Jaunt was into the Buffalo Gap National Grassland into Railroad Buttes. This area is one of a few large, open off-road riding areas on Forest Service lands, it covers roughly 3 square miles. The area has hill climbs, several trails and tons of dirt-bike tracks which means it's great for Jeeps, OHV, and other 4 wheel drives, too. Most of the terrain is hardpacked and can get really dusty, there is little to no shade though a lot of people love it for the hiking and rock hounding. There is a large parking/staging area with plenty of space and the only official toilet for miles. There are no fees or permits required. Dispersed camping is allowed but there is no potable water. Fireworks and shooting are prohibited. Cell service ranges from superb to nil depending on where you're at in the area. As it is grasslands, leave the fence how you find it though there are signs in some areas.
On one side of the Buttes you can see the Black Hills and Black Elk Peak, on the other side you can see into the Badlands. If you're looking for rocks, you can find Fairburn, Prairie, Water, and Bubble Gum Agates, Quartz, Rose Quartz, and Smokey Quartz pebbles and occasional fossil shell imprints, agatized fossils embedded in them in any of the numerous agate beds or even on the trail itself. There is petrified wood everywhere. If you find a rock and you have questions, take it to the School of Mines' Museum. The Geology students are super helpful.
Tim and I love that spot immensely but over the last few months when we've gone out it's been more and more trashed. Ty was gracious enough to help us get a group of people together to go clean up the garbage and shotgun shells left behind. We managed several bags by the end of the trip.
But first we took the group on a little trip through the Buttes, there were a few areas that definitely had you rethinking your choices and we made sure to get pictures or film of as many as possible.
If you're planning on taking a trip out there, something you should know is that it is super easy to get turned around on the trails out there. You have to be careful and double check that your 4 wheel track isn't actually a dirt bike trail. Even with Avenza, Gaia and Google maps-we managed to get turned around a few times ourselves today. There are a few trails that on the other side of the hill were re-routed or closed. Just take your time and have some fun, we sure did!
Written by : Amy T
Photos : Noah M, Ty B, Amy T