15 Unique Finds in the Black Hills & Badlands | Black Hills Travel Blog

15 Unique Finds in the Black Hills & Badlands

  • 15 Unique Finds in the Black Hills & Badlands
    15 Unique Finds in the Black Hills & Badlands
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
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The Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota is an extraordinary destination, featuring countless trails, breathtaking vistas, and miles of picturesque drives. While some of these activities and experiences can be found elsewhere, the Black Hills and Badlands offer a host of unique and exclusive discoveries that can't be found anywhere else.

Remarkably, many of the world's largest or only examples of various things can be found right here. Whether it's Black Hills Gold manufacturers, a buffalo roundup, enormous mountain carvings, or an incredibly deep gold mine, there is plenty to explore. Check out this list of "Only Here" attractions to uncover during your Black Hills and Badlands vacation.

1. World’s Only – White Prairie Dog Town

Get up close to these cute furry creatures at Prairie Homestead on the edge of Badlands National Park.

2. World’s Only – Decommissioned Missile Silo Site

The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is the first national park in the world dedicated to commemorating the events of the Cold War. Visit the Delta-09 Missile Silo off of I-90 on Exit 116, tour the Launch Control Facility Dalta-01, and learn all about the site's role in the war at the Visitor Center off I-90 at Exit 131. 

3. World’s Only – Black Hills Gold Manufacturers.

For the unique tri-colored gold jewelry to be called Black Hills Gold, it must be made in the Black Hills! Enjoy a free factory tour of the jewelry-making process at Mt. Rushmore Gold & Diamond Factory Outlet in Rapid City.

4. World’s Largest – Collection of Reptiles 

According to the Guinness World Records, Reptile Gardens holds the title for the most scaly creatures under one roof. If reptiles aren't your thing, they also have breathtaking botanical and flower gardens. You'll find them along Hwy 16 heading southwest out of Rapid City.

5. World’s Largest – Mountain Carvings 

Specifically Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial. These iconic tributes to the people that shaped this country stand only 17 miles apart in the center of the Black Hills.

6. World’s Largest – Buffalo Roundup

Each year on the last Friday of September in Custer State Park, you will see the dust rise, feel the ground tremble, and watch in amazement as 1,100 to 1,300 of these magnificent beasts rumble across the prairie during the Buffalo Roundup.

7. World’s Largest & Oldest – Indoor Spring-fed Water Park 

In the quaint town of Hot Springs is Evans Plunge Mineral Springs. Built in 1890 over a large, warm, freshwater spring, this is the Black Hills oldest “attraction.”

8. World’s Largest – Concentration of Mammoth Bones 

It is believed the warm waters of Hot Springs helped cause the sinkhole that trapped over 60 Columbian mammoths in the mud. Today it is an active paleontological dig site known as The Mammoth Site—and visitors are welcome!

9. World’s Largest – Motorcycle Rally        

Since 1938, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has been bringing motorcycle enthusiasts to cruise the Black Hills and Badlands every August.

10. World’s Largest & Deepest – Gold Mine 

At a depth of 8,000 feet, the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead was once the world's deepest gold mine. Today you can learn the history of that gold mine and the success story of how it was turned into an underground lab to study dark matter and neutrinos at Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center.

11. World’s Wildest – Old West Town 

Or so we think! The entire city of Deadwood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On your visit, you are likely to see a “shoot-out” on Main Street, where Wild Bill Hickock was seated when he was shot, Sherriff Seth Bullock’s and Calamity Jane’s graves, as well as gaming and world-class entertainment.

12. Nation’s Oldest – National Monument 

Devils Tower was declared the first United States National Monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. This astounding geologic feature protrudes out of the prairie surrounding the Wyoming Black Hills.

13. Nation’s Center – Geographic Center of the Nation 

When Alaska and Hawaii were officially added to the Union in 1959, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey designated a point 20 miles north of Belle Fourche, SD as the most central point between all 50 U.S. states. A monument near the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center commemorates this recognition.

14. World’s Largest – Petrified Wood Park 

Located on the northern prairie, the town of Lemmon, SD is home to the largest petrified wood park in the world. You’ll discover petrified wood formations and other geological specimens of interest. The park also hosts a free museum constructed out of petrified wood.

15. World’s Largest – Wooden Bigfoot 

Created from cottonwood, cedar and ponderosa pine, this 23-foot high wooden sculpture is the newest attraction in Keystone created by Jarret Dahl of Dahl's Chainsaw Art. Stop by and snap a photo with the sculpture, nicknamed Billie, on your way up to Mount Rushmore.

Bonus: The World's Only—Mythical Jackalope

This iconic and elusive critter is well known throughout western South Dakota. While there are many variants of this creature across the midwest, the well known, horned visage of the jackalope is most common throughout the Black Hills and Badlands. If you are unable to spot one loping across the grasslands, pick up your own Jackalope mount at Wall Drug Store.

Explore BlackHillsBadlands.com/Visit for more unique attractions, monuments, sights, trails and more. 

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