The Black Hills, South Dakota
-No state income tax so come and have some fun…
South Dakota can’t seem to get a bad rap. you can’t get a rap if you suffer from non-recognization, if recognition we’re a liquid no one would care because it’s South Dakota. it’s a state where everybody thinks folks commune with cows and don’t know what an internet is. this is actually a good thing. here you will find one of the most beautiful. affordable, relaxing family vacation spots in America.
It’s also one of the most underrated states period, and you need only to visit the west side of the state’s Black Hills for proof.
The name “Black Hills” is a translation of the Lakota Pahá Sápa. The hills were so-called because of their dark appearance from a distance.
Starting with the stunning Badlands and extending westward, the Black Hills are home to some of the most majestic scenery you can imagine.
From the winding Spearfish Canyon to the mountain lakes that surround Mount Rushmore, rivers, mountains, caves, and more, making it ideal for hikers and climbers and everybody in between.
Those in-betweeners include the bikers who throng the otherwise placid Sturgis every year, and gamblers/HBO fans who flock to Deadwood, the living museum of family-friendly debauchery.
Small towns like Spearfish and Belle Fourche give you a chance for a little culture and relaxation.
It’s basically a gigantic, serene cluster of small towns amid enough crazy geographical features to populate an entire planet, all scattered within an hour or two of one another.
Not bad for a place most associated with having a gigantic wall of presidential heads looking over it.
Rapid City Regional Airport
Deadwood offers the chance to relive the days of the Wild West. One of the most famous Old West towns, thanks to the HBO series with the same name, this gold rush town was certainly the real deal.
Thousands arrived in the 1870s, seeking to strike it rich or to make money off those who did, including the legendary Wild Bill Hickok who was shot in the back by Jack McCall during a poker game in the summer of ’76.
While the return of legalized gambling in 1989 transformed the town into a popular tourist destination, it still offers a number of historic attractions.
Tour the lavish Adams House, a Queen Anne-style mansion, view interesting exhibits at Adams Museum, pan for gold at the Lost Boot Mine and even watch a good ‘ol fashioned shootout, with a cast of talented entertainers reenacting the historic events on Main Street throughout the summer each year.
ENJOY THE DRIVE WITH FLEXIBILITY RENT A CAMPER
JEWEL CAVE NATIONAL MONUMONT, CUSTER
The third-longest cave in the world, with 173 miles of explored passageways, offers a variety of tours, allowing you to go below the surface, as well as featuring a 1,279-acre park with nature trails above ground.
Hell Canyon Trail, a 5.3-mile trek, will bring you to limestone cliffs with amazing views of the canyon and surrounding area.
The underground environment showcases brilliant color and fragile rocks in an ecosystem that can’t be seen anywhere else. You’ll be mesmerized by its calcite crystals, stalagmites, stalactites, frostwork, boxwork, draperies, flowstone and hydromagnesite balloons.
SWIMMING IN THE BLACK HILLS SOUTH DAKOTA
Several areas of Spearfish Canyon’s base are potential fishing and swimming areas. This acclaimed canyon is home to Spearfish Creek, hugging alongside the canyon walls in the Black Hills National Forest, as well as a locally famous swimming hole, the Devil’s Bathtub.
The canyon is home to about 1,250 of South Dakota’s 1,585 plant species. Bobcats, porcupine, and mule deer have been spotted exploring the canyon sides during the summer seasons.
This is truly a spectacular place to be, and it gets better when you feel the crisp water for yourself. Visitors can both be found swimming in the creek waters during the peak summer season while they visit Mount Rushmore and other attractions.
There is no official sanction, no fee, and no readily-maintained facilities. Spearfish Canyon is outside the town of Spearfish and accessed through the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.
Devil’s Bathtub In Spearfish Canyon
The Devil’s Bathtub in Spearfish Canyon necessitates a short hike, but it is well worth the trip for the swimming, amazing canyon scenery, and nearby waterfall leading to the swimming hole.
To get to it, head south on the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway from Spearfish.
Find a road sign for Cleopatra Place a few miles after Bridal Veil Falls. Park in a small gravel area before the bridge and follow the creek and trail down to Devil’s Bathtub, about a one-mile round trip.
Sheridan Lake is far from a small swimming hole at 400 acres in size, however, it is certainly one of the best areas for swimming in the summer with its facilities.
You’ll find two separate swimming beaches, two campgrounds, a marina, hiking trails, fishing and picnicking areas, and more.
It’s located about 15 miles west of Rapid City.
Another main swimming opportunity to check out will be Deerfield Lake, as it holds plenty of treasured swimming nooks near your vacation lodge.
Deerfield Lake offers a quintessential swimming experience in the Black Hills. The lake is well-known for its calm demeanor and relaxed water activities.
The lake is a designated no-wake zone, so kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and canoes can be found during the summer season filled with visitors of all ages.
A large picnic area and a clear water access point make Deerfield Lake one of the finest places to hit the water. Across 435 acres, you are bound to find a quiet swimming hole between the craggy rocks.
The Deerfield Lake Loop Trail encircles the lake at a total of 11.8 miles and connects to the North Shore, Gold Run, Custer Trail, and Hill Top Trailhead. The trail predominantly ventures through meadows and pines, offering a nice balance of open landscape and thick foliage.
Custer State Park
Across 71,000 acres of pristine natural land, Custer State Park has far more than one swimming locale with five lakes in the park.
Amazing hiking trails and picnic areas populate this extensive nature park. Swimming is allowed at any of the lakes.
Horsethief Lake is just outside Mount Rushmore. This spot is popularly-known for its stunning cliff side drops as well as some particularly enthusiastic cliff jumpers.
Use extreme precaution as the area is free-roaming and wide open for you to explore.
This swimming hole near Mount Rushmore is popular among locals and features a waterfall and incredible rock walls.
Cliff jumping is a popular activity here, but it should only be performed by those with experience.
It’s one of the top “hidden” destinations for swimming, picnicking, sunbathing and wildlife viewing.
The easiest way to access it is by hiking along Battle Creek from a small parking lot area off South Rockerville Road.
EVEN’S PLUNGE HOT SPRINGS
Evans Plunge is an indoor and outdoor natural spring-fed mineral water pool that stays at a pleasant 87 degrees.
Located in the small town of Hot Springs at the southern end of the Black Hills, it’s been one of the region’s most popular attractions for over 127 years.
It features a 164-foot indoor water slide, an aqua jet speed slide, kiddie slide and traveling rings. The facility also includes hot tubs, a sauna and steam room, as well as a gift shop and concessions.
MAMMOTH SITE HOT SPRINGS
The Mammoth Site, also located in Hot Springs, in an active paleontological dig site that’s home to the world’s largest concentration of mammoth remains.
Most of the fossils found here are from the North American Columbia mammoth, though evidence of three wooly mammoths have also been discovered, making this the only site where both species have been found together. Scientists estimate that over 100 mammoths accumulated here in this small area, with the animals found right where they died.
A wealth of other Ice Age animal fossils have been found in this now-dry 26,000-year-old sinkhole, including the giant short-faced bear, camel, wolf, llama, coyote and prairie dog. Admission includes an introduction video, a 30-minute guided tour and entrance to the Exhibit Hall which features full-size replicas of mammoths and a giant short-faced bear.
Spearfish Canyon is one of the most beautiful locations in the Black Hills – so stunning, in fact, that cinematographers chose it as the setting of the final scenes in “Dances with Wolves.”
One of its highlights is Roughlock Falls, which offers a picturesque place to enjoy a picnic or to cast your line.
There are also a number of hiking trails throughout the canyon, and in the fall, it’s an ideal place for photographers to capture the vibrant gold and red aspen leaves.
Reptile Gardens, Rapid City
Reptile Gardens holds the Guinness World Record for the largest reptile collection. It also features a spectacular botanical garden with 50,000 flowers as well as tropical birds and gorgeous minerals.
Be sure to bring your camera, as you may be able to get close enough to one of the three giant tortoises (Orville, Tank and Quazi) to take a great selfie. Up close and personal animal encounters are possible with one of the snakes, a baby gator and some of the other photogenic critters.
At Bewitched Village, an Old West ghost town, you can go gemstone and Arrowhead sluicing and more, and, visitors can also take in a variety of shows.
The Gator Show features crocs, caimans, and alligators, while the Exotic Bird Shows offer the chance for intimate interaction with a variety of exotic birds, including a falcon, macaw, parrot and owl.
Take a trip to Devils Tower, just over the border in Wyoming, which will make you kind of sympathize with Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters in all its weird, free-standing glory.
The name Devil’s Tower originated in 1875 during an expedition led by Colonel Richard Irving Dodge, when his interpreter reportedly misinterpreted a native name to mean “Bad God’s Tower“.
And that’s because the only time you’ve ever seen the state was probably while either speeding through it on a road trip to somewhere else or from above at 30,000ft.
Much more than just Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, South Dakota is the most scenic, mesmerizing, and dare we say, cosmopolitan place you know nothing about.
It’s Not North Dakota
Not that South Dakota’s neighbor to the north isn’t beautiful in its own right, but people tend to lump the two together and automatically assume it’s where that show Blood and Oil is set.
The people there define “Midwest nice”
Which states are in the Midwest?
You probably think that South Dakota is full of people with Coen-brothers accents who pack guns and wear cowboy hats? Well, you’re kind of right.
But damned if they’re not among the friendliest folks in the country.
Lost? They’ll be able to tell before you even ask, and will help you get where you’re going. Car spun out in the middle of nowhere because you absolutely had to drive 50 miles to the nearest Five Guys during a snowstorm?
Somebody’s going to give you a hand, also, they’ll do it with a smile. It’s just that kinda place.
Buffalo actually do roam… and they occasionally stampede
As cool as it was seeing that one bison moping around a paddock at your local zoo, that’s obviously not their natural habitat.
Their natural habitat is blocking your car and causing a traffic jam in the middle of nowhere.
Also, wandering the prairies of the American West. Visit in September during the governor’s annual Buffalo Round-Up and you can see entire herds rumbling through Custer State Park at terrifying speeds.
The Black Hills boasts the best scenery you didn’t know existed, picture hundreds of quartz formations with pristine rivers.
Hidden tropical waterfalls.
The tallest mountains between the Rockies and the Pyrenees.
Moon-like rock formations.
If you wake up early enough in South Dakota, you can see all of that in one day and still visit Mount Rushmore, if you time it right.
The Weather is Crazy
On a summer day in Spearfish, you might literally have a snowball fight in the morning before… temps hit the mid-80s by afternoon.
You’ll see thunderstorms that look like laser-light shows, hail the size of a St. Bernard’s head, and blizzards that would keepSanta away.
For weather nerds, there’s no better place to see it all… again, like the scenery, often in the same day.
People in South Dakota know how to cook…
And every other local meat, offering diners a totally different culinary experience.
Wanna try said local game at two of the best restaurants in South Dakota? Head to Parker’s Bistroor M.B. Haskett in Sioux Falls, a city that is home to not only one of the 21 best bakeries in America but a downtown that’s exploded over the past few years with craft cocktail bars, a sculpture walk, and a waterfall park right in the middle of it all. Throw in TWO state-of-the-art, 8,000-13,000-seat arenas built for their hockey and basketball teams and this is by far best small city in America you haven’t been to. And only a short drive to the quartz-stone river gorge at Palisades State Park, which is amazing.
Italy’s got nothing on its sculptures
Did Michelangelo carve the faces of four people into the side of a friggin’ mountain?
Or sculpt anything using dynamite? No, and no. And nobody EVER has even attempted a sculpture on the scale of the Crazy Horse Memorial, inside the head of which you could fit all of MOUNT RUSHMORE.
If you’re alive in 2150 and happen to be driving by the finished version of this privately financed tribute to Native Americans, it will be the largest stone sculpture in the world.
It’s like a mind-blowing spectacular color changing living portrait.
Other-worldly peaks and valleys of the Grand Canyon, minus the busloads of tourists because of it’s distance to Vegas.
A sunrise here is a religious experience, if you’ve ever wanted to do one of those crazy vision quest things, this is the place to go.
One of the not-so-scenic drives, is the trip across I-90 between the Badlands and Sioux Falls. While the 80mph speed limit is nice, the roadside attractions are even better; they include the aforementioned Wall Drug.
A giant dinosaur statues.
A ghost town from the 1880s.
And the famous Corn Palace in Mitchell which, as the name might imply.
And an entire arena made of corn!
Sturgis makes Burning Man look like a Small Gathering
Yeah, that’s how big, decadent and depraved it is.
Last year, more than 750,00 people attended the annual motorcycle rally that is downright amazing and huge considering the state’s entire population is only about 850k.
For the other 50 weeks of the year,
Sturgis is a quaint little small town complete with its own hillside winery.
World Class Pizza
Somewhere near Hermosa in the middle of a desolate ranch that’s surrounded by absolutely nothing sits the landmark
At Lintz Bros. Pizza, they know what makes good pizza.
Do you love tradition and like to play it safe? Try our classic pepperoni, guaranteed to satisfy your craving.
Or do you play fast and wild, throwing caution to the wind? Our “Flaming German Samoan” is just the dish to curb your lust for everything new and exciting.
They are not your typical pizza restaurant. They love putting their own spin on tradition to make something really unique.
Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between, Lintz Bros. Pizza has something for everyone, and we’re the only pizza restaurant in the Black Hills to serve pizza with personality.
ENJOY THIS AMAZING DESTINATION – SIMPLY A ONE OF A KIND EXPERIENCE!