Four Things You Need To Do In South Dakota

Recently my family and I took our summer road trip, which included a stop in Rapid City, South Dakota. I haven’t been there since I was a small child so I forgot how beautiful it is! If you’re taking a road trip or planning a trip to South Dakota, here are four things you need to do!

First stop, head to the Black Hill Mountains. The views are incredible, the air is crisp, and there are so many things to do. There are over 400 hiking trails. Two of our favorites are Lover’s Leap and Cathedral Spires. For camping, I recommend you check out Sheridan Lake and the Iron Creek Horse Campsite.

You can pop into some mom-and-pop eateries and souvenir shops. We stopped in Custer and you really feel the small town historical vibes. Some others that were recommended to us were:

  • Deadwood
  • Dell Rapids
  • Hill City
  • Keystone
  • Hot Springs
  • Pierre
  • Spearfish

If you have kids with you, stop in the Rush Mountain Adventure Park for some family-friendly thrill rides including a mountain coaster, and a sky climbing course. You can also explore a cave.

The next stop is, of course, visiting Mount Rushmore. I went in the 80s when I was a small child and boy has it changed! The monument is pretty incredible by itself but now they have a museum, an eatery (with ice cream!), a gift shop, and an amphitheater. You can even walk up the mountain (weather permitting), on the Presidential Trail (0.6 miles long, 422 stairs) to get up close and personal with the mountain sculpture and perhaps glimpse some of the area’s wildlife.

You need about 1.5 to 2 hours there. Admission is free to get in however parking is $10.

Speaking of memorials, another memorial to visit not too far from Mount Rushmore is Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse Memorial is 70 years in the making and is the world’s largest mountain carving located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is considered The Eighth Wonder of the World in progress.

You’ll need about 1.5 to 2 hours here as well. Entry per car is $30 to get in. For $125 you can go to the top and explore what will one day be Crazy Horse’s outstretched arm.

Lastly, you have to check out Badlands National Park. You can drive the 1.5 scenic route around the entire park to see some buffalo, wildlife, and be surrounded by the geographic formations. You’ll also see a ghost town that once was thriving during the Gold Rush. If you don’t have time for that then make a stop at Pinnacle Overlook which provides sweeping views of the Badlands. The best time to go is at sunrise and sunset! Parking is available and is free. It is also a quick 15 minutes from the main interstate.

My family and I loved spending time in South Dakota and recommend making a stop if it’s in your future road trip plans.