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U.S. Forest Service

Rocky Mountain Region Viewing Area


View of the White Spring area. An overview of the White Spring area taken in late July. Photo by Lisa Lam.

Gentiana affinis Pleated gentian (Gentiana affinis) just about to bloom. Photo by Heidi Molitor.

Campanula rotundifolia. Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) in bloom. Photo by Heidi Molitor.

Geum triflorum. Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) fruit. Photo by Heidi Molitor.

Campanula rotundifolia. Sticky geranium flower. Photo by Heidi Molitor.

White Spring Area

Forest: Black Hills National Forest

District: Hell Canyon Ranger District

Description: The White Spring area on the Hell Canyon District is one location of the wildflower-rich grassland community type identified as “Black Hills Montane Grassland”. This community type is endemic to the Black Hills and best developed on the Limestone Plateau in the western Black Hills. The area described here as the White Spring area is in Redbird Draw, just one of these special grasslands found on the Limestone Plateau.

Wildflower Viewing: In early spring (May to June) watch for the showy white patches of prairie chickweed (Cerastium arvense), the yellows of arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) and early cinquefoil (Potentilla concinna) and the distinct reddish-purple flowers of prairie smoke (Geum triflorum). Throughout the summer and early fall watch the colors change as the purples come out in the form of the ever-photogenic harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), silvery lupine (Lupinus argenteus) and sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum). Gunnison’s mariposa lily (Calochortus gunnisonii) and common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) add splashes of white while the abundant cinquefoils (Potentilla spp.) add yellow. In late August, as the grasses all start to cure, watch for the unique pleated gentian (Gentiana affinis).

Safety First: Be prepared for rapid changes in the weather. It is not unusual to have snow as late as May and as early as September, often on days that start out wonderfully sunny. Thunderstorms in late summer and early fall may be violent. The roads in this area are gravel or dirt, use caution. Some roads may be impassable in wet weather. This is open range; livestock may be on the roads.

Directions: To reach the White Spring area from Newcastle, Wyoming head west out of town on Highway 16 to Boles Canyon Road (approximately 8.5 miles). On Boles Canyon road (FSR 117) head north to Sixmile road (almost 15 miles), turn east on Sixmile road (FSR 301) for three miles to Briggs road (FSR 384). Follow Briggs road north for 1 mile to FSR 384 1B. The overview photo above was taken along FSR 384.1B. FSR 384.1B is a dead end; you will need to turn around and come back out to Briggs road.

Contact: Hell Canyon Ranger District, Newcastle, Wyoming, 307-746-2782.