It's not easy to narrow down Rapid City area events into a short list. There are so many unique gatherings worth attending. However, if you're looking to attend events that are special to our area, these are the ones I would consider (in no particular order). Each one would add some pretty unforgettable memories to an already overflowing collection of good times you’ll have while visiting.
The Stratobowl Historic Hot Air Balloon Launch
Located fourteen minutes outside of Rapid City on Highway 16 sits the historic Stratobowl. This spot was the location of the Army Air Corps and National Geographic Society’s 1934 and 1935 manned balloon flights that launched into the stratosphere to a record 72,395 feet. Now, every year in September ten to twelve experienced balloonists gather to celebrate the anniversary of that historic flight at an event called the Stratobowl Historic Hot Air Balloon Launch. Spectators watch as balloons float out of the valley of the Stratobowl and over the tree tops of the Black Hills, it’s a beautiful thing to witness. An added fun fact, since the flights take place over a mountainous terrain it is considered “extreme ballooning”. My favorite thing about this event is that unlike most balloon launches, spectators are above where the balloons take off from. You'll get to watch as they slowly rise to eye level and then up over your head and away. This event goes for an entire weekend with balloon launches taking place Friday morning, Saturday morning and again on Sunday.
The Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup
Every September, Custer State Park (only a 45 minute drive from Rapid City) hosts an event called the Buffalo Roundup. What’s so exciting about herding bison you might ask. Well, it’s not a small herd, it’s about 1,400 bison. During the roundup, they herded by cowboys and cowgirls on horse back, just like a scene from a wild west movie. Now for my favorite part. It’s not only awesome to watch this many bison running together – but to feel it. North American Bison are the largest mammals in North America, and they can really make a rumble. It’s incredible. Depending on where you sit (hint: come early) you can actually feel the ground shaking. This event attracts people from all over every year and this year will be no different, so make sure you're there too! Check out our full list of insider tips for this event.
The Black Hills Powwow
Taking place every year in October, this three-day event is one of the best ways to witness the beauty of Native American culture. There is dancing, artwork, drumming and so much more all happening under one roof. You’ll witness all the Lakota dance styles and stunning regalia while being completely captivated in the pride and community that exists at this event. It’s pretty unforgettable. Each year the Black Hills Powwow grows attracting more skilled dancers and participants and a larger audience, it is currently the third largest powwow in the United States.
The Crazy Horse Volksmarch
Unlike the other events mentioned, the Crazy Horse Volksmarch happens twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. This event attracts people from all over the world, and for good reasons. Crazy Horse Memorial is the largest mountain carving in progress and during the Volksmarch the public can hike up and out onto his arm. You can stand face to face with Crazy Horse, marvel at the details of the carving, and then take in the stunning views of the surrounding Black Hills.
The Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival
The Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival is the biggest festival that takes place in Downtown Rapid City. The event flows from Main Street Square over to Memorial Park, and like the name suggests it’s everything pumpkin. There is a giant pumpkin weigh-off, pumpkin catapults, pumpkin carving, free pumpkin crafts for kids, goods for purchase and a whole lot more. This event is a great way to embrace the changing of the seasons and will leave you with some excellent pumpkin filled memories.
Our area hosts many amazing and unique events that will make your trip to Rapid City even more memorable. These are just a few of the wonderful events that happen in the area, to see more you can head to our events calendar!