in the trees, and some are in the open.
South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks
Island in the Plains – A Black Hills Natural History by Edward Raventon
Wyoming Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources