If you are in the area of the Black Hills in Wyoming and want a place to camp a night or two, take a look at Keyhole State Park. This Wyoming state park is located along the western edge of the Black Hills between Sundance and Moorcroft, Wyoming. It is within sight of Devils Tower National Monument. The park is named after the “Keyhole” brand of livestock established by the McKean brothers, who once had a ranch in the area.
The main attraction at the park is the Keyhole Reservoir, a man made lake with nearly 15,000 acres of water. The park is situated along the southeast shore of the reservoir and offers several public boat ramps and easy access to the water from most of its campgrounds. The park is at an elevation of about 4000 feet and the scenery consists of sandstone outcroppings, rolling hills, and pine forests.
Keyhole State Park has ten campgrounds, with a total of more than 170 campsites. Five campgrounds offer gravel and cement pads that can accommodate trailers and RV’s, including large RV’s. If you are looking for a more primitive camping experience, several campgrounds offer undeveloped and tent camping sites. One campground, Coulter Bay, has walk-in tent camping among the rock cliffs. Seven campgrounds have direct access to the reservoir, while the Pronghorn, Homestead, and Cottonwood campgrounds are located farther away. Pat’s Point, Wind Creek, and Coulter Bay campgrounds have public boat launch areas. The Tatanka, Pat’s Point, and Cottonwood campgrounds offer day-use shelters. For families with children, the Pat’s Point and Cottonwood campgrounds have playground equipment. Almost all the campgrounds have fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, and water hydrants either at the site or within walking distance of the site. None of the campgrounds offer full electrical, sewage, or water hookup.
Back country camping is also permitted. Even though the campgrounds are open year-round, restrooms and drinking water systems are discontinued between October 1st and May 1st. There is a privately-owned marina and motel in the park, operated by a concessionaire. Campers and other visitors can buy gas, groceries, alcohol, bait and tackle, and fishing licenses from the concessionaire. The marina has a public boat ramp and showers.
Fishing is one of the biggest attractions at the park. Keyhole Reservoir is especially good for the elusive walleye and northern pike species, as well as catfish and small mouth bass. Campers and visitors can enjoy hiking trails of moderate difficulty and mountain biking trails, as well as many options for winter sports. The reservoir is a popular site for ice fishing, and the combination of flat terrain and rolling hills makes it an ideal spot for cross country skiing and snow-shoeing enthusiasts. Non-aquatic wildlife in the area includes pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys, and several species of deer. The park is also a good place to see sagebrush and wildflower species, including mariposas and common evening primroses.
Keyhole State Park is one of the most popular places in the state for bird watchers to observe a wide variety of resident and migratory bird species. The park boasts approximately 225 bird species in both the summer and winter months. Some summer species that can be seen include white pelican, osprey, common yellowthroat, and savannah sparrow. In the winter avid bird watchers can see bald eagles, red and white-breasted nuthatches, and red crossbills.
If you would like more information about the park, including the option to download a brochure and make campsite reservations, see the following site: http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/Site/SiteInfo.asp?siteID=10. Like most state parks, Keyhole requires a daily use fee for residents and non-residents, with the option for an annual permit. These prices can be found on the site linked above, or you can contact the park’s main office by calling (307) 756-3596.