Interesting Local Attractions and sights
Crazy Horse Memorial
Popular Black Hills tourist attraction Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument that is under construction on privately held land in Custer County. It represents Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior, riding a horse and pointing into the distance. The memorial was commissioned by Lakota elder Henry Standing Bear to be sculpted by Korczak Ziółkowski. It is operated by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, a private non-profit organization.
The memorial consists of the mountain carving monument, the Indian Museum of North America, and the Native American Cultural Center. The monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain on land considered sacred by some Oglala Lakota, between Custer and Hill City, roughly 17 miles from Mount Rushmore.
The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (in order from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
South Dakota State Railroad Museum
The South Dakota State Railroad Museum in Hill City brings to life the financial and political intrigue, the machinery, the people, the mythology, and the enthusiasm behind the railroad.
The building of the American railroads was a special combination of steel, timber, and sweat which linked the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific. As explorers, entrepreneurs, and immigrants from across the world sought freedom and opportunity, the railroads and the nation grew up together.
South Dakota’s unique landscape spawned one of the most unusual and complex railroad histories in the nation; a history that helped define South Dakotans as a people and as a state.
Big Thunder Gold Mine
Big Thunder Gold Mine in Keystone is an original mine from 1892 offering guided underground tours. Visitors are able to pan for gold in nearby Battle Creek – and each visitor receives a free gold ore sample. Big Thunder Gold Mine features two gift shops, a mining museum, an eatery, an antique shop and an ice cream store. The mine was honored with the 2006 George Mickelson Great Service Award from the State of South Dakota.
Wall Drug Store
Wall Drug consists of a shopping mall, drug store, gift shop, restaurants and various other stores. Unlike a traditional shopping mall, all the stores at Wall Drug operate under a single entity instead of being individually run stores. Families love this unique South Dakota tourist attraction.
Storybook Island is a free children’s theme park in Rapid City that opens from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The park is filled with life-size sets that portray characters from various children’s stories, fables and nursery rhymes. The Storybook Island Children’s Theater is an integral part of the park and is one of the largest children’s theaters in a five-state region.
This 75-year family attraction in Rapid City houses South Dakota’s only Tropical Dome. With wildlife shows featuring snakes and gators – and many exotic birds in a vibrant indoor jungle – Reptile Gardens is an exciting tropical adventure located within the Black Hills. This Black Hills attraction features an on-site restaurant and gift shop.
Bear Country USA
Bear Country USA located near Rapid City includes a three-mile drive through a 250-acre wildlife park. From the comfort of your vehicle, you can observe black bears, mountain lions, wolves and other wildlife. See baby bears frolic and play when you walk through Babyland.
This two-hour ride allows visitors to view the beautiful Black Hills by train. The ride takes a path between the historic towns of Hill City and Keystone. Advanced reservations for this beautiful train ride are recommended.
Palmer Gulch KOA Campground
This family destination is the closest resort to Mount Rushmore. The resort features a cozy lodge with suites, upscale log cabins, rustic mountain cabins and an award-winning KOA campground. With amenities including two pools, a splash pad, waterslide, jumping pillow, horseback riding, restaurant, rental cars, ATVs and Wi-Fi, this resort can accommodate almost anyone’s wants or needs.
Custer State Park
Custer State Park is a 71,000-acre family vacation destination featuring 1,300 free-roaming buffalo and the scenic Needles Highway. The park features four mountain resorts, camping, lakes, streams, naturalist programs and hike and bike trails.
Featuring 80 gaming halls with slot machines galore, poker and Blackjack tables, historic Deadwood is home to many legends. In 1874, Colonel George Armstrong Custer led an expedition into the Black Hills and discovered gold. Custer’s discovery sparked the Black Hills Gold Rush and gave rise to the lawless town of Deadwood, which quickly reached a population of around 5,000 by 1876. Deadwood is known for the murder of Wild Bill Hickok, and Mount Moriah Cemetery remains the final resting place of Hickok and Calamity Jane, as well as the town’s first sheriff Seth Bullock.
Jewel Cave National Monument
Jewel Cave National Monument contains Jewel Cave, currently the second longest cave in the world, with just over 157 miles of mapped passageways. It offers professionally-guided tours and is located approximately 13 miles west of Custer.
Badlands National Park
With sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States, Badlands National Park is a South Dakota treasure. The Badlands Wilderness protects 64,144 acres of the park as a designated wilderness area and is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America.
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
The first Sturgis Rally was held on August 14, 1938, by the “Jackpine Gypsies” motorcycle club. Now, the annual event, which brings motorcycle enthusiasts from across the world to small town South Dakota, has expanded to take place the first full week of August. Bikers enjoy riding on new paths and trails, driving through stunning canyon roads and enjoying hikes in the hills during their stay. Popular venues during the Rally include Load American Roadhouse, a musical venue and bar, and Buffalo Chip Campground, which hosts camping and nine days of prominent musical acts during the Rally.
The Mammoth Site
The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs is the world’s largest mammoth research facility. Visitors can tour an active paleontological dig site and view Ice Age fossils exhibited as they are found.
Open year round, the Mammoth Site offers the museum visitor a 30-minute guided tour plus a 10-minute video. Tour information features the Mammoth Site and Ice Age geology, paleontology, and paleoecology.