Bear Butte rising to meet the clouds
Sundown casts its golden light over the Badlands
The Needles of Custer State Park above the treetops
Mount Rushmore National Memorial’s subjects gaze across the land
The Needles in shadow and light
A powwow unfolds, honoring local heritage and culture
A pretty path by Roughlock Falls
The evening light of Deadwood's Main Street
Watching the sunset at Badlands National Park
A colorful mural in downtown Rapid City
- Major Airports:
- Rapid City (RAP)
- South Dakota
From Mount Rushmore to Badlands National Park and beyond
Major Monuments and Native History
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a large-scale sculpture of four of the USA’s most prominent presidents carved into a granite mountainside. Take in the monument by day, but also stick around to see this beautifully designed sculpture during an evening lighting ceremony. Attend a sculptor’s talk, or explore the monument’s bookstore and gift shop before dining on site. Just 42 kilometers to the north, visit Rapid City, a resort community set in the Black Hills. From here, you can experience Custer State Park, Badlands National Park, Devils Tower National Monument and more. The nearby Crazy Horse Memorial – the world’s largest mountain sculpture, in progress since 1948 – testifies to the region’s rich Lakota history and culture, also featured in the memorial’s visitors complex, where the sculptor’s home and studio are on display.
Exploring Expansive Parks
Run wild in Custer State Park, which encompasses spectacular views, wildlife watching, 1,300 head of wild bison and some of most scenic drives you’ll find anywhere. The park, one of the nation’s largest state parks, comprises nearly 29,000 hectares and has been home to diverse cultural heritages for thousands of years, providing scenic beauty and outdoor recreation for visitors since the early 1900s. Within the park are visitor centers, fishing lakes, resorts, campgrounds, lodges and interpretive programs. Nearby Badlands National Park allows visitors an otherworldly experience and is home to majestic landscapes and diverse wildlife. The Badlands consist of 98,000 hectares of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest protected mixed-grass prairie in the USA. Cedar Pass Lodge and Badlands Inn allow adventurers who stay overnight the chance to see the park’s unique moonscape environments.
Old West Character
In the northern Black Hills you’ll find the historic Old West town of Deadwood. In the 1870s, Deadwood Gulch was the site of the last big frontier gold rush in North America. Deadwood flourished on gold mining for more than a century, and today it is known for its rich history, legal gambling and attractions that are all related to gold and the gold rush heritage of this wonderfully restored community.
Gunfighter “Wild Bill” Hickok was killed in Deadwood, South Dakota, in 1876 and is buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery.
At 293 kilometers, Jewel Cave National Monument is the third longest cave in the world, with nearby Wind Cave just behind, at fifth.
The area’s mountains are so thick with evergreens that native Lakota called them paha sapa or “hills that are black.”