Top Picks For Outdoor Adventure At 9 Parks & Monuments
Surrounded by surreal parks, monuments, memorials and places to play – when it comes to big outdoor adventures, Rapid City has them. Pack your active wear and get ready to enjoy the best of our area with these top picks for adventure!
1. WALK THE PRESIDENTIAL TRAIL AT MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL
Get the closest glimpse possible by taking the Presidential Trail, which weaves you through the forest and up under the memorial. Hidden gems, like this glimpse from a cave, make the 422 steps to get there even more rewarding. The whole trail is a wonderfully walkable, photogenic, scenic route, and is often missed by many visitors to the memorial. Find more recommended experiences at Mount Rushmore here.
2. Hike Notch Trail at Badlands National Park
With a trail ladder waiting for you, this rugged route is a must-see for adventure seekers who want a cliff’s edge view. Take your time and be sure to stick around after the sun goes down because stargazing out here is something you won’t want to miss.
3. Hit the Water at the “Crown” Jewel in Custer State Park
On your mark, get set, HIT THE WATER! Sylvan Lake, the “crown jewel" inside one the world’s top wildlife destinations (Custer State Park), is where you’ll find kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats ready to rent. The wildlife you’ll see is not included in the rental. Get the go-getters guide for more ways to explore this jaw-dropping state park.
4. Participate In The Volksmarch At Crazy Horse Memorial®
This 10K (6.2-mile) round-trip hike is one you’ll never forget. Hilly terrain will take you up the world’s largest mountain carving-in-progress. The surreal, no filter needed, view atop Crazy Horse’s arm happens twice a year in the spring and the fall and, trust me, it’s one for the books and your social feed. Added bonus, the trail route changes each year to offer hikers new views during the trek up. Don't miss the opportunity to experience the full campus at Crazy Horse after you finish the hike!
5. Trek Through History On The Centennial Trail At Wind Cave National Park
There’s more to Wind Cave National Park beyond touring the cave. Although, the cave is pretty sweet. A six mile segment of the 111-mile Centennial Trail, the longest trail in the Black Hills, runs through Wind Cave National Park. Along this trail you'll have a chance to experience the parks wildlife, including elk and bison. This segment can be combined with Lookout Point and Highland Creek trails, making it one diverse adventure.
6. Take One Of Four Ranger-Guided Tours at Jewel Cave National Monument
Not afraid of a little, ok a lot, of dirt? Me either! The Wild Caving Tour at Jewel Cave National Monument is, in a word, wild. You’ll get to belly crawl through passageways, climb semi-vertical rocks (with the help of rope assistance), and even shimmy through crevices! Move over Indiana Jones. There’s a new adventurer in town.
7. Rock Climb at Devils Tower National Monument
Get cracking because this area has not just some, but hundreds of parallel cracks waiting for fellow climbers looking to tackle vertical faces. It’s no surprise that rock climbing at Devils Tower is one of the most appealing areas in North America. Just wait until you see the view atop this natural wonder.
8. Touch the “M” at Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park
It’s all downhill from here. In a, “I love single track mountain biking and if I could I’d quit my job and ride here full time” kind of way. Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park is a 20-mile-plus mountain biker’s playground with a variety of tracks for every level of rider. Locals refer to it as “M-Hill”, hence the large “M” at the top - feel free to bike or hike straight up to it. And it’s minutes from downtown, so it’s easy to work up an appetite on the hill and stop into a local pub for a pint and a burger. Win. Win.
9. Cruise THrough The Black Hills National Forest
The Black Hills National Forest is home to over 700 miles of trails for motorized exploration. Feel the wind in your hair as you zoom through a forest filled with natural beauty and that fresh mountain air. We’ve already pulled the best trails to explore near Rapid City along with everything to pack for this adventure and what you should know before heading out.
Want to discover more ways to have epic adventures in the Rapid City area? Get your hands on our free Visitors Guide (mail or download), or get great tips sent to you each month with our email newsletter.