Your Next Adventure in "The Heart of the Hills," Hill City | Black Hills Travel Blog

Your Next Adventure in "The Heart of the Hills," Hill City

  • Your Next Adventure in "The Heart of the Hills," Hill City
Updated: 
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
By : 
Hill City

This historic town is seated in the heart of the Black Hills of western South Dakota. Our central location in this beautiful and majestic pine-covered range of rolling mountain terrain is what earned our community its nickname: "The Heart of the Hills." 

What makes Hill City unique?

Hill City is known as the “Heart of the Hills” thanks to our central location within the beautiful Black Hills, and because we’re known for our community’s welcoming hospitality! We are close to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park in the Southern Hills, along with Deadwood, Rapid City, Badlands National Park and all that our area has to offer. Whether it’s recreation or relaxation, we will help you find it!

What is the history of the town?

Hill City was established in 1876 with the discovery of gold in nearby Spring Creek. Once gold prospecting moved north towards Deadwood, Hill City lost much of its population until tin became profitable in the mid-1880s. The tin industry carried us for a while, followed by the arrival of passenger rail in the 1950s. Today, we are a tourism destination, home to a thriving timber industry and a hub of paleontological discovery. Some amazing Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons have been found near here, including Stan, one of the most complete T-rex skeletons ever found! The legacy of our transportation history through the still-operational 1880 Train and the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps through Sheridan Lake, the Pigtail Bridges on Iron Mountain Road and much more are daily reminders of those who came before us.

How does your town tie into my Black Hills vacation?

With our central location in the Hills, Hill City is the ideal destination to experience wide-open magical spaces all year round. From sunup to sundown with so much to see, do and experience in every direction, you’ll wish you had more time...so we encourage return visits to enjoy more! That includes gazing into the beautiful Black Hills from Black Elk Peak, viewing the colorful magic of the seasons changing, feeling the thunder of bison hooves or simply pleasing your palate with unique local flavors at our local wineries, microbreweries and restaurants. Color, beauty and variety can be found across the region.

What can I do in Hill City during my visit?

Hill City is now home to a thriving business and retail community, a progressive arts and culture scene and an ever-evolving schedule of year-round festivals and events. Visitors enjoy art galleries, museums, unique boutique shopping, the oldest operating tourist train in the country along with the welcoming hospitality of a small town. Memorable family vacations might also include rock hunting, gold panning, exploring dinosaur fossils or the thrill of an open-air ride on an ATV or a buffalo safari jeep tour. A plunge into one of our area lakes, gentle biking along the Mickleson Trail and a leisurely ride on the 1880 Train are also top-rated adventures.

Hill City enjoys a reputation for lively signature and monthly events, guaranteeing that you’ll find something new to do each time you visit. We’re home to The Black Hills Film Festival, Tour de Chocolate, the Wine-Brew-BBQ, Sculpture in the Hills, the Hill City Quilt Show & Sale, summer rodeos; outdoor music concerts, Girlfriends’ Weekend, The Best of Hill City and the year culminates in the community celebration of Hill City’s Olde Tyme Christmas.

How much time should I budget?

If you want to participate in outdoor activities such as camping or biking the Mickelson Trail, we recommend you stay as long as you can to fully immerse yourself in the Black Hills. However, if all you have is a weekend, you can see the highlights of our community and get a true introduction to the Black Hills. Need help with a one-day, three-day or week-long itinerary? The friendly staff at Hill City’s Visitor Information Center can help you plan or you can jump on our website for events and suggested must-dos while you are here.

What are the locals like?

Hill City works hard to be the Heart of the Hills both in location and in spirit. Our Visitor Information Center is uniquely located in what was previously a Black Hills Forest Service building in a beautiful setting. For your amazing getaway to Hill City and the Black Hills, friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you plan your route, provide insights on the area and offer a wealth of information. Hiking and biking trail maps, dining and lodging options, retail guides, event schedules, brochures, displays and more are available at this Center which is open year- round. Bonus for your visit: The CCC Museum is housed at the Visitor Information Center and you can picnic on the grounds while enjoying a spectacular view of a rock cliff and nearby stream; or catch a glimpse of the occasional bighorn sheep who roam the grounds.

Can my whole family enjoy the area attractions and sights?

Hill City and the Black Hills are for everyone! Hill City routinely welcomes families, couples, individuals, travelers on charter buses, visitors from all over the world…the young and the young at heart! The Black Hills are where memories are made—from a trip to Mount Rushmore to the bison in Custer State Park or Crazy Horse Memorial. Hill City is a destination of choice for family reunions, weddings, meetings and a wide array of lifetime moments that only happen here.

Does your community provide access and accommodations? 

Our businesses throughout the community make every effort to be as inclusive to our guests as possible. Hill City is a pet-friendly community and with a new sidewalk downtown with bump-outs, benches and enhanced features, individuals can experience and enjoy all that Hill City uniquely has to offer. We encourage you to check with any particular business you are interested in, but we know that they will make every accommodation possible to make you feel at home.

We take the safety and wellness of our visitors and locals seriously. Rest assured you will enjoy the safe and routinely cleaned surroundings provided by our lodging and dining establishments as well as our attractions. Our wide-open spaces and great safe places will give you peace of mind while you appreciate the beauty of the Black Hills. A stay in Hill City is guaranteed to be one that will create memories to last a lifetime. We are looking forward to meeting you—here in the "Heart of the Hills"!

Black Hills & Badlands is prioritizing safe travel.

Learn more at BlackHillsBadlands.com/COVID.