For the Outdoor Enthusiast
Heading to Rapid City in search of epic outdoor adventures? You’re coming to the right place. Pick and choose from the activities below to piece together three full days of outdoor fun at famous parks and monuments and in the city.
Explore Downtown Rapid City
Enjoy the fresh air exploring Downtown Rapid City! Within a few city blocks you’ll find a variety of outdoor activities, locally owned stores, and places to buy either a sweet treat or that heavenly cup of morning coffee.
Tour The City of Presidents
Start with a historic outdoor tour. Spread throughout downtown is a series of 40 plus presidential statues. Meet and greet with these life-size bronze faces as you tour into the past of American Presidents.
Explore the Shops Downtown
Downtown has large selection of spectacular locally owned stores that carry a variety of locally made products.
Mitzi’s Bookstore features an old-world atmosphere and impressive collection of reading materials.
Roam'n Around shop outdoor or traveling gear and visit with their knowledgeable staff about your outdoor adventures.
Prairie Edge Trading Company and Galleries is two stories holding a mixture of local goods and Native American art, crafts, jewelry and more.
Relax At Main Street Square
Known as the heart of Rapid City, Main Street Square provides a place for anyone to gather and enjoy the sites and sound of the season. Visit Silver Linings Creamery or Alternative Fuel, located right at the square, before taking a seat at one of the many patio tables or right on the turf to enjoy the interactive fountains. Get a closer glance at the granite pieces that surround the square. All twenty-one pieces have been carved by hand to create the Passage of Wind and Water which depicts the natural history of the Black Hills and Badlands.
Play Within City Limits
Rapid City is surround by several parks and monuments along with the Black Hills National Forest, but you can discover thrilling outdoor adventures right in city limits as well.
Guided Fly Fishing Tour
Head into the crystal clear waters of Rapid Creek, the largest stream in the Black Hills, on a guided fly fishing tour with Dakota Anglers & Outfitter. They offer a full or half day with their experienced guides and make it a memorable and exciting adventure. They provide all the necessary fishing equipment, but South Dakota fishing licenses are required for each person.
Go For A Hike
Minutes from Downtown Rapid City are two different trail systems that make getting outside and enjoying nature convenient for everyone.
Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park (commonly referred to as M Hill) is a privately owned park that features over 20 miles of trails that is open to the public to hike, bike or run. Bouldering opportunities can be found here as well. Although you’re still in city limits, this urban wilderness feels like a natural escape you can get to with ease.
Skyline Wilderness Area located next to our quirky green dinosaur friends is a trail system that also provides wonderful views of the city. This 150-acre park boasts a great trail system for hiking and biking. Explore these twelve miles of trail with an untouched wilderness feel.
Head for the Badlands
Now that you’ve warmed up to the area by discovering the beauty in Rapid City, it’s time to explore some of the amazing places that can be found minutes away – like Badlands National Park.
Go For A Hike
All three designated trails are located within a few miles of the visitor center and the trail heads are located at the same pull-off.
Notch Trail is 1.5 miles and one of the most popular trails in the park due to the ladder like features hikers climb.
Door Trail (.75 miles) and Window Trail (.25 miles) are both short an easy walks from the parking area.
Drive Badlands Loop Road
Take a scenic drive through the stunning landscape of the Badlands. While desolate in appearance, this park is actually abundant in wildlife that includes bison and bighorn sheep. Stop frequently to take in the views at the many scenic overlooks the park offers. Some of our favorites are Pinnacles Overlook, Panorama Point, Big Badlands Overlook and Yellow Mounds Overlook. Stop at each and find your favorite viewpoint along the way.
Experience a Badlands Sunset
Golden hour hits differently in Badlands National Park. It’s a magical moment as the last bit of sunlight paints the sky vibrant shades of orange, pink and even purple in contrast to the layers of the eroding buttes that make up the landscape before you.
Take in Crazy Horse Memorial®
The carving of Crazy Horse Memorial® began in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. Today it is one of the largest mountain carvings in progress and the campus has expanded to include an on site restaurant, museums, cultural center, gift shop, performances and events like the biannual Volksmarch.
Tour the Campus
Start your campus tour with the Indian Museum of North American® which displays the art and artifacts of over 300 Native Nations. As you look around you’ll discover how diverse the history and culture was. In The Native American Educational and Cultural Center® visitors can take in a number of unique and hands-on educational opportunities that will enhance the Crazy Horse experience. The campus also offers the Sculptor Home & Studio and the Mountain Carving Gallery.
Go On a Tour
Take your visit beyond the viewing deck of Crazy Horse Memorial®. While this view is grand – Crazy Horse offers some great tours to get you closer or even face-to-face with the carving.
The Rustic Bus Ride tour will take visitors to the base of the mountain for a new and closer angle to take in the carving.
The Face-to-Face tour is available to those who make a Charitable Gift to the memorial. This tour take visitors up to the top if the carving to stand before the 87 ft. face of Crazy Horse and take in the surround Black Hills views from his outstretched arm.
Attend An Annual Event
Consider visiting during one of the memorial’s unique annual events. The Volksmarch which takes place once in the spring and again in the fall, are the only two times during the year when visitors can hike up and out onto the arm of Crazy Horse for a world-class view. Another popular event is the Native Americans’ Day celebration. The memorial puts on a program filled with song, dance, speakers and more making for a very special day.
Visit Custer State Park
Encompassing 71,000 acres, this state park is every outdoor-lovers dream. Whether you enjoy a scenic drive to a picturesque mountain lake, or a hike through granite spires to the tallest peak in South Dakota, you’ll fall in love with every inch of this park.
Experience The Crown Jewel
It won’t take you long to discover why Sylvan Lake is considered the crown jewel of Custer State Park. This calm, cool body of water is bordered by a stunning display of large rock formations. Take in the beauty from every angle by enjoying a stroll on the walking path that outlines the lake or rent a paddle board or kayak and coast out onto the waters for 360 views of this dreamy destination.
Hit A Trail
You can’t go wrong with any trek you take in Custer State Park.
Little Devils Tower takes hikers to higher elevation and find a view that will take your breath away. This trail is 3.6 miles out and back that leads to an overlook of the Needles, Black Elk Peak (the tallest peak in South Dakota) and the surrounding Black Elk Wilderness.
Sunday Gulch for a trail that offers a variety of terrains and fun features. The starting point to this 3.9 mile loop is behind Sylvan Lake. During the hike you’ll encounter everything from a boulder climb, creek crossings, and of course beautiful overlooks.
Take A Drive
Stunning formations and a variety of wildlife can be found throughout the park making scenic drives here that much more enchanting.
Needles Highway was once considered the impossible road to build due to the landscape. The twists and tight turns weave through granite spires and mountains tunnels to showcase a natural beauty that’s hard to top.
Wildlife Loop Road offers visitors close encounters with some of the parks wildlife. Experience a famous buffalo traffic jam as their herd of more than 1,400 rule the road, and enjoy a greeting from the well-known begging burros who take an open window as an invite to get a closer look at you and whatever goods you might have inside your vehicle.
Visit a Black Hills Beauty
Amid the splendid scenery of the Black Hills National Forest are 11 reservoirs, 26 picnic areas, 2 scenic byways, 1,300 miles of streams, 13,000 acres of wilderness, 353 miles of trails, and more.
Take in Pactola Lake
There’s a variety of ways to explore the largest reservoir in the Black Hills. Walk the path at Veterans Point which offers picnic spots, fishing spots, and a trail down to the water. Relaxing by the waters of this peaceful mountain lake is a great way to enjoy being outside.
Hike Around Sheridan Lake
Down the road further on Hwy 385 are the sparkling waters of Sheridan Lake. Here you’ll find the trailhead for a portion of the historic Flume Trail called Spring Creek Trail. Running for 2.4 miles this trail takes you from overlooking the edges of the lake into the hills where historic features of the 1880s flume still exist.
Monumental Moments at Mount Rushmore
The draw or introduction to our area for many visitors in the four granite faces recognized around the world. Visitors to the memorial can do more than stand before the impressive carving on the Grand View Terrace.
Walk the Presidential Trail
Although 422 stairs might seem like a daunting task, the view at the end is worth every step. The Presidential Trail leads visitors the ponderosa pines of the hills to the closest view of the memorial.
Explore the Museums
Learn fascinating facts about the creation and carving of Mount Rushmore when you tour the memorial’s Sculptor Studio and Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center. Ranger Talks also take place throughout the memorial and cover a variety of captivating topics about the carving and the area.
Attend the Evening Lighting Ceremony
A highlight for many who visit the memorial is the Evening Lighting Ceremony that takes place every night during the summer months. Each night visiting veterans are honored for their service and the carving is illuminated to light up the sky.
Pick the Perfect Meal
Deciding where to eat can be a challenge, and with all the outdoor activities planned a good meal to fuel the fun is required. Try out these delicious places during your time in the area!
Black Hills Bagels creates made from scratch cowboy size bagels along with eighteen flavors of house-made cream cheese and mouthwatering bagel breakfast sandwiches.
Harriet & Oak serves delicious coffee beverages to get your morning started paired with made-from-scratch breakfast items.
Sumo Japanese Kitchen is a Rapid City hidden gem that creates authentic Japanese dishes you’ll crave for the remainder of your trip.
Piesano’s Pacchia specializes in delicious pizzas, salads, subs and Italian favorites in a charming atmosphere.
Juniper creates artfully combined, locally-sourced ingredients for a fresh culinary experience.
Firehouse Smokejumper Station part of the Firehouse Brewing Company family their delicious menu items and crisp beverages make for a perfect pit-stop on your way to Mount Rushmore.