The Rankin Ridge Fire Tower is located in the northwestern portion of Wind Cave National Park. Situated at an elevation of 5,013 feet, the highest point in the national park, the tower provides a panoramic view of southeastern Black Hills and the surrounding Great Plains. It was constructed in 1956 and remained in regular use during fire seasons until 1998. Currently, the tower is only used sporadically to look for fires or to monitor severe weather conditions and, for safety reasons, is not open to the public.
The Rankin Ridge area became part of the national park on August 1946 when more than 16,000 acres of the former Custer Recreation Demonstration Area (RDA) were added to Wind Cave National Park. It was named after Wind Cave's first superintendent: William A. Rankin.