Bear Butte, South Dakota

February 25, 2004


Provided by: Mike Barondeau, Edmunds Central School
Summary authors & editors: Mike Barondeau

Bear Butte is an igneous intrusion or laccolith, which rises more than 1,200 feet (366 m) above the adjacent prairie. It's composed of rhyolite -- a fine grained igneous rock similar in composition to granite. This butte (an isolated mountain) was an early landmark and considered a sacred place by Native Americans. The higher portion is now a state park, and a relatively easy 1.7 mile (2.7 km) summit foot trail leads to the top from a visitor center on the south flank. The Lakota name for Bear Butte is Mato Paha (Bear Mountain). As you hike the trail, you'll notice colorful pieces of cloth and small bundles or pouches hanging from the trees. These prayer cloths and tobacco ties represent the prayers offered by individuals during their worship. Bear Butte is about 51 million years old and was formed about the same time as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota. It's located 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Sturgis, South Dakota, which is the home of the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

This picture was taken with a Canon PowerShot 350 digital camera.

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