Rolling Over Rocks in the Black Hills | Black Hills Travel Blog
  • Rolling Over Rocks in the Black Hills
    Rolling Over Rocks in the Black Hills

If you’re looking for some excitement in the Black Hills, bring your Rock-Crawler and roll over some mighty big rocks! What’s a “Rock-Crawler”? I’m glad you asked! I’m certainly not an expert, but there are those here that are. I tagged along with the 605 Jeeps Club (although I was riding in a Toyota), one sunny spring day and had a blast. This is a fun and exciting way to explore the Black Hills, and this group is committed to keeping everywhere they “crawl” as clean or cleaner than they found it. Permits are required to travel the trails, and it’s always good to have a trail map with you too. Don’t count on relying on your GPS, it often doesn’t work here in the “mystical” Black Hills!

I learned a lot before I even got into a “Crawler”. A Rock-Crawler is usually a highly modified four-wheel-drive Jeep, Toyota, or custom-made “buggy” —made for (literally) crawling over what would look like impassable terrain. They use oversized, low-pressure, knobby, mud-terrain tires, have a low-geared transfer case to make the most torque at the low speeds, and sometimes have after-market lift kits installed which raises the chassis—requiring my driver to physically “lift” me into the passenger seat!

We rocked and rolled through and over some pretty rough stuff (or so I thought) before we even got to the true challenge, “Jake’s Waterfall.” Aptly named, as when it rains water definitely “falls” over it! We were going over it too, but hopefully not falling.

This activity takes a considerable amount of skill—not only for the driver but for the “spotter” as well. Both need to be able to talk and understand each other. The spotter must know which way to turn the wheels to go over the rocks without getting the vehicle stuck. It’s essential they express their direction to the driver in a way they understand. The driver must listen to the spotter and, most of all, trust them as he/she can’t see what they are (attempting) to crawl over. It is a real test of teamwork!

As a passenger, I just sat there… white-knuckled and thinking “these people are crazy.” But then again, I was one of “those people” —at least for the day. After we all made it safely over Jake’s Waterfall, we gathered in a beautiful meadow, pulled out our coolers, and had some lunch.

You'll find that the group often will post an impromptu “run” on their Facebook page, and they do have a few organized events throughout the year, too. These are also posted on their Facebook page and usually require registration. The main event is typically held in late June and is called “605 On The Rocks”. The event covers four days in the Black Hills and ends with a big BBQ feed on Saturday evening. The 2017 event was held at Steel Wheel Campground in Deadwood. The 2018 dates are set for June 27-30; details can be found on their Facebook page. Along with camping and comradery, they have raffles which help to raise money for trail repair projects in the area. Additional money is also raised throughout the year and used to help support non-profit projects in the Rapid City area.

All in all, this is an exhilarating, but family-friendly activity. We had quite a few children along for the ride and as many female drivers as male. I found the group to be very welcoming and hopeful to have more visitors join them on their adventures!

About the Author

Cindy is a “country girl” at heart. She loves the outdoors, animals (particularly dogs and horses), camping, and exploring the Black Hills. While she has traveled and lived in many places across the U.S.—and some internationally—she is proud to call this area home for the last 20+ years. She is a Regional Sales Director for Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association and is passionate about helping Black Hills visitors discover all there is to see & do here.

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