Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary
Wild horses are icons of the American West. In 1971, as a result of public outcry at their shrinking populations, Congress enacted a law to protect wild horses (and burros) and to charge the Bureau of Land Management with their protection.
Populations began to recover as a result of the law and in order to manage herd size, animals were removed from the range and sold at auction. For horses that were “unadoptable,” generally meaning over 10 years old or offered for auction three times without success, slaughter was allowed.
In 1988, Dayton Hyde, an author and conservationist, established a sanctuary for unadoptable horses. The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary (Hwy. 71 South, 605/745-7494 or 800/252-6652, www.wildmustangs.com, visit website or call for tour schedules and reservations) is situated on 11,000 scenic acres bordering the Cheyenne River and is located about 12 miles south of Hot Springs off of Highway 71.
The sanctuary offers four tours to the general public. The 2-Hour Guided Bus Tour (adult $50, senior $45, child $15) travels into the fields so that guests can watch the horses and stops at scenic overlooks to allow for photography. Visitors have the chance to get off the bus and meet the horses, are taken to Native American ceremonial sites, have the opportunity to view petroglyphs located on the property, and to see the set where the film Crazy Horse was filmed. The tour includes information about the history of wild horses in the West, and about Native American and pioneer history.
The 3-Hour Cross Country Tour (adult $100, child $75) is a private guided tour limited to just three people. More time is spent with the horses and more stops for photographs are made at scenic locations on the wild horse sanctuary property. It is a very beautiful piece of land. The Cheyenne River runs through the property and the views of the Black Hills just to the north are lovely.
The Adventure Tour ($750 for up to three people) is a six-hour guided tour that explores some of the more remote areas of the sanctuary by four-wheel-drive. This tour is limited to three people and includes a picnic lunch.
The Photographer’s Tour ($250) is a four-hour guided tour by four-wheel-drive specially designed for photographers. There are many stops and photographers are allowed to exit at many locations to take close-up photos of the herd.
Visitors are allowed to visit the property without taking a tour, however, they are not allowed in beyond the gift shop. The gift shop specializes in Wild Horse Sanctuary t-shirts, caps, and other merchandise, and also features books by Dayton Hyde, the founder of the sanctuary. All proceeds from tours and the gift shop are used to benefit the sanctuary.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition