|Elevation||7,244 ft (2,208 m) NAVD 88|
|Prominence||2,922 ft (891 m)|
|Listing||U.S. state high point|
|Pennington County, South Dakota, U.S.|
|Topo map||United States Geological Survey Custer|
|First ascent||July 24, 1875 by Valentine McGillycuddy and party|
|Easiest route||hike, Trail 9|
Harney Peak is the highest natural point in South Dakota and is located in the Black Elk Wilderness area, in southern Pennington County, in Black Hills National Forest. At 7,242 feet (2,207 m), it is also the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and the highest point in the Black Hills.
The first European Americans believed to have reached the summit were a party led by General George Armstrong Custer in 1874, during the Black Hills expedition. Custer, along with five other men rode on horseback much of the way, and Custer forced his mount higher after the others in his party had dismounted, which one of the party, engineer W. H. Wood, later described as "cruel."
Harney Peak is the site of the Sioux Native American Black Elk's "Great Vision" which he received when nine years old and the site to which he returned as an old man, accompanied by writer John Neihardt, who popularized the medicine man in his book Black Elk Speaks.[note 1]
Neihardt recorded Black Elk's words regarding his vision as follows: "I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world," he is quoted as saying in Neihardt's book. "And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being."
Harney Peak was first used as a fire lookout tower in 1911, with nothing more than a wood crate placed at the summit. In 1920, a 12'x12' wood structure was built, and it was expanded to 16'x16' the following year. The Civilian Conservation Corps completed construction on the stone fire tower in 1938. Harney Peak was last staffed in 1967 as a fire lookout tower.
The summit can be reached from Sylvan Lake, Camp Remington, Highway 244, Palmer Creek Rd., Mount Rushmore, or Horse Thief Lake. From the trailhead at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park, to the summit and back is about 7 miles (11 km), This is the shortest, least strenuous, and most popular route. No permit is required for use of the first portion of the trail. However, the United States Forest Service requires hikers to obtain a permit at a self-service kiosk located at the entrance to the Black Elk Wilderness area, en route to the summit.
An old stone tower, once used as a fire lookout tower, is located at the summit. The ashes of Valentine McGillycuddy were interred near the base of he tower and a plaque reads "Valentine McGillycuddy, Wasicu Wacan". Wasitu Wacan is Lakota for "Holy White Man."
See also 
- Outline of South Dakota
- Black Hills
- List of mountains in South Dakota
- List of U.S. states by elevation
- See chapter 3 and the Author's Postscript of Black Elk Speaks, Bison Books, 2004.
- "Harney". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2008-11-08.
- "Harney Peak, South Dakota". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2008-12-29.
- James R. Macdonald, Ph.D (2009). "Museum of Geology: History". Rapid City, South Dakota: South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
- "Harney Area Trailheads". South Dakota Fish, Game and Parks. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
- "Harney Peak". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
- Connell, Evan S. (1984). Son Of The Morning Star. San Francisco, California: North Point Press. pp. 237–238. ISBN 0-86547-160-6.
- "Harney Peak". SouthDakota.com. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
- Saum, Bradley D. (2013). Harney Peak Revealed. Createspace. pp. 34–36. ISBN 9781478316756.
- "Harney Peak". SummitPost.org. http://www.summitpost.org/page/150511. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
- "McGillycuddy House at the heart of city history". Retrieved 2012-11-12.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Harney Peak|
- Regenold, Stephen (2008-04-02). "High in the Black Hills, as Seasons Turn". The New York Times.
- "Facts About Harney Peak". Climbing.About.com.