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506 PAHA SAPA - THE BLACK HILLS
Like sentinels keeping watch over the surrounding prairie, the towering granite peaks of the Black Hills rise several thousand feet above the surrounding prairie. The Black Hills are a lone series of mountains in the Great Plains, located about one hundred miles west of the Rocky Mountains and cover an area 125 miles long and 69 miles wide in western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. They were formed 60 million years ago when limestone rocks were shifted by an "uplift" and then eroded by water. The Black Hills region is a diverse ecosystem and consists of rugged rock formations, forests, canyons, grasslands, streams, lakes, wetlands and caves. The Lakota Sioux, who found refuge in the Black Hills during harsh seasons, named the area Paha Sapa, "hills that are black," because of the black bark of the young Ponderosa Pines that cover the slopes of the hills.