Category: South Dakota

Rapid City, South Dakota

A- Overview:
Rapid City lies west of the Missouri River at the heart of a landscape of prairies, pine forests, and desolate, rocky outcroppings. South Dakota’s second-largest city is a great place from which to explore the well-known Black Hills. Founded only two years after the gold boom in the Black Hills, Rapid City is a boomtown that has truly made a name for itself.

This land was once dominated by the proud and mighty Sioux nation. Today, there are nine Native American reservations in South Dakota. The Sioux influence in Rapid City can be seen in the shops and museums that display and sell Native American art and artifacts.

The vast Black Hills National forest covers 1.3 million acres on the state’s western edge. Known for its magnificent forests, mountain scenery and ghost towns, the region is home to the natural splendors of bison, deer, coyotes, elk, mountain goats, and big horn sheep. It is among these hills that sculptor Gutzon Borglum labored for more than 14 years sculpting the granite cliff which displays the faces of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt are carved. Also, in the Black Hills region the largest sculpture in the world, the Crazy Horse Memorial, is being created. When finished, it will depict the Dakota warrior who defeated General Custer at Little Bighorn.

The Black Hills were the backdrop for the Academy Award-winning film “Dances With Wolves.” Formal gardens, at Halley Park, Sioux Park, Memorial Park and on Canyon Lake Drive, are all places in which to relax and gain a new perspective on the majesty and beauty of the West.

Black Hills gold is sold to tourists at countless roadside jewelry shops and factory outlets, while mines continue to produce millions of dollars worth of it every year. Several historic mines offer tours.

One popular tour is found in the mile-high town of Lead at the Black Hills Mining Museum. The tour winds through re-created mining tunnels lined with figures posed to display old-fashioned and modern mining equipment. The museum is on Lead’s narrow Main Street, which is bordered by neatly restored early 20th-century commercial buildings. Even more authentic, however, is the carefully restored gambling mecca of Deadwood, just three miles away.

Set in a narrow valley, the entire town of Deadwood is one large historic district with a Victorian-era Main Street anchored at one end by the landmark Franklin Hotel. The hotel’s white-columned portico along with Main Street’s ornate cast-iron lamps and renovated storefronts make it easy to picture what life in the Black Hills was like in the early 1900s.

The transformation came not too many years ago when hard economic times reduced funds for historic preservation and Deadwood was in danger of a serious decline. The turnaround began in 1989 when casino gaming in Deadwood was legalized. Today a portion of every dollar made from gambling goes toward preserving Deadwood’s architectural heritage, resulting in its current well-kept and historically accurate appearance.

The casino restaurants offer a wide variety of excellent cuisine. Steaks are featured, beef as well as bison. There is also locally caught trout and pheasant on many menus.

All in all, Rapid City’s heartland hospitality amid a backdrop of some of the most attractive scenery in America, makes Rapid City a sure bet for a memorable trip.

B- City Information:
Population: 59,607

Elevation: 3247 feet above sea level

Land Area: 44.6 square miles

Location: Located in the southwestern section of South Dakota on Interstate 90

Time Zone: Mountain Standard Time (when it’s noon in Rapid City, it’s 1pm in Chicago, 2pm in New York City, and 11am in Los Angeles). Rapid City observes Daylight Saving Time from April – October

Weather:

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Average temp. (°F)
22.3
26.2
33.4
42.8
53.4
63.3
70.1
68.7
58.6
47.2
32.8
24.9

High temperature (°F)
34.3
38.1
45.4
54.6
64.8
75.0
82.7
82.4
72.8
60.7
44.3
36.9

Low temperature (°F)
10.3
14.3
21.3
30.9
41.9
51.4
57.3
54.9
44.4
33.6
21.1
12.7

Precipitation (in)
0.3
0.4
0.9
2.0
3.4
3.1
2.7
2.1
1.2
1.6
0.5
0.3

Climate:

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Days with precip.
6
7
8
10
12
12
9
8
6
6
6
6

Wind speed (mph)
10.7
11.1
12.4
13.1
12.2
10.9
10.1
10.2
11.0
11.2
10.9
10.5

Morning humidity (%)
69
71
75
73
76
78
74
72
68
67
69
69

Afternoon humidity (%)
64
61
54
47
48
49
41
37
39
46
60
64

Sunshine (%)
57
60
63
62
60
65
73
74
70
66
55
55

Local Seasons:

Summer tends to be busiest time of year, but at any given time special events both in the city as well as in the nearby areas do increase the number of tourists visiting the area. Rapid City has four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and sometimes hot with cool nights from June through September. During this time, the daytime temperature is near 80 F and the evening temperatures registering in the 50’s F. Fall begins in mid September when the temperatures begin to drop, offering cool weather into November and making it an excellent time to explore the many outdoor sites in the area. While winter temperatures can be very brisk, cold spells usually alternate with milder weather. Snowfall is prevalent—providing excellent conditions for winter sports. Spring brings a re-birth to the area with mostly sunny days, but this can be the rainy season. Spring snow showers are a possibility through early May as well. During this time, temperatures can range from the 40’s F to the 80’s so be sure to bring appropriate clothing.

How to Get There:

By Air

Rapid City Regional Airport

4550 Terminal Road
Rapid City, South Dakota 57703
605-394-4195

The airport is the commercial airline hub for the Black Hills and is served by many of the commuter affiliates of the major national airlines.

Ground Transportation

Most of the major car rental companies as well as taxi, limousine, and shuttle bus services are available at the airport

By Car

Interstate 90 is the main route for driving to the Black Hills, but visitors can also enter the area on East-West highways US 16, US 18, US 212, SD 34, or SD 40; and North-South highways US 85, US 385 and SD 79. The South Dakota Department of Transportation keeps all highways in excellent driving condition, even during hard winters.

By Bus

Greyhound

Milo Barber Transportation Center
333 6th St.
Rapid City, SD 57701

605-348-3300

Call for schedule and additional information

How to Get Around

With so many sites to see and things to do, both within Rapid City as well as throughout the surrounding area, the best way to get around is by either personal or rental car

National Holidays:

New Year’s Day: Jan. 1

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day: 3rd Mon. in Jan.

President’s Day: 3rd Mon. in Feb.

Memorial Day: last Mon. in May

Independence Day: July 4

Labor Day: 1st Mon. in Sept.

Thanksgiving Day: 4th Thurs. in Nov.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: Dec. 24 and 25

New Year’s Eve: Dec. 31

C- Attractions/Things To Do:
1880 Town-South Dakota’s Original
Interstate 90, Exit 170
605-344-2259
605-642-2248
Explore more than 30 original turn-of-the-century South Dakota buildings. The buildings have been relocated to this site from throughout the state and furnished with thousands of unique relics of the Old West. Features include a 4-sided barn, a Casey Tibbs tribute, Buffalo Bill display, Town Hall-historic film shown continuously, Western art collection, and an 800-acre longhorn cattle ranch.

Badlands National Park
51 miles east of Rapid City on I-90
Visitors can immerse themselves among jagged cliffs, deep canyons and flat-topped buttes lies one of the most stunning geologic displays visible on earth. Experience Indian cultural exhibits, roadside exhibits, nature trails.

Crazy Horse Monument and Heritage Village
Black Hills
17 miles SW of Mount Rushmore on Hwy. 16-385
605-675-4681
The Crazy Horse Memorial is a memorial to the famous Native American leader, in the form of a huge statue of the rider on horseback. This monument is carved on the side of a mountain. The site includes a full function Visitor Center and is the home of the Indian Museum of North America.

Custer State Park
Custer
800-658-3530
Where the Buffalo Roam Free. Enjoy scenic drives among 73,000 acres of natural beauty.
Guided tours and many park resort areas are available. While cruising the wildlife loop, you never know what you may see bobcat, buffalo, antelope, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and much more.

Devil’s Tower National Monument
120 miles west of Rapid City – Wyoming Hwys. 14 and 24
An awesome rock tower rising 264 meter above the Wyoming Plains, Devils Tower is actually the remains of the inside of an ancient volcano, featured in the science-fiction film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. For visitors interested in hiking, there is a flat trail that encircles the tower. There are many interesting trees and plants to observe on this trail, and you might also spot some climbers on the Tower.

Fort Hays Dances With Wolves Chuckwagon Supper & Western Music Show
8181 Mt. Rushmore Road, Hwy. 16W
Rapid City, SD
605-394-9653, 888-394-9653, 605-394-0197
Enjoy the film set where “Dances with Wolves” was filmed, while overlooking the beautiful Black Hills. Make sure to bring your appetite to the nightly roast beef chuckwagon suppers & western musical show.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Black Hills
25 Miles Southwest of Rapid City Hwy. 16A
605-574-2515
The monument consists of the enormous statues of four US presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt ad Abraham Lincoln – carved from the side of the mountain. There are exhibits detailing the life story of Gutzen Borglum, the monument’s designer, and explaining how the monument was constructed.

Wind Cave National Park
Black Hills
65 miles Southwest of Rapid City, Hwys. 16A and 385
One of the world’s oldest caves; follow 44 miles of underground tunnels and caverns. The cave tours are the main attraction of this National Park.

Jewel Cave National Monument
53 miles southwest of Rapid City, Hwy 16
Jewel Cave is a giant underground labyrinth with a myriad of beautiful “jewel-like” Dogtooth and Nailhead Spar crystals.

Bear Country USA
8 miles south of Rapid City on Hwy. 16
605-343-2290
See where the animals roam free! Bears, mountain lions, Rocky Mountain Elk, big horn sheep, buffalo, and timber wolves are just a few of the creatures in this drive through wildlife park.

Children’s Science Center
515 West Blvd
Rapid City, SD
605-394-6996
605-394-6177
The Children’s Science Center is a science technology museum with “hands on/minds on” exhibits for children of all ages. The museum also includes a gift shop, picnic grounds and gardens.

Cosmos of the Black Hills
17 miles south of Rapid City
605-343-9802
One of the strangest locations in the Black Hills, where the world is topsy-turvy. The laws of nature seem to have gone completely berserk at The Cosmos and nothing is in its normal position.

Reptile Gardens
Mt. Rushmore Road (6 miles South of Rapid City)
Rapid City, SD
605-342-5873
Reptile Gardens Houses the largest collection of reptiles in the world. Featuring four great shows to keep you entertained all afternoon!

Rushmore Waterslide Park
3 miles South of Rapid City on Mt. Rushmore Rd
Rapid City, SD
605-348-8962
A great family spot with 9 exciting slides up to 400 feet long. Bring the family and enjoy the kiddie pool, picnic area, hot spa, and much more.

South Dakota Air & Space Museum
I-90, Exit 66 7 miles east of Rapid City
EAFB
This museum features static displays of the B-52 Bomber, a B-26 Invader, C-47 cargo plane, F-101 VooDoo jet fighter, and much more.

Storybook Island
1301 Sheridan Lake Rd
Rapid City, SD
605-342-6357
This family adventure is Free and Fun! A children s fairyland features 128 fairy tale scenes, live animals, special events, and food concessions. Make sure to bring the entire family!

The Flintstones, Bedrock City
Outside Custer on Hwy. 16 & 385
605-673-4664
Take a step back in time and enjoy Brontoburgers or Dino Dogs. Bring the family for a ride in the Flintmobile and Iron-Horse Train.

The Journey Museum
222 New York St
Rapid City, SD
605-394-6923
The newest Museum to develop in Rapid City, The Journey has combined collections from the Museum of Geology, State Archaeological Research Museum, The Sioux Indian Museum, Minnilusa Pioneer Museum, and the Duhamel Plains Indian Artifacts. This is one attraction you should not miss!

The Ranch Amusement Park
3 miles south of Rapid City Hwy. 16
605-342-3321
The Ranch offers fun family activities that include bumper boats, go-carts, arcades, miniature golf, and much more.

Trout Haven
Hwy. 385 20 minutes from Rapid City via Hwy. 44
605-342-6009
For a true fishing excursion come out to Trout Haven where the trout are always biting! Trout Haven furnishes poles and bait, clean your catch, and package them.

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
1500 Lacrosse St
Rapid City, SD
605-343-8540
Put-Put Golf for the whole family to enjoy!

Old Fort Meade Museum
1 mile east of Sturgis Hwy 34
Established in 1878, Fort Meade displays numerous mementos of the colorful units and troopers who served in the Dakota Territory.

Museum of Geology
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
501 East St. Joseph St
605-394-2467
800-544-8162
The Museum of Geology is an exhibit facility that presents an astonishing array of fossils, minerals, and rocks that are representative of the geologic diversity of South Dakota. The fossil collection includes dinosaurs such as Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus and Edmontosaurus, a duck-billed dinosaur.

Evans Plunge
Hwy. 385 in Hot Springs
605-745-5165
Great family fun in these natural hot springs. Thrills and spills for everyone to enjoy in these natural spring fed pools.

Black Hills Central Railroad – The 1880 Train
Depart from Hill City Hwy 16 & 385 or Keystone on Hwy 16
605-574-2222
All aboard for a 20-mile trip on a real steam train. The train is just like the one that opened and settled the Great American West.

Thunderhead Falls
10 miles from Rapid City on Hwy 44W
605-343-0081
A gushing 8 cubic feet of water falls. This waterfall is buried deep within 600 feet of mountain and runs vertically for more than thirty feet. Visitors can explore the old mine that houses this spectacular display.

D- Family Fun Attractions:
Bear Country USA
8 miles south of Rapid City on Hwy. 16
605-343-2290
See where the animals roam free! Bears, mountain lions, Rocky Mountain Elk, big horn sheep, buffalo, and timber wolves are just a few of the creatures in this drive through wildlife park.

Children’s Science Center
515 West Blvd
Rapid City, SD
605-394-6996
605-394-6177
The Children’s Science Center is a science technology museum with “hands on/minds on” exhibits for children of all ages. The museum also includes a gift shop, picnic grounds and gardens.

Cosmos of the Black Hills
17 miles south of Rapid City
605-343-9802
One of the strangest locations in the Black Hills, where the world is topsy-turvy. The laws of nature seem to have gone completely berserk at The Cosmos and nothing is in its normal position.

Reptile Gardens
Mt. Rushmore Road (6 miles South of Rapid City)
Rapid City, SD
605-342-5873
Reptile Gardens Houses the largest collection of reptiles in the world. Featuring four great shows to keep you entertained all afternoon!

Rushmore Waterslide Park
3 miles South of Rapid City on Mt. Rushmore Rd
Rapid City, SD
605-348-8962
A great family spot with 9 exciting slides up to 400 feet long. Bring the family and enjoy the kiddie pool, picnic area, hot spa, and much more.

South Dakota Air & Space Museum
I-90, Exit 66 7 miles east of Rapid City
EAFB
This museum features static displays of the B-52 Bomber, a B-26 Invader, C-47 cargo plane, F-101 VooDoo jet fighter, and much more.

Crazy Horse Monument and Heritage Village
Black Hills
17 miles SW of Mount Rushmore on Hwy. 16-385
605-675-4681
The Crazy Horse Memorial is a memorial to the famous Native American leader, in the form of a huge statue of the rider on horseback. This monument is carved on the side of a mountain. The site includes a full function Visitor Center and is the home of the Indian Museum of North America.

Devil’s Tower National Monument
120 miles west of Rapid City – Wyoming Hwys. 14 and 24
An awesome rock tower rising 264 meter above the Wyoming Plains, Devils Tower is actually the remains of the inside of an ancient volcano, featured in the science-fiction film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. For visitors interested in hiking, there is a flat trail that encircles the tower. There are many interesting trees and plants to observe on this trail, and you might also spot some climbers on the Tower.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Black Hills
25 Miles Southwest of Rapid City Hwy. 16A
605-574-2515
The monument consists of the enormous statues of four US presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt ad Abraham Lincoln – carved from the side of the mountain. There are exhibits detailing the life story of Gutzen Borglum, the monument’s designer, and explaining how the monument was constructed.

Wind Cave National Park
Black Hills
65 miles Southwest of Rapid City, Hwys. 16A and 385
One of the world’s oldest caves; follow 44 miles of underground tunnels and caverns. The cave tours are the main attraction of this National Park.

Storybook Island
1301 Sheridan Lake Rd
Rapid City, SD
605-342-6357
This family adventure is Free and Fun! A children s fairyland features 128 fairy tale scenes, live animals, special events, and food concessions. Make sure to bring the entire family!

The Flintstones, Bedrock City
Outside Custer on Hwy. 16 & 385
605-673-4664
Take a step back in time and enjoy Brontoburgers or Dino Dogs. Bring the family for a ride in the Flintmobile and on the Iron-Horse Train.

The Journey Museum
222 New York St
Rapid City, SD
605-394-6923
The newest Museum to develop in Rapid City, The Journey has combined collections from the Museum of Geology, State Archaeological Research Museum, The Sioux Indian Museum, Minnilusa Pioneer Museum, and the Duhamel Plains Indian Artifacts. This is one attraction you should not miss!

The Ranch Amusement Park
3 miles south of Rapid City Hwy. 16
605-342-3321
The Ranch offers fun family activities that include bumper boats, go-carts, arcades, miniature golf, and much more.

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
1500 Lacrosse St
Rapid City, SD
605-343-8540
Put-Put Golf for the whole family to enjoy!

Black Hills Central Railroad – The 1880 Train
Depart from Hill City Hwy 16 & 385 or Keystone on Hwy 16
605-574-2222
All aboard for a 20-mile trip on a real steam train. The train is just like the one that opened and settled the Great American West.

E- Events & Entertainment:
Events & Entertainment

January

Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo

Held in late January

Location: Rushmore Plaza Civic Center

605-394-6923

Call for additional information

Black Hills Gift Show

Held in late January

Location: Best Western Ramkota Hotel

605-367-3181

Call for additional information

February

Mardi Gras

Held throughout February

Location: Deadwood

800-999-1876

Call for additional information

Black Hills Sports Show and Sale

Held in mid February

Location: Rushmore Plaza Civic Center

605-494-4115

Call for additional information

March

St. Patrick’s Weekend

Held over St. Patrick’s Day Weekend

Location: Deadwood

900-999-1876

Call for additional information

Rockin’ Into Spring

Held in early March

Location: Deadwood Pavilion

800-999-1986

Call for additional information

June

South Dakota Good Sam Skate Samboree

Held in mid June

Location: Rapid City

605-341-7255

Call for additional information

Wild Bill Days

Held in mid June

Location: Deadwood

800-999-1876

Call for additional information

Black Hills Square and Round Dance Festival

Held in late July

Location: Downtown Rapid City

605-394-4115

Call for additional information

August

Blackhills Motorcycle Rally

Held in Early – mid August

Location: Sturgis

605-642-8166

Call for additional information

During the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, hundreds of thousands of riders experience the many things to see and do in the Rapid City and Black Hills area. From the five National Parks and Monuments, to abundant history and wildlife, including one of the largest herds of buffalo in the world found at Custer State Park, rally goers will discover that the Black Hills are one of the most spectacular touring destinations around.

September

Dakota Roping Association Finals

Held in mid September

Location: Central States Fairgrounds

307-896-2405

Call for additional information

October

Octoberfest

Held in mid October

Location: Deadwood

800-999-1876

Call for additional information

Entertainment:

Black Hills Symphony Orchestra

1202 E Saint Francis St
Rapid City, SD 57701

605-348-4676

Call for performance schedule and additional information