A good vacation strategy for touring the Black Hills is to divide the region into day-long circle tours like you see on the map below. We have designed eight day trip loops that will help you and your family experience the region's greatest sights by making the most of your sightseeing hours and efficient gas mileage.
Gold Rush history, legendary characters of the Old West, storied Deadwood – all set in beautiful canyon landscapes – with splendid Spearfish Canyon a highlight whatever the season. There’s gaming in Deadwood, gold in Lead, the motorcycle mecca of Sturgis, small-town perfection in Spearfish; plus a host of trails and out-of-the way picnic, fishing and camping spots throughout.
Gems of nature await you as you tour Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park, the Mammoth Site and more along country roads flanked with pine forests and high country meadows. Wildlife abounds, with Custer State Park’s awesome buffalo herd taking top honors. Take a break in Custer or Hot Springs, with fascinating museums, unique shops and fine dining.
Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park
Our nation’s Shrine of Democracy brings inspiration and pride to all who visit this massive mountain carving featuring Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Nature’s equally impressive handiwork in nearby Custer State Park includes the Needles, Sylvan Lake and Harney Peak. Another must-see stop – Crazy Horse National Memorial, where the world’s largest mountain sculpture continues to make progress.
From the lively urban culture of historic Rapid City’s Main Street Square downtown area, to the Hills City arts scene, to bustling Keystone at the foot of Mt. Rushmore, a wide range of activities and attractions make for family fun every day of your stay. The 1880 Train takes you on an excursion through the backcountry, or create your own excursion on the Mickelson Trail – a top-rated Hills-wide Rails to Trails system for bikers, hikers and horseback riders.
One of America’s most iconic Old West images slowly comes into view as you drive through the lush little river valleys of eastern Wyoming. Enjoy your foray into ranch country with an outing that ends at this awesome granite pillar. On your way, discover the real West in the towns of Belle Fourche in South Dakota, and Hulett, Sundance and Aladdin in Wyoming.
It’s a stunning and surreal landscape on all sides as you travel the Badlands Loop Road through these wind-carved sandstone spires. There’s lots of pull-offs, trails, wildlife viewing and more, with excitement around every curve. Be sure to visit Wall Drug Store on your way to or from this unworldly national park.