Good ‘ole South Dakota, where the bison rule the roads and corn is worshipped so much it has its own palace.
Having one of the smallest populations in the country, South Dakota is the perfect place to visit when hoping to escape the crowds. With a vast variety of landscapes, the area surrounding Rapid City is an outdoor lover’s dream! Check out the best 5 things to do while visiting:
1. Mount Rushmore:
A national monument that traffics over 3 million tourists a year, Mt. Rushmore is a symbolic memorial of four US presidents. Intricately carved into the mountainside of the Black Hills resides the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. You can view this monumental phenomenon from a terrace just a short walk from the parking lot, or get a closer view by completing the 0.6-mile Presidential Trail.
2. Custer State Park:
Famously known for being home to 1,400 bison, Custer State Park is 71,000 acres of prairie land and rugged mountains. Situated on the inside of the park, resides the famous Wildlife Loop that inhabits coyotes, mountain lions, prairie dogs, elk, deer( A LOT of deer), bison, mountain goats, and much more wildlife. With that being said, drive CAREFULLY!
3. Ride horses through Black Hills National Forest:
Sacred to the native Lakota (Sioux) inhabitants, Black Hills National Forest is home to two national monuments, Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Black Hills holds a history rich in gold mining and is believed to be more profitable than the well known California Gold Rush. What better way to explore the Blacks Hills than on horseback? One would assume the Black Hills would be, ya know, black, right? Wrong. Named for the black shadows illuminating on the stone and hills by the natives, the name can be quite deceiving. Regardless of color, the national forest welcomes one to explore the diverse woodlands that make it unique to the average eye.
We rode horses with Rockin R Rides!
4. Needles High Way:
Part of Highway 87, Needles Highway is like no drive you’ve dared to attempt before. With Rock tunnels 9 ft high and 8ft wide, it makes for quite the nail-biting experience. Needles highway is 14 miles of meandering “needle-like” rock formations. Attempt this scenic drive, if you dare….
5. Camp out at Badlands National Forest:
Nearly adjacent to the Black Hills, Badlands National Forest engulfs 244,00 acres of landscape in the west of South Dakota. This mind-boggling geological formation is believed to be millions of years old and quickly eroding away each year. The miles of the sedimentary rock formation that make up the Badlands are full of fossils and wildlife making for an exciting stop on your road trip. At the end of the day, pull off onto a side road and park atop the Cliffside overlooking the canyon for a beautiful sunset and night of stargazing. We used the Campendium App to help find the perfect spot to camp for the night. Check out Nomad View Dispersed Camping for one of kind camping experience. GPS units: 43.8898, -102.227.
There is plenty more to do in Rapid City, however, these were our favorite activities in the limited time we spent there. Feel free to reach out with any questions! 🙂
Check out my recent blog post sharing our personal experiences while visiting!