Black Hills Hard Hat Tour
The Black Hills and surrounding areas are a geology and paleontology hot spot. With large T. Rex’s and other fossils found just north of the Black Hills, a rich history of mining, and other geologic curiosities, prehistoric adventure abounds here.
Start the day off in Rapid City at South Dakota School of Mine’s and Technology’s Museum of Geology. The free museum is home to Eocene and Oligocene mammals of the White River Formation, Jurassic dinosaurs and mammals from Wyoming, fossilized plants, dinosaurs and more from the famous Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation. Rare minerals from around the world are also on display here.
After your stop at the Geology Museum, head to Dinosaur Park. Originally built in the 1930s, Dinosaur Park, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of Rapid City’s most popular parks. The massive concrete Apatosaurus sits high atop a ridge that splits Rapid City in half and is visible from nearly every corner of the city. From here you will also be able to see the granite spires that form the core of the Black Hills, the Spearfish Formation that encircles the hills-called the red race track in Native American folklore, all while sitting atop the Dakota Hogback formation.
After learning about the geology of the area and observing it from the top of Dinosaur Park, head to the Landstrom's-Mount Rushmore Black Hills Gold Factory for a free tour. You'll learn more about the gold rush history of the area and get an up-close look at how Black Hills Gold jewelry is created.
From Rapid City, head south to Jewel Cave National Monument, just west of Custer. Complete with a hard hat and headlamp, get adventurous with a spelunking tour of the third longest cave in the world. Experienced guides will take you into the cave to climb, belly-crawl and explore its many depths and passages laden with its famous spar crystals. *Reservations required for spelunking tour.
You are sure to dig the stop that caps off your day. The Mammoth Site is an active paleontological dig site with the most mammoth remains anywhere in the world.