Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding Excursions in Rapid City

Much like the pioneers and cowboys did hundreds of years ago, horseback riding is still a prominent activity in Rapid City. About a dozen trail ride outfits and guest ranches offer one-hour, two-hour and half-day rides ranging in price from $20-$40 an hour. For longer rides and more freedom try local dude ranches. Horse camps are located throughout the area for people who want to experience a “rugged western” camping vacation.

The surrounding Black Hills contains many trails for your equine riding pleasure. Nearly all of the Forest Service roads and trails are open to horses. Most trails do not require a permit; however, some require a user fee. 


There are two horse camps located in the Black Hills of South Dakota and one located in Custer State Park. Reservations for the Iron Creek or Willow Creek Horse Camps can be made by calling 1-877-444-6777. Reservations for the French Creek Horse Camp in Custer State Park can be made by calling 1-800-710-2267.


  • Many outfitters have a minimum age requirement for trail rides. Check with individual providers for rates and restrictions.

  • To help reduce trail damage, don’t cut switchbacks and ride single file.

  • Water horses downstream from campsites and in areas where the stream banks and water access are stable.

  • Pack out what you pack in and avoid sensitive areas where there may be historical, archeological and paleontological artifacts.

  • When riding within the national parks, contact the visitor center beforehand to ensure complete compliance with any regulations.

  • Black Hills National Forest requires certified weed-free hay.

  • Horses kept outside of a corral must be tied or hobbled and kept a minimum 100 feet from water. Picketing and portable corrals are not allowed in some areas. Electric fence is permitted in a designated area.

  • Horses cannot be left unattended overnight.

  • Horses must have a negative coggins test (swamp fever) within the last 12 months. ND, MT, NE has reciprocity.


Bear Butte State Park       
  • Two miles of natural trail leads around Bear Butte Lake. Horseback riding allowed west of Highway 79 only.

  • Connects to the Centennial Trail, which leads riders through the Black Hills.

  • Horse camp with primitive sites, water and corral. Reservations available.

Location: 6 miles North East of Sturgis off SD 79

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  • The Black Elk Wilderness and Norbeck Wildlife Preserve Trail System has eighteen trails ranging in length from 0.6 mile to 8.9 miles.

  • Individual Trail Information:

    • Lost Cabin Trail (Trail #2), 5.0 miles.

    • Norbeck Trail (Trail #3), 6.3 miles.

    • Trail #4, 2.3 miles.

    • Willow Creek-Rushmore Trail (Trail #5), 1.9 miles.

    • Sunday Gulch Trail (Trail #6), 3.2 miles

    • Grizzly Bear Creek Trail (Trail #7), 6.3 miles.

    • Willow Creek Loop (Trail #8), 2.8 miles.

    • Harney Peak (North) Trail (Trail #9), 4.7 miles.

    • Harney Peak (South) Trail (Trail #9), 3.8 miles.

    • Horsethief Lake Trail (Trail #14), 2.7 miles.

    • Iron Creek Trail (Trail #15), 2.4 miles, Difficulty Rating: Easy. Mountain biking allowed.

    • Iron Mountain Trail (Trail #16), 1.4 miles.

    • A portion of the Centennial Trail (Trail #89), 8.9 miles.

    • Centennial Bypass Trail (Trail #89B), 1.7 miles.

    • Blackberry Trail, 0.8 mile.

    • Sylvan Lakeshore Trail, 1.0 mile, Difficulty Rating: Easy.

    • Cathedral Spires Trail, 0.9 mile.

    • Little Devils Tower Trail, 0.6 mile.


Black Elk Wilderness

Location: The Black Elk Wilderness lies in the center of the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, and in the heart of the Black Hills.

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Buffalo Round Up at Custer State Park       
  • 71,000 acres of pine-covered mountains and rolling prairie foothills. Most of the park is open to horse back riding. Check in advance for any closures.

  • Marked trails begin and end at French Creek Horse Camp. Riders may also choose to blaze their own trails.

  • French Creek Horse Camp has campsites with electricity, camping cabins, comfort station, water and corrals. Vault toilets are available for year-round use. Reservations required.

Location: 4 miles East of Custer off US 16A

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  • 109 miles of crushed limestone and gravel; runs through the heart of the Black Hills.

  • Multi-use trail, used primarily by hikers and bikers. Yield system in place.

  • Please note: Horseback riding on a wet trail, especially in the spring and fall, can severely damage the trail. Please call the trail office for conditions before planning to ride the Mickelson Trail.

  • Trail Pass required: All trail users age 12 and older are required to have a trail pass.


Mickelson Trail Horseback Riding

Location: In the Black Hills, runs Edgemont to Deadwood

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