RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Black Hills and surrounding area in South Dakota and even into Wyoming offers many varied attractions for a fully scheduled weekend.
Possibly the most famous attraction of the Black Hills is Mount Rushmore. Drawing tourists from across the globe to see George, Thomas, Teddy and Abe, the faces carved into the rock have cemented themselves as a must-see. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, who stand at approximately 60-feet tall, were carved by Gutzon Borglum and his team and have weathered the stands of time.
Thirty minutes southwest of Mount Rushmore lies the Crazy Horse Memorial. Once completed, Crazy Horse will be 564-feet tall. The Native American monument, which began construction in 1948 and has been privately funded since, will dwarf its neighbor in Mount Rushmore. According to crazyhorsememorial.org, the monument and accompanying museum welcome more than one million visitors each year.
Rivaling famous faces above ground, the Black Hills offers looks beneath the ground, with two cave structures open to touring. Wind Cave and Jewel Cave lie 30 miles apart, and are some of the longest caves in the world. Jewel Cave is more than 180 miles long, while Wind Cave is more than 140 miles long. The duo rank third and sixth in the world in distance.
Wind Cave also houses a majority of the world’s boxwork, which is a special type of rock structure in the ceiling and walls of the cave. Jewel Cave is a National Monument and Wind Cave is a National Park. Both of the caves offer different tours, with varying levels of
Rapid City also has several attractions worth note. As a larger city, it has the modern conveniences of shopping, lodging and dining. It is also home to the Reptile Garden, Bear Country USA and Jump Craze, which is an indoor trampoline park.
A short trip east out of the Black Hills leads to the Badlands National Park. The Badlands show expansive rock formations that were not present a million years ago and will not be present in another million years. With every rainfall, the Badland’s formations change ever
Near the Badlands is Wall, S.D. with Wall Drug. According to the 2010 census, Wall had 766 residents. Wall Drug in downtown started in 1931 with free waters, but turned into shopping center with many modern conveniences.
Ted Hustead, the founder of Wall Drug, wrote on the store’s website; “Free ice water. It brought us Husteads a long way and it taught me my greatest lesson, and that’s that there’s absolutely no place on God’s earth that’s Godforsaken,” he wrote. “No matter where you live, you can succeed, because wherever you are, you can reach out to other people with something that they need.”
Just on the fringe of the Badlands lies Deadwood and Sturgis. Sturgis has a motorcycle rally every August, but can still be a spectacle when the rally is not in session. Deadwood is a National Historic Landmark. Several famous names of the past like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane spent time in Deadwood. In current times, Deadwood has plenty of casinos and saloons nestled in the trees of the Black Hills around it for a weekend full of entertainment.
Just across the border into Wyoming lies Devil’s Tower. Standing at 867 from its base to its summit, Devil’s Tower, originally known as Bears Lodge, can be seen from miles around. There are trails around the base for visitors to get several angles of the tower and even a look at a wooden ladder once used to climb the tower. On some days, climbers can be seen working their way up and down the tower.
The whole region in and around the Black Hills presents many different types of wildlife. From bison and sheep to ferrets and prairie dogs, the area shows many animals in their natural habitats.
From the wildlife to friendly faces carved into rock, the Black Hills and surrounding area can fill a weekend full of sights and attractions.