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Things to do in
Black Hills

Black Hills

Our most recommended things to do in Black Hills

Custer: Black Hills Hot Air Balloon Flight at Sunrise

1. Custer: Black Hills Hot Air Balloon Flight at Sunrise

Go on a hot air balloon tour of the Black Hills and treat yourself to an experience of a lifetime. Admire the beautiful Black Hills and witness historic, wild landscapes and abundant wildlife from a hot air balloon. Soar above the southern Black Hills, and world-renowned Custer State Park with extraordinary 360-degree views of mountains, rock formations, valleys, lakes, and prairies.  Look out for wildlife such as elk, antelope, whitetail deer, buffalo, mule deer, or even a mountain lion. Fly just miles away from Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Wind Cave National Park, and the South Dakota Badlands. Certified pilots will navigate the flight with your safety and enjoyment in mind. During your 1-hour ride, your pilot will answer any questions that you might have and identify local points of interest.  Upon landing, enjoy a celebratory champagne toast, light snacks, and a story about the origin of hot air ballooning.

Black Hills & Badlands: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tours

2. Black Hills & Badlands: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tours

Don’t miss a thing as your favorite audio tour narrator guides you to not-to-be-missed viewpoints, along with fascinating stories, tips and directions throughout the Black Hills and Badlands. Follow the suggested itineraries, or divide the commentary and create your own half, full or multi day sightseeing trips. Witness the variety of spectacular landscapes ranging from the prairies grassland and rock formations of the Badlands National Park, to the four presidential faces carved into Mount Rushmore, through to the mountains, canyons, and forests of the Black Hills. Major Highlights: • Badlands Wall • Bridal Veil Falls • Crazy Horse Memorial • Custer State Park • Custer Wildlife Loop Road • Deadwood • Devils Tower • Door Trail • Fossil Trail • Homestake Mine - Lead • Iron Mountain Road • Keystone • Minuteman Missile Visitor Center • Mount Rushmore • Needles Highway • Pigtails and Tunnels • Prairie Dog Town • Rapid City • Roughlock Falls • Sylvan Lake • Spearfish Canyon • Wind Cave and Jewel Cave • Yellow Mounds Overlook Includes: Enjoy a driving route that takes you to all the best sights and finishes with a trop at Mount Rushmore as the grand finale. Drive the Black Hill loop in the direction it was created - counter-clockwise, which means you will approach Mount Rushmore with peekaboo views through the tunnel along the winding Iron Mountain Road. Venture to the Badlands National Park. See a landscape dominated by prairies, eroding buttes, and fascinating rock formations that created a challenging barrier for pioneers. Receive excellent viewing opportunities and some terrific hikes to enjoy, many easy short boardwalks, but also some challenging and rewarding trails. Visit a decommissioned nuclear missile silo and see examples of how original homesteaders lived. Follow the 19-mile Spearfish Canyon route through 1,000 foot limestone walls. This scenic route also visits what was one of the world's richest gold mining operations at the Homestake Mine in Lead. Don't miss the opportunity to visit Deadwood, whose earliest characters included Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

Mount Rushmore: Self-Guided Tour with Smartphone App

3. Mount Rushmore: Self-Guided Tour with Smartphone App

Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app, which will function as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map all in one. Note: This 1.2+ mile-long tour covers the essentials of Mount Rushmore in 1-2 hours. Once downloaded, your tour of Mount Rushmore begins by the Mount Rushmore Information Center, right next to the monument’s parking lot. From here, you’ll walk toward the mountain itself. Along the way, you’ll stop at a memorial to Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor behind this incredible feat, and learn about his unusual history. Then you’ll walk down the Avenue of Flags, draped with the flags of US states and territories. After that, you’ll arrive at the main viewing platform, where you’ll have a perfectly clear view of Mount Rushmore. Here, you’ll discover how this unlikely project got off the ground in the first place. Next, you’ll head to a second, less-crowded viewing platform, where you’ll hear how workers actually carved this rugged mountain into the presidential faces you see today. As you continue toward the Sculptor’s Studio, you’ll get the full story behind the sculptor’s battles with the Park Service, as well as his plans for a hidden room on top of the mountain! You’ll then arrive at the studio, where you can see a plaster model of the monument’s original design and learn more about Borglum himself. After that, you’ll walk along the Presidential Trail, a short boardwalk through lush forest which offers even more views of Mount Rushmore from different angles. As you walk, you’ll hear about another side of the Mount Rushmore story, this time from the perspective of the Lakota who lived here long before any settlers arrived. Finally, you’ll loop back around toward the main viewing platform and hear about the controversy which swirled around Alfred Hitchcock’s filming of North by Northwest at this monument. Your tour ends at the conclusion of the Presidential Trail, just steps away from the main viewing platform.

Wall: Mount Rushmore & Badlands Self-Guided Audio Tour

4. Wall: Mount Rushmore & Badlands Self-Guided Audio Tour

Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app, which will function as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map all in one. Purchase one tour per car, not per person. Everyone listens together! Note: This 43+ mile-long tour covers the essentials of Badlands & Mount Rushmore in 4-5 hours. Once downloaded, your tour of Mount Rushmore begins outside the Information Center. As you walk toward the mountain, you’ll stop at a memorial to the sculptor behind this monument and hear his story. Next, you’ll stroll down the Avenue of Flags, before arriving at the main viewing platform, boasting a clear view of Mount Rushmore. Too many people? A less-crowded platform waits just ahead, where you’ll hear how workers carved the presidential faces. Then you’ll stop at the Sculptor’s Studio, where you can see a plaster model of the monument’s original design and learn more about Borglum himself. After that, you’ll walk the Presidential Trail, a boardwalk through lush natural scenery. Along the way, you’ll hear about the Lakota perspective on Mount Rushmore. Your tour ends at the conclusion of the Presidential Trail, back at the main viewing platform. At Badlands National Park, your tour begins in the town of Wall (or Philip if it’s more convenient). Upon entering the park, you can choose to detour to a prairie dog colony that’s perfect for animal lovers! That’s followed by Pinnacles Overlook, a great place to see bison or bighorn sheep. At Ancient Hunters Overlook, next, the ancestors of the Lakota used to butcher bison they’d hunted. Then you’ll pass Yellow Mounds Overlook, which reveals millions of years of geologic history! Homestead Overlook comes next. Here, you’ll find out how the Homestead Acts forever changed the Badlands. Then, at Burns Basin, you’ll get a chance to see the site of one of those homesteads! Prairie Winds Overlook is next, offering views of lush, flowing prairie. Then there’s Panorama Point, one of the park’s best spots for photos. After that, you’ll learn how to identify a golden eagle, one of the Badlands’ most iconic residents. The Fossil Exhibit Trail follows, and is a must-see for anyone with younger travelers. This trail uncovers the history behind the many fossils and prehistoric creatures of the Badlands. Next, you’ll come to Saddle Pass Trail, a hike that’s great for birdwatchers. Then there’s the Cliff Shelf Trail, which takes hikers through a juniper forest to break up the rocky landscape. You won’t want to miss the next trio of trails known as The Notch, The Castle, and The Door. Boasting a whole breadth of difficulties and lengths, there’s something for everyone here! Finally, you’ll reach Big Badlands Overlook, offering some of the best views in the whole park. Your tour concludes here.

Rapid City: Private Black Hills Monuments Full-Day Tour

5. Rapid City: Private Black Hills Monuments Full-Day Tour

Enjoy a day of sightseeing on this all-inclusive private tour of the main sights of Black Hills. After a convenient pickup from your hotel, travel to the iconic Mount Rushmore National Monument, where you will spend some time hiking. Learn about how the monument came into existence. Next, travel to Crazy Horse Memorial, where you will learn about one of the most important historical figures in the history of South Dakota. Finally, explore the beautiful Custer State Park. See wildlife at incredibly close proximity and enjoy the local flora.

Badlands National Park Private Tour

6. Badlands National Park Private Tour

Enjoy a private tour for a unique glimpse into the unique beauty of the Badlands National Park. Learn about the history of the area and spend the day discovering the rare geology of the Badlands. After being picked up, take a short drive to the quaint town of Wall to explore and uncover why Wall Drug is so legendary throughout the world. Next, travel into the Badlands National Park to admire some of the rarest and most incredible geological formations in South Dakota. Enjoy a few moderate hikes around the Badlands and with some luck see some local wildlife up close. Lastly, visit the town of Scenic, a ghost town with a great history, which your guide will tell you all about. On your way there, see the Minuteman Missile Site.

Buffalo Jeep Safari & Mammoth Site Tour

7. Buffalo Jeep Safari & Mammoth Site Tour

Get up close and personal with roaming buffalo, deer, and feed the wild donkeys at Custer State Park. Once in the park, board an open-air Jeep and explore the beauty the park has to offer with your guide. Make sure to bring healthy snacks for the wild donkeys and you will have them eating out of the palm of your hands. Next, travel to Hot Springs to get a behind-the-scenes VIP tour of the Mammoth Site. While at this active Paleontological dig site, view fossils from the ice age. Enjoy an interactive learning experience that includes a botany and geological walkway.

Rapid City: Mt Rushmore Custer State Park & Crazy Horse

8. Rapid City: Mt Rushmore Custer State Park & Crazy Horse

Take a private tour of South Dakota's Southern Black Hills (Paha Sapa) and its landmarks. Learn the history and biology via an interactive presentation. Understand why they're called the Black Hills. Discover the mountain before it was carved and its carver and workers. Sit in the amphitheater and view the faces while talking about the monument. Hike the Presidential Trail and take photos at the Grand Overlook. Pause at the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center to view and experience an interactive exhibit. View a film and explore the edited history of Mt Rushmore and the reason for the carved faces. As you ascend Iron Mountain Road, the stunning view of hills and forests full of animals creates an unforgettable sight. Unforeseen attractions like the Pigtail Bridges are at every turn. Intended to make the ride fun, these bridges decrease your speed and allow you to take in the immense granite spires, Aspens, and Ponderosas. Iron Mountain Road takes you through three tunnels cut into the Black Hills granite. They are narrow enough for you to fit and are designed to frame Mt Rushmore. Take pictures, and if it's not crowded, you can go inside to experience being inside a mountain. The tunnels are named after significant contributors to the road and area: Doane Robinson, CC Gideon, and Scoval Johnson. At Norbeck Overlook, you'll see Black Elk Peak, the Six Grandfathers, and the Cathedral Spires. On the ground, you'll notice red rocks thrust up from the earth, which is why they call this place Iron Mountain. It's the abundance of iron-rich schist. This rock is oxidized, has the color of rust, and looks like petrified wood. We now reach Custer State Park. The visitor center is an excellent introduction to Wildlife Loop Road, a well-known spot in SD. On the drive, you may spot various birds, bison, elk, deer, prairie dogs, and pronghorn. Be prepared for bison approaching our vehicle - and stay inside. If the weather is good, you will picnic, or visit a restaurant, then journey to Sylvan Lake, South Dakota, renowned for its beauty in the Black Hills. Ascend the Needles Highway and Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, then explore the lake and a side trail to the store. It's a popular wedding spot, so you will take all the photos you want before continuing. As you continue on, you will approach the Needles Eye. The Cathedral Spires, in the mountains of South Dakota, are a remarkable rock formation. Locals were outraged when they heard about plans to carve the spires. Thankfully, the Spires remain intact, and you can visit them today to take pictures of this extraordinary antiquity. Lastly, head to Crazy Horse. Carved by Korczak Ziolkowski at Chief Standing Bear's request, it's a fantastic sight.

South Dakota: Private Thoen Stone Tour

9. South Dakota: Private Thoen Stone Tour

History and mystery surround this tour as you are personally led by the author of The Kind Whisper, Alan Maas. This tour will leave you wondering did Ezra Kind and his companions really find gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota before California? Maas covers the story and locations where history and legends were made in this Northern Hills tour which includes the actual stone along with Deadwood, The Frawley Ranch, Spearfish, and many extras which will leave you wanting more! This tour includes a copy of the book The Kind Whisper, which you can study before the tour to answer questions and discover surprises. You can also choose to have the book autographed by the author himself!

From Rapid City: Private Spearfish Canyon Tour

10. From Rapid City: Private Spearfish Canyon Tour

Start with pickup from your hotel in the morning and travel to Spearfish Canyon. Journey along the winding road up the canyon and marvel at the beauty of the Black Hills. Arrive at Spearfish Canyon where you will see breathtaking limestone palisades of a creek-carved gorge more ancient than the Grand Canyon. With your guide, choose from different hiking options suited to all levels of ability and experience. Discover incredible waterfalls, scenery, wildlife, and plant life. Enjoy some lunch at a location of your choosing. After your day of exploration, be returned to your accommodation back in Rapid City.

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What people are saying about Black Hills

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 85 reviews

My wife and I really enjoyed the experience. Having the guide really ensured we we saw everything we wanted to over the duration of the tour. Aura our guide was the best. On our next trip out here Black Hills Adventure Tours is our go to guide service with a special request for aura as our guide!

We thoroughly enjoyed the guided tour, and learned more than our excellent guided bus tour on a separate excursion earlier in the week. I highly recommend the GuideAlong app!

Thoroughly enjoyed the tour of Black Hills, Mt Rushmore, and The Badlands. So much information and well told! Many options of great activities along the way.

My husband and I enjoyed it a lot. It was so convenient and audio handheld device was easy to operate.

Our guide was terrific! Enjoyed the entire tour and her knowledge of the area. Thank you! John &Susan