Taking vacation means you choose how to spend your time and from daybreak to nightfall Rapid City and the Black Hills offer extraordinary experiences. So, whether you stick to your morning routines or change up your sleep schedule, we recommend including these must-see attractions in your travel plans.


Iced coffee from Alternative Fuel with Main Street Square in the background
Main Street Square

Rise with the sun to sip local coffee and see a stunning color show in Main Street Square. You can enjoy the quiet solitude of the city’s center with your favorite morning beverage in the heart of Downtown Rapid City close to shopping, museums, and more. 

Early morning light on the faces of Mount Rushmore with the Grand View Terrace sign
Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Did you know Mount Rushmore hosts an average of three million visitors a year? Get to the monument before the crowds in the morning for the best experience (and better parking spots). You can start taking selfies with the presidents as early as 5:00am.

Sunrise signing on the Badlands with a hiker taking in the view
Badlands National Park @bsolberg38

It’s easier to wake up when you’re ready to explore new places and wide-open spaces. Take advantage of the comfortable temperatures in the early hours and hit the hiking trails at Badlands National Park. Explore the rugged beauty on the (cliff-)edge and climb a ladder on Notch Trail (1.5 miles) or take in the scenery with a slower pace along Window Trail (.25 miles).


Moonlit Movies event taking place at Main Street Square in Rapid City
Main Street Square

Go ahead and sleep in, so you can stretch out in Main Street Square for Moonlit Movies under the stars. Starting at sundown, these special outdoor films are free and open to the public. Bring your own blanket and don’t miss the Elks Theatre concession stand for a big ol’ bag o’ buttery popcorn.

Evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore with the stage and illuminated monument behind
Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Watch our iconic monuments light up after dark. You can witness this inspirational lighting ceremony at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial’s outdoor amphitheater after sunset. Don’t miss seeing the illuminated Avenue of Flags set against the starry night. After dark you can also catch the “Legends in Light” laser show at Crazy Horse Memorial®. This show turns the mountainside into a 500-foot screen and tells the story of our cultural diversity while celebrating our similarities and encouraging harmony.

Starry night over the eroded buttes of Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park @paddles_and_pedals

Skip the sunrise and stay up for another kind of nightlife in Badlands National Park. Plan your arrival at sunset, so you can witness the otherworldly terrain of this eroding landscape transform at twilight or visit when moonlight transforms the view. The lack of light pollution in the Badlands creates the perfect conditions to see the swirling stardust of the Milky Way in late summer nights. The Park provides a nightly astronomy program during summer months.

Don’t miss the Badlands Observatory in Quinn, SD! Spend your evening on the observing deck for a 2-hour Dark Sky Tour navigating distant galaxies, planetary nebulae, complex star systems and planets as available. The Moon and brighter objects are viewed during the Bright Moon Tour. Reservations are required as space is limited.


No matter how you decide to spend your days and nights in Rapid City and the Black Hills, we want you to make the most of your time. Discover new horizons at nearby parks and monuments and savor the flavors of iconic South Dakota dishes any time of day – or year!

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