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Fort Meade Recreation Area

map showing location of Ft. Meade Recreation Area in the South Dakota Field Office
The 6,693-acre Fort Meade Recreation Area is notable for its place in western history. This popular area is a mix of forest and midgrass prairie on the eastern foothills of the Black Hills, adjacent to Sturgis, South Dakota, in Meade County.

HISTORY: The early history of the area, and its strategic proximity to the Black Hills, may be the most significant feature of the area.  Its location between Bear Butte (sacred mountain of the American Indians) and the Black Hills was not only of great importance to the American Indian people but later played a significant role in the settlement of South Dakota.  A portion of the area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort George W. Meade was established in 1878 as a cavalry fort to protect the new settlements in the northern Black Hills, especially the nearby gold mining area around Deadwood.  Several stage and freighting routes passed through Fort Meade enroute to Deadwood.

For most of the past 120 years, there has been some military presence at Fort Meade.  Many cavalry and infantry units were stationed here, including the 7th Cavalry after the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the Buffalo soldiers of the 10th Cavalry, and the 4th Cavalry which saw the transition from horses to mechanization. Fort Meade still serves as a training site for the South Dakota National Guard and an Army National Guard Officer Candidate School. 

A variety of structures and features dating as far back as the 1870s are present. Many of these remants of early cavalry life remain in good condition. Some examples include Curley Grime's grave, stone cavalry jumps, rock carvings, Fort Meade Post Cemetery, Ute Indian campsite, and Camp Fechner--an old Civilian Conservation Corp camp and World War II POW camp. The ruts of several historic trails, used for transport of passengers and freight, are still visible in places.  The Fort Meade Museum features an in-depth history of Fort Meade.

The area is currently being managed for wildlife, cultural resources, grazing, forestry, and a variety of recreational uses under the multiple use-management concept.

The Fort Meade Recreation Area offers a broad variety of resource based recreational opportunities which include archery, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, camping, birdwatching, bicycling, picnicking, nonmotorized winter sports, sightseeing, and pleasure driving on a national backcountry byway.

The annual Sturgis/Ft. Meade Volksmarch is held on the south half of the unit. This sanctioned walking event is sponsored by the Sturgis/Ft. Meade Volksport Association and the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce.

Additional information:

Adjacent Attractions:
Fort Meade Museum
Old Fort Meade Cemetery
Black Hills National Cemetery
Bear Butte State Park
Black Hills Motorcycle Classic

Last updated: 05-01-2014