Heading to and from Rapid City on Highway 16, also known as the road to Mount Rushmore, leads drivers past a great selection of things to do. You’ve got the world’s largest reptile zoo, a drive through wildlife park, a location that is known as the birthplace of the space age, and more! But there’s only one place you can tour the film set of Dances with Wolves, ride a roller coaster, even enjoy a hearty meal with live entertainment, and that's at Fort Hays.
Film Set of Dances With Wolves
Dances with Wolves, for those who don’t know it, is an American epic western film that was released in 1990 starring recognizable names like Kevin Costner and Graham Greene. Visitors to Fort Hays can tour the film set featuring the original buildings used in the movie inside the South Dakota Movie Museum which includes remnants of over 50 other movies that were filmed in South Dakota.
This self-guided tour includes touring the Fort Hays Old West Town Square where you’ll find artisans creating handmade tools, ropes, bricks, tin plates, knives, and you can even pan for Black Hills Gold at the Gem Shop. It’s a tour back in time and you really can’t beat the price, which is free! Be sure to explore it all, including the view you can find overlooking the rolling hills and all the photo-worthy moments in-between.
Chuckwagon Supper & Music Show
Continuing the old west theme, Fort Hays also offers an authentic Chuckwagon Supper. When the supper bell rings it’s time to experience what a hearty meal was like for a cowboy or cowgirl out on the range, all the way down to the authentic tin plate and cup. The menu includes a mouthwatering line-up of chuckwagon potatoes, beef or chicken, western baked beans and old-fashioned spice cake. While you finish up your meal entertainment takes stage with The Fort Hays Wranglers as they fill your evening with great music and lots of laughter.
Can’t make if for the Chuckwagon – try the Cowboy Pancake Breakfast! Or if you have time, try both! Seven days a week you can enjoy 99 cent all-you-can-eat cowboy pancakes. They also offer items like biscuits and gravy, sausage, cowboy coffee and more for those not interested in eating your weight in pancakes.
Buffalo Hunt Coaster
The latest addition to the Fort Hays fun takes form in the twists and turns of the Buffalo Hunt Coaster! This interactive coaster soars through a herd of realistic bison models as you compete against the other passenger in a game of who can hit the most targets. Not every bison in the herd has a target so you've got to keep an eye out for all forty targets along the way – and if you can spare a glimpse during the competition to appreciate the surrounding beauty, you should.
Sightseeing Bus Tours
Fort Hays is also home to Mount Rushmore Tour Company. Their sightseeing tour packages go to some of the most popular destinations in the Black Hills like Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial® and Custer State Park, allowing you to just sit back and enjoy the scenery. In fact, they are the only tour company with charter size buses that can fit through the tunnels of Needles Highway. Check out all the package offerings on their website to find one that fits best for your vacation.
There’s lots to love about a visit to Fort Hays. Whether you’re a fan of the Old West, thrilling rides, live entertainment, or even just a big fan of Kevin Costner himself. Make it one of the many pit-stops you enjoy along Highway 16. The Fort Hays season starts in mid-May and goes through the beginning of October. For more great things to experience on your way from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore check out the related content below!