Forest Visitors Face Wet, Hazardous Weekend Conditions

Pactola Visitor Center in the Black Hills National Forest
Pactola Visitor Center in the Black Hills National Forest

Custer, SD – With widespread flooding and other weather events dominating the news, it’s easy to miss local, hazardous weather conditions. Officials with the Black Hills Forest Service have issued a general advisory for Memorial Weekend visitors.

Teams of engineers began assessing damage and marking washed out roads and hazardous areas on Wednesday and will continue through today. They are locating and marking or closing hazardous sections of roads and trails but will not be able to find every problem area. 

While folks are encouraged to have fun this weekend, they are also warned to be prepared for bad roads, wet weather, and high water.  Pactola Visitor Center will be open all weekend and people may call for information or to report problems.  Call 911 for emergencies.

A number of trails in the Black Elk Wilderness are impassable due to running water or deep standing water.  Dead trees and live trees with weak roots standing in saturated soil can fall without warning.  Rocks on roadside hills and roads made soft from heavy rain are hazards as well, rangers said.

Rangers also tell visitors not to take anything for granted and to be prepared for various challenges by packing chain saws; axes or handsaws; shovels; emergency communications and supplies in case washed out roads or falling trees or mud slides leave them stranded.

And as we often report on behalf of law enforcement and search and rescue personnel, it's important to let people know where you are going and when you are coming back.

Washed out or muddy roads and trails include the Centennial Trail with very deep ruts filled with water in places. Do not drive or walk in standing water without testing the depth and the bottom. 

The Deerfield and Ditch Creek road system is wet and hazardous in many places. 

The Bohls Canyon Road on the west side of the Forest is closed north of highway 385.

Willow Creek Horse Camp is closed.  The entrance washed out and was temporarily repaired, but engineers easily pushed a piece of re-bar 3½ feet through the gravel patch.  The campground is closed until things dry out. 

Shore fishing in Black Hills lakes should be okay, but boat ramps and other facilities at Black Hills lakes may not be usable because some beaches are partially or completely under water.

Fishing in Black Hills rivers will be difficult because of murky muddy water, and the rivers are really flowing.

For more information go to www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills or call the Pactola Visitor Center at 605-343-8755

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