When spring comes to South Dakota, Rapid City is the place to be. Quicker on its feet than any other season, spring arrives not only with a burst of nature’s beauty, but a calendar of events and activities you won’t want to miss out on. Here are a dozen-plus ways to get in on the fun.
INSPIRING ARTS & CULTURE
Spring brings new inspiration to Rapid City’s thriving arts and culture scene – you’ll see the creative spirit in full force at area galleries, along Art Alley, Downtown and at Main Street Square.
- Find Your Favorite in the City of Presidents: Springtime on the streets of Downtown Rapid City is worthy of presidential approval, with all the former commanders-in-chief having executive authority over their own corner. Life-size bronze sculptures make them each approachable and their stories relatable, with enlightening details of their lives depicted. Stay tuned this spring for an update on the addition of Barak Obama to this Downtown attraction.
- Gaze upon The Sculpture Project: The largest privately funded, public art commission in the United States is complete in the heart of Rapid City. Master sculptor Masayuki Nagase transformed granite pieces into an exquisite work entitled The Passage of Wind and Water complimenting the best features of Main Street Square. Make sure you stop, look and feel the hand-carved granite, another tribute to the big things that happen here.
THRILLING OUTDOOR RECREATION
Spring is one of the most beautiful times of year to experience the great outdoors. These activities are sure to keep you on your toes, showcasing the features Rapid City has to offer after a long winter snow.
- Take a Hike: Across wide-open spaces, through deep pine forests, over rocky outcroppings and into cool caverns – the hiking terrain all around Rapid City is irresistible in spring. From easy park trails to challenging climbs, the sights are always spectacular. Check out these top 5 trails within minutes of Rapid City.
- Reel in some memories: The region’s mountain lakes and freshwater streams are teeming with life in the springtime, making it high time for you to gear up and fish for brook, brown and rainbow trout. Head out into the prairie for reservoir and ranch stock dam fishing to catch largemouth bass, northern pike and other great panfish. With a fishing license and a little local guidance, the fish aren’t the only ones who’ll be hooked.
- Cruise the Black Hills: The pioneers must have felt the same excitement around every bend – in the Black Hills you’ll experience more per mile than almost any place in the nation. This landscape of thrilling extremes is perfect for spring cruising with plenty of routes leading you through a promised land dotted with incredible views.
Plan your trip around these outdoor recreation events to make the most of the season:
- National Park Week – Can you believe it's all yours? Rapid City is blessed to have multiple national parks and monuments that are open all year round. Spring brings a real bonus: The National Park Service's Fee Free Day to celebrate National Park Week is April 20, 2019. Enjoy access to America's Best Idea without spending a penny! There’s no arguing with free admission to Badlands National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument to celebrate the opening weekend of National Park Week.
- Custer State Park's Open House Weekend – Spring conspires with nature all around us this time of year, but Custer State Park is especially wild and wonderful. Whether you drive the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road or hop on a Buffalo Safari Jeep Ride, you’re in for encounters with buffalo, bighorn sheep, antelope, deer, elk, coyote, prairie dogs and burros. The park opens its gates for free during South Dakota State Parks’ annual Open House Weekend in May to give nature lovers the chance to roam with the buffalo. Visit the park for no charge, fish free without a license, drive the open range like part of the herd. All you have to do is give the wildlife the right of way.
Spring is also a prime time to visit seasonal attractions on opening day, offering exciting opportunities fit for any age.
- Hop aboard the 1880 Train: Travel by vintage rail and steam power your way to a memorable trip through the Black Hills on the 1880 Train. With departures beginning for the season May 2018, you’re up for a good old time, with Wild West shootouts, magic shows and special events ahead. Give Mom a scenic adventure this year – the Mother’s Day Express runs on May 13th complete with treats, entertainment and a shopping trip.
- See a newborn cub at Bear Country USA: Spring brings new life to the Black Hills, and nowhere is it more adorable than at Bear Country USA. This wildlife attraction opens its doors to a new season in late-April and the drive-through wildlife park invites you to its babyland area to where it's newest residents just moved in. It's hard to imagine anything cuter than these baby bear cubs, no doubt about it.
- Catch a Show at Reptile Gardens: If it’s spring, the reptiles are ready to greet you. A new season begins in March for Rapid City’s most exotic refuge for flora and fauna alike, Reptile Gardens. Whether you’re a fan of the world’s deadliest snakes or lush tropical orchids are more to your taste, you won’t be disappointed by the gardens, exhibits and shows featuring all kinds of fascinating creatures. Acclaimed by Guinness as the World’s Largest Reptile Zoo, Reptile Gardens is home to more species and subspecies of reptiles than any other zoo or park on the planet.
- Walk with the Dinosaurs: You can enjoy 100-mile views from Skyline Drive and make friends with life-size prehistoric creatures any time of year at Dinosaur Park, but the best season for learning about the history of the Black Hills’ original tourist attraction is upon us, as the Visitor Center opens May 1, 2018. Find out which of the resident dinosaurs hails from another continent, which is actually an un-dinosaur, and whether the real creatures would have outweighed their concrete counterparts.
- Explore Rush Mountain Adventure Park, Home of Rushmore Cave: Celebrate spring with cool adventures at Rush Mountain Adventure Park. Whether you’re descending into stalactite-filled caverns on the Scenic Cave Tour or flying high on the Soaring Eagle Zipline Ride, this is a great place to get your recommended daily allowance of mineral fun. With 7-D Gunslinger Interactive Ride to test your skills, gemstone mining, a gift shop to guarantee you leave with treasures and the new Rush Mountain Coaster, it’s a good time on every level.