scenic road curving through the hills with sunset sky in the black hills of south dakota Casie Lethcoe

Must-Visit Destinations on Your Road Trip to Rapid City

Exciting roadside attractions greet you upon every turn on your route to Rapid City,  South Dakota. Ramp-up your Rapid City road trip adventure with these excitement-boosting pit stops! 

sunset behind the dignity statue found in chamberlain south dakota Travel South Dakota


Falls Park | Sioux Falls, SD 

4 Hours 50 Minutes to Rapid City

Stretch your legs and take in scenic views at Falls Park. This pet-friendly park offers the perfect photo-op against a serene backdrop of beautiful, rushing waterfalls and over 100 acres of inviting green grass.

Corn Palace | Mitchell, SD 

3 Hours 50 Minutes to Rapid City

Places like The World’s Only Corn Palace are so unique that they’re practically impossible to pass. After all, who can really say they’ve visited the world’s only anything? Explore rich, agricultural tradition with a free visit to this one-of-a-kind location.

Dignity Statue | Chamberlain, SD 

2 Hours 55 Minutes to Rapid City

Gazing out across the Missouri River, Dignity, a 50-foot-tall, stainless steel statue, represents South Dakota’s rich, Native American cultures and communities with open arms and silent, powerful grace. She is also featured on the South Dakota Sculpture Trail with other larger-than-life works located in Rapid City. 

Badlands National Park

60 Minutes to Rapid City

Jagged peaks cut into the crisp, blue sky in the stunning landscape of Badlands National Park. Find yourself surrounded by beautiful, unforgiving terrain with rules of its own. Whether you choose to cruise Badlands Loop Road or explore by foot on one of the trails, these 244,000 acres are an unrivaled natural landscape and a must for any Black Hills vacation. The beauty of the Badlands can also be found in Rapid City at the Main Street Square Sculpture Project called the Passage of Wind and Water, and through a colorful recreation of the iconic ridgeline in an impressive mural seen from Main Street Square. 

Wall Drug | Wall, SD

50 Minutes to Rapid City

What started with “Free Ice Water!” just became your new go-to. As you bite into that ridiculously good, cake doughnut, it hits you— It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from or how long you’ve been on the road; if you wind up at Wall Drug along the way, you’re headed to the right place…Even if you don’t really get the whole, you know, giant Jackalope thing. Known as the World’s #1 Roadside Stop, Wall Drug Store’s heartwarming beginnings and friendly personality have become a staple source of comfort and welcome getaway from the behind-the-wheel grind. Enjoy signature Free Ice Water, warm up with a 5¢ coffee and savor classic frontier flavor with cake doughnuts in traditional, maple, chocolate or vanilla. As for giant Jackalopes, while you won’t find any in Rapid City, you’ll notice a shared passion for flavorful experiences and giant creatures. Check out Rapid City’s Dinosaur Park and discover seven giant dinosaurs overlooking the Black Hills.  

side profile of mount rushmore as you drive past in the black hills of south dakota @11x16photoworks


The Mammoth Site | Hot Springs, SD 

1 Hour 5 Minutes to Rapid City

If someone told you that stopping to stretch would lead to a prehistoric discovery, you probably wouldn’t believe them— or picture anything like this. When you dig into The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs you’ll unearth a colossal adventure. This Ice Age Treasure is an active paleontological site that will take you 26,000 years into the past—when mammoths roamed the High Plains of North America. Today, this site holds the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world. If The Mammoth Site sparks your paleontological curiosity, you can add to the fossil-finding fun at The Journey Museum and Learning Center in Rapid City. Head to the museum’s Paleontology Field Tent and enjoy a hands-on experience as you dig for dinosaur fossils!

Wind Cave National Park 

60 Minutes to Rapid City

A vast prairie transforms into a complex, rocky corridor descending deep beneath the earth and reaching far into the past. If your drive was beginning to seem dull, the light at the end of the tunnel might just be the tunnel itself. Wind Cave National Park is one of the longest, most complex caves in the world— and one of the oldest parks in the country. With 28,000 acres of golden prairie above, and intricate, underground passageways waiting below, Wind Cave National Park showcases all-natural beauty on and beneath the surface. And while you’re checking off one-of-a-kind, record-setting sites, visit the world’s largest collection of reptiles at Rapid City’s Reptile Gardens and the largest collection of privately owned Black Bears at Bear Country USA.

Custer State Park

30 Minutes to Rapid City

From driving alongside a herd of more than 1,400 bison to enjoying up-close encounters with other local wildlife, Custer State Park offers the perfect place to explore incredible natural beauty. With an expansive trail network, scenic drives and more spanning across 71,000 acres of diverse, awe-inspiring landscape, Custer State Park is a must-see destination on any Rapid City vacation and the highlight of any great-outdoors adventure. Named one of the World's Top Ten Wildlife Destinations, Custer State Park promises rare, exciting encounters with a variety of Black Hill’s wildlife— most notably, the bison. To learn more about South Dakota’s bison population when you arrive in Rapid City, explore their historic impact on Native American culture and art at Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

35 Minutes to Rapid City

This is the final leg of your journey to Rapid City, so if you’re going to make one last stop— make it big, make it iconic. Mount Rushmore is perhaps the most famous of South Dakota’s attractions and it lives up to its reputation by delivering an experience that is nothing short of monumental. With a Presidential trail, museums and dining options, Mount Rushmore is one adventure you don’t want to rush. So, whether you’re taking a break from your drive or making a point of paying a visit, these four presidential faces are always worth the pit–stop. And when it comes to the in-person, presidential experiences in Rapid City, you can find life-size versions of the Fab Four and more throughout Downtown Rapid City’s City of Presidents.

low view of the street and the historical buildings on main street deadwood. Bryce J Johnson


Devils Tower National Monument

1 Hour and 36 Minutes to Rapid City

A trip to the Black Hills region isn't complete without a detour to neighboring Wyoming's monumental claim to fame - Devils Tower National Monument. Rising over 1,267 feet from its base, the tower has become a geological phenomenon in the heart of America, a sight that even compelled President Theodore Roosevelt to classify it as the first national monument back in 1906. The spectacular formation draws rock climbers from around the globe to its vast sea of parallel cracks. But don't worry if you'd rather keep your feet on the ground; there are approximately eight miles of hiking trails weaving around the tower's base and the surrounding prairie meadows. Keep an eye out for bison, deer, porcupines, and prairie dogs that call this place home.

DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery | Spearfish, SD

48 Minutes to Rapid City

Rooted in the heart of Spearfish, this pit-stop is a splash of educational enrichment that showcases a commitment to vital resource management. As one of the oldest operating hatcheries in the nation, the hatchery invests its passion into the cultivation, rearing, and the stocking of trout into regional federal waters. This isn’t just any car break, it’s an exciting deep dive into the life cycle of our finned friends.


Termesphere Gallery | Spearfish, SD

47 Minutes to Rapid City

Explore the mind-bending creations at Termesphere Gallery. This unique gem in Spearfish showcases the spherical art of Dick Termes, whose paintings on globes capture viewers in an enthralling 360-degree perspective. 


Main Street | Deadwood, SD

45 Minutes to Rapid City

Place yourself in the Wild West charm of Main Street in Deadwood, SD. Here, history is alive and well, as every building, corner, and cobblestone tells tales of legendary figures like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. And don’t forget to try your luck in one of the tucked-away casinos!

Bear Butte State Park

42 Minutes to Rapid City

Mato Paha or "Bear Mountain" is the Lakota name given to this site. Known for its Native American historical significance, this geological laccolith sees hikers across its trails and spiritual seekers leaving colorful prayer cloths in the trees. Standing apart from the rest of the Black Hills, the isolated beauty of this location makes it even more mesmerizing. Enjoy the surrounding nature, where wildlife and wildflowers thrive in abundance