Updated: Feb 20, 2019
The formation known as 'The Castles' is a registered National Natural Landmark located in northern South Dakota. It is as stunning as it is remote. Found within the Slim Buttes region of the Custer Gallatin National Forest, The Castles got their name from their resemblance to actual medieval castles.
You can access The Castles by heading out to Slim Buttes, located between Buffalo and Reva, South Dakota. This place is a great detour if you're traveling along Highway 85 or Highway 79. These two roads are connected by Highway 20, which is where you'll find Reva Gap Campground & Picnic Area.
Reva Gap Campground & Picnic Area is a terrific little spot with camping and picnicking. There is no running water, and you have to pack your own garbage back out, but this quiet little place is a hidden gem. The scenery is amazing. There are shady camping spots and picnic tables in the middle of fantastic rock formations. Drive or walk to the back of the grounds where you'll find The Castles. You can choose the trail that goes down and through them or the trail that goes up and overlooks them. We chose to walk up above the formations, as this type of terrain can spell trouble for our canine friends. Be on extra alert for rattlesnakes and other nasty things during the warm months. We visited in autumn, which seemed to be the perfect time to go!
There are several trails in the Slim Buttes area, but this is just a short walk up the hill to overlook the scenery. It's a very cool place to stop; like an oasis of rock formations in the middle of the prairie. This is a great spot to get out, stretch your legs, and take in the Slim Buttes sights before continuing on the highway.
On a stretch of road where there is nothing but prairie around for miles, this was a welcome break. It's quiet and beautiful, and a nice place to walk around when the weather is crisp. The dogs were happy to get out and explore for a bit, and even marveled at the sights along with me. Everyone enjoyed this place and would happily go back again.