Entertain your group with scenic views at every turn and enjoy a tour that’s filled with fun experiences and memorable moments
Arrive in Wall, South Dakota and check in at your group-friendly hotel. Tonight, enjoy a casual dinner. There will be an early start tomorrow morning. OPTION: Enjoy Night Sky viewings at the Cedar Pass Amphitheater, which is perfect for seeing the dark skies of Badlands National Park. Park rangers and volunteers are available for discussion and help looking through telescopes.
After breakfast and checkout, the day begins with a stop at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Visitor Center. In addition to the park film, “Beneath the Plains,” the exhibit presents life and work in the missile fields, the nuclear arms race and the Cold War.
Next stop is a visit to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center at Badlands National Park. Explore the museum exhibits, join a ranger at the Fossil Preparation Lab, visit the bookstore and watch the park film, “The Land of Stone and Light.” Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) is an incredible scenic drive passing through amazing buttes, cliffs and multi-colored spheres of the park. There are beautiful landscapes, informational exhibits and glimpses of wildlife.
Return to Wall and a late lunch and a true experience at historic Wall Drug. The Western Art Gallery Restaurant has a complete menu, but is best known for its donuts, rolls, and hot beef sandwiches and buffalo burgers. Coffee is still five cents and the ice water is free. Allow plenty of time for shopping the wide variety of souvenirs, art, and clothing and high-end crafted specialty items in nearly 50,000 square feet of space.
Depart for the Southern Hills and Hill City/Keystone and a visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Begin at the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center for exhibits and a 14-minute film detailing the carving of Mount Rushmore. A ranger is available in the Sculptor’s Studio for a 15-minute talk about Gutzon Borglum and the lives of the workers. The Presidential Trail gets you up close to the Presidents. It’s .06 miles and 422 steps, if weather permits. A must stop is the Ice Cream Shop at Carver’s Café and some Thomas Jefferson ice cream.
Check into your hotel and relax before dinner. There are some great restaurants in the area, many with outdoor seating and local cuisine. OPTION: This evening, witness the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Evening Lighting Ceremony. The event takes place from late May to September 30 at 9 p.m. through mid-August and 8 p.m. until September 30.
Breakfast and checkout before boarding the mid-morning 1880 Train departure. Enjoy a relaxing steam locomotive adventure through the scenic Black Hills. Later, visit the National Presidential Wax Museum. Groups are welcomed with a group rate for 10 or more.
Then, take a short drive to the Crazy Horse Memorial and the Indian Museum of North America. The largest collection of art and artifacts shares the diverse cultures of 300 Native Nations. The memorial hosts a wide-variety of special events. Make certain to check their online calendar.
It’s on to Custer State Park. Crystal clear waters and granite peaks along with historic sites make the park a favorite of locals and visitors. First stop is the museum/visitor center before departing to meet Tatanka. Buffalo Safari Jeep Tour goes off-road in search of pronghorns, elk and buffalo in an open-air jeep. Along the way, your guide shares facts about the park and wildlife.
Your visit to the park concludes with a Hayride and Chuck Wagon Cookout. The old-fashioned hayride takes you on the park’s scenic back roads to a mountain meadow where your chuck wagon feast awaits. You’re sure to have your fill of good food. With souvenir cowboy hat and bandanna, it’s on to the Northern Hills and Deadwood.
After breakfast and checkout, it’s a short drive to Spearfish and the High Plains Western Heritage Center. It’s everything you can expect from an old-western style museum, including a rural schoolhouse and cabin and a view of three states from the second floor. While in the area, connect with Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, a 19-mile stretch of stunning views highlighted by cascading water falls.
Return to Deadwood for lunch before gathering for the 2 p.m. Main Street Shootout – The Strange Case of David Lunt. This is one of the stranger shootouts in Deadwood’s early history. Founder/Owner Kevin Costner invites you to Tatanka Story of the Bison. The larger-than-life bronze statue greets you while the Northern Plains’ Peoples Educational Interpretive Center details how a culture depended on the bison.
The Adams Museum was founded in 1930 to display the history of the Black Hills. The mysterious record of the discovery of gold in the 1830s and the gold nuggets along with much more can be found at the museum. At the Broken Boot Gold Mine, you’ll walk in the footsteps of miners seeking their fortunes. If your supply of gold is getting slim, try the Gold Panning Lesson and keep the gold. OPTION: If you prefer to seek your wealth away from gold mining, there are numerous casinos in Deadwood that welcome groups.
It’s less than an hour drive to Rapid City and check into your accommodations for the night. For your last evening in The Mount Rushmore State enjoy a great dinner in state’s second largest city.
After breakfast and checkout, begin the day with a drive through Bear Country USA. Bring a second cup of coffee while viewing wolves, bears, elk & other North American animals in this wildlife park. Continue your morning with a visit to the Chapel in the Hills, an exact reproduction of the Borgund Stavkirke of Laerdal, Norway. Enjoy an organized tour of the chapel and grounds. The Scandinavian theme is prevalent throughout this place of beauty. Next, Journey Museum & Learning Center summarizes so much of what you’ve seen and done on your Black Hills visit, while adding the finishing touch to the experience. Four collections Geology and Paleontology, Archaeology, Native American Culture and Pioneer History tell the rich history of the area.
A visit downtown explains why Rapid City is the City of Presidents. A series of life-sized bronze sculptures of past presidents can be found along the streets and sidewalks of the city. A downtown walking guide can be found online. There are plenty of downtown casual dining options for lunch on you own.
While downtown a visit to the Prairie Edge & Sioux Trading Post is a must. The mission is to educate the public about the culture of the Northern Plains Indians and provide their artists an outlet. Whether you see this wonderful place as an art gallery, or old-time trading post the experience will stay with you.
Departing Rapid City tour the Black Hills Gold Factory and gain an appreciation for the quality and excellence of the craftspeople as they go through numerous steps to create their delicate designs.