On June 14, an invitation from South Dakota Tourism landed me in Rapid City along with instagrammers Kyle Kuiper, Brandon Eckroth, Chrysti Hydeck, and travel blogger all-stars (and fellow Canucks) Dave and Deb of ThePlanetd.com.
We spent four days crisscrossing the Black Hills and Badlands region, on the state’s south west corner. Harney Peak, located in Custer State Park, obliterated my poorly informed preconceptions about the state I used to associate with little more than Mt Rushmore and the Great Plains. It turns out the summit of Harney Peak is the tallest point between the Rockies and the Pyrenees. This was just one of an endless list of surprises, too, as the Black Hills and Badlands are home to incredible landscapes and activities.
Here’s the list I’d use to plan my next adventures in South Dakota!
23 Potential Adventures in South Dakota
1. Feel small beneath Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse Tours
2. Fly high: Black Hills Aerial Adventure Tours offers heli flights above Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse, or above Badlands National Park
3. Hike like a local: Sunday Gulch near Sylvan Lake, the Notch Trail in Badlands National Park, or the Roughlock Falls trail in Spearfish Canyon are all great options.
4. Clink glasses at Miner Brewery or Prairie Berry
5. Summit out at Harney Peak, the tallest point between the Rockies and the Pyrenees.
6. Photograph Sunrise at Doors and Windows in Badlands National Park
7. Drive the Rim Road in Badlands National Park
8. Enjoy $0.05 coffee and donuts at Wall Drug
9. Fall in love with the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary
10. See what’s left of the Columbian and Woolly Mammoth in Hot Springs
11. Find the Community Cave in Spearfish Canyon
12. Thread the needle: Rock climbing is popular throughout the Black Hills but the coolest route, at least visually, must be the Needles Eye in Custer State Park.
13. Learn Lakota Heritage
14. Kick it with the locals in Rapid City during the weekly Thursday-night Block Party.
15. Sleep at a Guest Ranch
16. Drive the Needles Highway
17. Rev your engines on an ATV Rides near Deadwood
18. Watch a Gunfight in Historic Deadwood
19. Take a Buffalo Safari in Custer State Park or spot Antelope, elk, and deer along practically any highway.
20. Motorcycle alongside 1.0 million+ visitors during the 75th Anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
21. Go underground at Jewel Cave and/or Wind Cave
22. Tick off the whole Bucket List: South Dakota Tourism created #TheGreat8 to show off the best of their state. Many of the destinations are included on the above list, but the definitive list is: the Missouri River, Jewel Cave, Wind Cave, Historic Deadwood, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Mt Rushmore, and Crazy Horse.