3. A gift shop and restaurant are also on site. It occupies a centrally located superblock in downtown Rapid City and is by far the most popular outdoor staging ground for concerts, rallies, and other public events. Save 31% on Kids ages 5 – 12 and up to 24% for a family of four! Hiking The scenery in the Black Hills National Forest is stunning year-round. As one of the most visited corners of the Midwest, The Black Hills attracts travelers from all over the world. The drive between Interior and Scenic is a quick 30 minutes, not including stops for pictures (which you’ll want to make). 13 Best Cash-Back Credit Cards – Reviews & Comparison, 7 Best Low APR Interest Credit Cards – Reviews & Comparison, 18 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards – Reviews & Comparison, 15 Best Hotel Rewards Credit Cards – Reviews & Comparison, 11 Best Gas Credit Cards – Reviews & Comparison, 12 Best Credit Cards for College Students – Reviews & Comparison, 22 Best Small Business Credit Cards – Reviews & Comparison, 10 Best Secured Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit – Reviews & Comparison. Weather-wise, the best time to visit the Badlands and Black Hills is summer. The scenery in the Black Hills National Forest is stunning year-round. About 2,000 feet lower than Custer, Hot Springs is the Black Hills’ southernmost town of any significance. Black Hills Adventure Tours is representative: They specialize in sightseeing and adventure tours (hiking, biking, stand up paddle boarding), but seem pretty flexible and say up front that they’re happy to make “unscheduled pit stops.” Just know that guided tours are always more expensive than car rentals: Black Hills Above and Beyond Tours charges $95 per adult for its standard all-day tour, compared with $30 or less per day for a compact rental. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Wind Cave itself isn’t the only attraction here. A typical midwinter week might see highs in the 50s on Monday, whiteout conditions with gale-force winds on Tuesday or Wednesday, and lows south of minus 20 by Thursday or Friday. It’s also dirt cheap: $5 per vehicle, per night. If you’re looking to get out of the Mount Rushmore area with your budget intact, stick to the memorial itself. If you’ve seen the classic 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” you’ve seen Devils Tower. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Spanning more than 13,000 acres, it’s a beautiful mix of forested hills, lush ravines, and rocky outcrops – including Black Elk Peak, the highest point in South Dakota. Let’s just get the trail riding out of the way right up front then get to the other things that you may want to know. 18. Black Canyon offers night sky viewing opportunities throughout the year. Check Wind Cave’s hiking trails page for more details. Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota Tourism. Drive west on Wyoming Highway 450 from Newcastle, then south on Wyoming Highway 59 to Bill. If you’re willing to walk, there is a parking lot less than 1 mile west of the monument and you can walk in to save the $10. The Black Hills region roughly coincides with the extent of the Black Hills National Forest, which extends from Angostura Reservoir south of Hot Springs, to Spearfish and Sturgis in the north, to the Wyoming border in the west. While this massive project that started in 1948 isn’t finished yet and it will take many more years to complete, it aims to pay tribute to the tradition, culture and living heritage of American Indians, and the spirit of the legendary Lakota leader Crazy Horse. Spearfish Canyon is one of the most beautiful locations in the Black Hills – so stunning, in fact, that cinematographers chose it as the setting of the final scenes in “Dances with Wolves.” One of its highlights is Roughlock Falls, which offers a picturesque place to enjoy a picnic or to cast your line. Personally, I think Mammoth Site is the more interesting of the two. What to do for Kids Winter Fun . Lots of outdoor activities to enjoy, quite a few fun attractions and some big must-do items can all be found within a 30 mile radius. Don’t miss local historical and cultural attractions like Tatanka Story of the Bison (a museum celebrating the majesty of the bison; $10 adult admission, open daily in the warm season) and Historic Adams House, the best-preserved 19th century private residence in town ($10 adult admission, open daily in summer and Tuesday through Saturday in October and April). Just remember your camera! Have you ever been to this beautiful part of the United States? Check Spearfish Visitor Center’s things to do page for budget- and family-friendly ideas for year-round fun. Imagine a giant museum gift shop in a dated indoor shopping mall superimposed on an Old West town, with a bunch of weird stuff happening off in the corners. Located just north of Norbeck Pass on Badlands Loop, Fossil Exhibit Trail is a short, fully accessible boardwalk that guides visitors past hundreds of millions of years of Earth’s geological and paleontological history. See more ideas about Black hills, Fun events, Vacation planner. Be warned that the trail up Black Elk Peak isn’t a straight shot. Black Hills National Forest Hiking Trails, Hills-wide - There are 1.2 million acres of public lands in the Black Hills National Forest and dozens of trails within. As a rule, temperatures are lower and precipitation higher in the Black Hills than in the Badlands and the intervening grasslands. Unlike many Black Hills towns, Spearfish can plausibly claim to be a four-season destination. 40% off w/code: AQUAVAULT40, 40% Off! Jeep Trail Riding in South Dakota Black Hills. All told, you’re looking at less than two miles of level hiking here, and the views are well worth the time. The Gator Show features crocs, caimans, and alligators, while the Exotic Bird Shows offer the chance for intimate interaction with a variety of exotic birds, including a falcon, macaw, parrot and owl. Highlights include chronologically organized fossil dioramas with samples from the White River Badlands, mounted fossil skeletons (including some dinosaurs), and a fluorescent mineral room that’s apparently a hit with younger kids. You can view a gallery of photos from previous year’s events below: There are also countless wineries, breweries, boutiques and galleries to explore. Wind Cave is unique for multiple reasons, including two types of super-intricate rock formations – boxwork and frostwork – found almost nowhere else in the world. Even if you don’t stay for the duration, Rapid City is worth at least a day of your time – ideally, with an overnight stay thrown in. You don’t need to know anything about motorcycles to enjoy a quick stop at the make-agnostic, nonprofit Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame. The 1880 Train is a vintage steam train similar to the ones that helped settle the American West. For what it’s worth, my wife and I managed to escape without buying anything. Inside one of the largest cave systems in the world, you can expect to see unique calcite crystals, arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern, embedded in the limestone walls. We have fun for the entire family, including your furry friend. The Museum of Geology at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a rare bird: a totally free science museum devoted to the study of rocks and ancient life. Even if you’ve never been to this part of the country, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Sylvan Lake, consider the park’s crown jewel. There are plenty of legitimate places to buy genuine tickets for top-tier professional leagues - often at a substantial discount. The prospect of gold in the Black Hills was a big draw in 1876. No matter where your travels take you in this wide-open part of the world, you’ll want to check back here for guidance on when to visit, what to bring, how to get around, and where to stay. A tour through the history-rich ghost towns in South Dakota is sure to be a hit with the entire family and is only one of the many things to do in the Black Hills. 3. Explore the Night. It’s desolate even by High Plains standards – and unforgettable for precisely that reason. It’s free to enter and explore, there’s a self-serve bar with five-cent cups of coffee, the food court is surprisingly inexpensive for such a popular destination, and there are more locally (and not locally) produced crafts and trinkets on sale than you can shake a stick at. Camping is easier to come by at the last minute, as are accommodations on the region’s fringes: We booked a motel in Kadoka a week before we arrived with no trouble, and we arrived to find it about half-full the Thursday before Labor Day – hardly an occupancy emergency. If you’re not a biker, Sturgis is still worth a stop. Elk Mountain is a fun, not-too-strenuous jaunt that leads to great views. It anchors a busy tourist enclave rife with family-friendly attractions and diversions. Custer State Park, Black Hills, S.D. Deadwood offers the chance to relive the days of the Wild West. The Black Hills are a small mountain range in western South Dakota that extends into Wyoming. These are the top places to find good deals on cheap sports tickets. Visitors to Black Elk Wilderness get a glimpse of what the Black Hills was like before the arrival of European pioneers. Wind and Jewel Cave National Monuments. Take a spin through its five permanent galleries and past the singular Cyclorama Mural of American History. Toadstool is also the best (really, the only legal) place to camp in Oglala National Grasslands. Rapid City, which sits on the eastern slope of the Black Hills mountain range in western South Dakota, has been dubbed “The Gateway to the Black Hills.”From here, visitors can explore the Black Hills and Badlands, Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Bear Country USA, and the Black Hills Caverns, among other nearby attractions. The Dahl Arts Center is the headquarters of the Rapid City Arts Council. Even if you don’t plan to get out of the car but to snap some photos while you’re here, it’s worth devoting at least an hour to a leisurely drive along its full length – 31 miles in the park, and about 38 miles between its two junctions with Interstate 90. Notable overlooks along the byway include: The Badlands Wall is an imposing escarpment rising up to 1,000 feet above the prairie. Black Canyon provides a unique vertical environment for wildlife. A few years ago we took a family road trip to The Black Hills. Make sure you read my tips about visiting Badlands National Park and a great lodging option. Believe it or not, that’s enough to make it the second largest city in South Dakota, second only to Sioux Falls. Black Elk Peak (formerly known as Harney Peak) is the highest point east of the Rockies. June is the wettest month, with most rain falling in brief but violent thunderstorms. SC is Open | Free Night at Captain's Quarters, Air & 11-Day Tahiti Cruise on Windstar Star Breeze, 40% Off! The Palmer Creek Unit is the smallest and most isolated of the three. The underground environment showcases brilliant color and fragile rocks in an ecosystem that can’t be seen anywhere else. If you don’t have the time or inclination to drive for many hours or days before your vacation officially begins, fly into Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), the region’s sole commercial air travel hub. If you have time after your tour, or you just don’t want to test the limits of your claustrophobia, spend an hour or two hiking the park’s 30-plus miles of trails. Evans Plunge is an indoor and outdoor natural spring-fed mineral water pool that stays at a pleasant 87 degrees. The Door, Notch, and Window Trails all lie just southwest of Big Badlands Overlook, right off Badlands Loop. So I would recommend viewing a Black Hills visitors guide and … By extension, it’s western South Dakota’s fine arts nexus. Black Hills Fun Pass. It’s usually 10 to 20 degrees cooler in the Black Hills, depending on altitude. Make sure to add this fascinating, educational experience to your itinerary during your next Black Hills vacation. If you do have a few hours, check out the two major attractions in town: Evans Plunge Mineral Springs (a warm spring-fed indoor swimming pool and waterpark best suited for kids; admission is $10 to $14, depending on age) and Mammoth Site of Hot Springs (admission, including a video and dig site tour, is about $11). The Rapid City Arts Council can help facilitate your application from out of town – look them up as soon as your visit is set in stone. Hell Canyon Trail, a 5.3-mile trek, will bring you to limestone cliffs with amazing views of the canyon and surrounding area. This is the only place in the U.S. that allows you to go inside a decommissioned missile silo. Tour the lavish Adams House, a Queen Anne-style mansion, view interesting exhibits at Adams Museum, pan for gold at the Lost Boot Mine and even watch a good ‘ol fashioned shootout, with a cast of talented entertainers reenacting the historic events on Main Street throughout the summer each year. I’m pretty much focusing on the outdoors and stuff that isn’t too touristy, but beyond what’s listed here, you’ll find all kinds of tourist attractions in the Black Hills. Originally constructed to stock trout populations in the Black Hills, today the hatchery serves as a living fishery museum with a cultural heritage center, a replica “Fish Car” train, and of course, thousands of fish to watch and feed. Up close and personal animal encounters are possible with one of the snakes, a baby gator and some of the other photogenic critters. In the mid-1980s, local skiing enthusiasts developed the Eagle Cliff Trails in the Black Hills National Forest for cross-country skiing and the sport’s popularity in the area grew rapidly. Top The Black Hills Landmarks: See reviews and photos of sights to see in The Black Hills, South Dakota on Tripadvisor. (A small portion of the national forest spills over into Wyoming.) You can experience a bit of our history at the State Railroad Museum, the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum or check out more than 10,000 Teddy Bears at the Teddy Bear Museum. Arriving in the Badlands & Black Hills Region In this land where gemstones and natural wonders have been forming for eons, even the smallest roadside stand holds the promise of a big discovery. Summer thunderstorms, which can be life-threatening for hikers in exposed areas, are more frequent at elevation too. There’s a warm-up ascent, and then a longer descent, before the final 1,300-foot push to the summit. You may recognize this looming, ridged-protrusion from its appearance in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” And it is no wonder that Devil’s Tower was chosen for this movie because there is something rather other-worldly about this volcanic formation. It’s an ideal destination for a long-distance hike – just remember to lay the groundwork well ahead of time by contacting landowners whose properties you may traverse. Whether you're looking to visit Mount Rushmore or explore Custer State Park you can book your lodging and attraction passes with Black Hills Vacations for one convenient price.. and privacy policy. Sightseeing Tours in The Black Hills; Walking Tours in The Black Hills; Boat Rentals in The Black Hills; Kayaking & Canoeing in The Black Hills; Beer Tastings & Tours in The Black Hills; Wine Tours & Tastings in The Black Hills Waterproof Phone Case - code: AQUAVAULT40, SC is Open | Up to 40% off at Palace Resort, 80% Off | 10-Day Beijing & Shanghai Trip w/ Air, Sitewide Sale! They culminate in Black Elk Peak (7,242 feet [2,207 metres]), the highest point in South Dakota. The biggest regret of our visit to the Hills was our hurried stay here; due to time constraints, we had to breeze in and out of the city in an afternoon. If you’re looking for a unique place to stay, check out the top Airbnb rentals in the area. Architecturally, it’s an odd mix of Eastern Orthodox, Far Eastern, and Gothic styles – which is even weirder when you learn it’s an exact replica of a famous Norwegian chapel. Mount Rushmore National Memorial features the 60-foot faces of four American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, who were all carved into the granite face of the mountain. The Black Hills are perfect for an array of outdoor activities, including scenic drives, camping, hiking and fishing. © 2020 Money Crashers, LLC. The only other feasible option is to hire a tour company for part or all of your trip. In good weather, driving across the High Plains is a transcendent experience. It connects the Door and Window trailheads with the Fossil Exhibit Trailhead: a 10-mile out-and-back walk over moderately rugged terrain. Entry into the cave is restricted to guided tours, which run roughly from 9am to 5pm most days. After your drive tour, you can head to Babyland – this is likely to be the highlight of your time here, offering a chance to walk through the area, watching baby bears romp and play with each other as well as some of the offspring of the parks’ other animals. Highly rated activities for big groups in The Black Hills: The top things to do for large groups. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is located a few miles north of the northeast entrance to Badlands National Park’s north unit, within sight of Interstate 90. A few tips before visiting the Black Hills area – There is a TON to see & do in this area! Located just south of Rapid City, Bear Country USA is home to the largest collection of privately owned black bears in the world. Budget at least four hours for the out-and-back trip: The summit, not surprisingly, has some of the best views in the Black Hills. The airport’s small size and thin schedule challenge frugal flyers: The 90-minute journey from Minneapolis costs nearly $300 round-trip on average with Delta, while the even shorter hop from Denver commands a $400 price tag with United. Day 3 – Cave Tour. The Wall stretches for nearly 60 miles, mostly within the national park’s boundaries. Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links. The facility also includes hot tubs, a sauna and steam room, as well as a gift shop and concessions. There’s a surprising amount to do and see outside the commonly defined extent of the Badlands and Black Hills. If you’ve seen the HBO show of the same name, you know about what to expect. Overall, there’s just so much to do in South Dakota’s Black Hills & Badlands that your kids will NEVER say “I’m bored.” …And we all know how much you love hearing that phrase. Black Hills Attractions calendar of events. Explore things to do in The Black Hills. Travel Information for the Bad Lands and Black Hills South Dakota. Main Street Square is the outdoor heart of South Dakota’s second-largest city. Things to do in the Black Hills With Kids. Rapid City, which sits on the eastern slope of the Black Hills mountain range in western South Dakota, has been dubbed “The Gateway to the Black Hills.”From here, visitors can explore the Black Hills and Badlands, Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Bear Country USA, and the Black Hills Caverns, among other nearby attractions. Relations between indigenous peoples and the state and federal governments remain tense; a bitter controversy over the renaming of Harney Peak to honor Black Elk, an Oglala Sioux chieftain, roiled South Dakota’s state legislature in 2015 and 2016. Take a few minutes to contemplate the infinite in the quiet sanctuary, then stroll the grounds and head on your way. Located on the prairie north of Sturgis, Bear Butte State Park isn’t too far from the Black Hills proper, but it’s often overlooked by travelers rushing between Old West towns and gigantic rock carvings. While this isn’t a comprehensive packing list by any means, you’ll want to have these items on hand for your visit. There's always something to do in the Hills. To see impressive rock formations, take a scenic drive on the Needles Highway too. 13 Things To Do In South Dakota When You Thought You’ve Done Everything. Spring and fall are short and even less predictable. Dec 2, 2020 Get our latest advice & deals in your inbox! Culminating at 7,242 feet above sea level with a stone lookout tower to boot, it’s an incredible vantage point to see the sun rise. Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument – There are two big caves under the Black Hills that are managed by the National Parks Service, and I love cave tours! Rapid City is about six hours by car from Denver, to the south-southwest, and about eight hours by car from Minneapolis-St. Paul, to the west-northwest. A handful of affordable old-timey saloons anchor the nightlife scene, which is second only to Rapid City’s in this part of South Dakota. googletag.enableServices(); Beautiful Spearfish Canyonfeatures prime fall foliage viewing a… Many visitors arrive in the Badlands and Black Hills by road. List of 10 hottest things to do in Black Hills South Dakota for tourists. My wife and I spent a few days in the Badlands and Black Hills this past summer. Some say it’s not as impressive as expected in person, but I say you need to visit to make the call yourself. See more ideas about black hills, fun events, vacation planner. The third-longest cave in the world, with 173 miles of explored passageways, offers a variety of tours, allowing you to go below the surface, as well as featuring a 1,279-acre park with nature trails above ground. googletag.defineSlot('/1035677/MoneyCrashers_', [[300, 139], [300, 360], [630, 139], [630, 475], [630, 250], [1, 1], [300, 250], [300, 475], [630, 360]], 'div-gpt-ad-1590780665633-0').addService(googletag.pubads()); Scientists estimate that over 100 mammoths accumulated here in this small area, with the animals found right where they died. Old West towns like Deadwood and Hot Springs persist as reminders of that boom-and-bust time, but there’s little active resource extraction happening in the Hills these days. Like many towns in the Black Hills, Lead has a vibrant mining history. Biologically, they’re quite a departure from the surrounding grasslands, with densely forested slopes coated in conifers and aspens interspersed with lush alpine meadows and the occasional mountain lake. If possible, time your visit for September, when the annual Buffalo Roundup draws thousands of visitors (and more than 1,300 bison). Here’s a look at some of the Hills’ top attractions. In fact, it's home to the Black Hills Mining Museum, which is a must-visit if you're interesting in learning more about the history of this stunning place. All are connected by some the of the most scenic drives in America, including Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road, along with dozens of attractions like the 1880 Train, the Black Hills Institute, Alpine Slide, Rushmore Cave and Black Hills Balloons. It’s 50 miles south of Hot Springs by road, give or take. Rapid City has a population of about 67,000. Animals, Nature & Parks For the world at its most spectacular, Mother Nature does it best. Don’t leave the monument without checking out the Circle of Sacred Smoke sculpture, near the picnic area. Time for the good stuff — the best things to do in the Black Hills. Getting Around the Badlands & Black Hills We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors. If you are coming in from Rapid City (or like us, driving down from North Dakota), it is only a short detour to scoot across the border into Wyoming to visit Devil’s Tower. Wall Drug Nebraska National Forest is a multi-unit protected area whose widely spread outposts dot the far northern portion of the state. Lots of outdoor activities to enjoy, quite a few fun attractions and some big must-do items can all be found within a 30 mile radius. Think of it as the Badlands’ principal “mountain” range. Come discover the history and heritage of the Paha Sapa. The closest entrance to Badlands National Park, which houses the most dramatic formations, is just east of the small settlement of Scenic, about 50 miles southeast of Rapid City. Check out upcoming things to do in the Black Hills and beyond. If you have the time and budget, I highly recommend doing it at least once in your life. RAP has regular direct service to Denver, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Dallas, and Phoenix, which in turn have direct service to pretty much every other major North American city. Other than backcountry camping and horseback riding on select trails, most uses are off-limits. All things to do in The Black Hills; Popular The Black Hills Categories. Call at least a few days ahead to reserve your $6-per-adult tour of the Delta-01 launch facility nearby. }); See why 218,388 people subscribe to our newsletter. Between heating and cooling your home, gassing up your car and watering your lawn, energy costs are one of the most significant expenses that... 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