South Dakota’s western region has some of the most well-known attractions in the state, including Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills. If you’re not drawn to the western region for these, you will be drawn by its rugged beauty and adventurous spirit.
South Dakota’s top tourist attraction, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, draws more than three million people each year. Located near the city of Keystone, the sculpture commemorates the first 150 years of American history. The majestic granite sculpture of Mount Rushmore commemorates four powerful presidents who helped shape our nation: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Visitors of Mount Rushmore are awed by this majestic memorial and are touched by this symbol of our nation’s freedom.
The breathtaking natural formations that make up the Badlands National Park offer 244,000 acres of dramatic gorges, towering peaks, and rolling prairies. They may look foreboding at first glance, but many herald the unique beauty, ancient fossils, and otherworldly atmosphere found in the Badlands. Visitors to The Badlands National Park are also in close proximity to other popular parks and monuments. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, and Jewel Cave National Monument are all within brief driving distance of The Badlands National Park.
The Black Hills National Forest comprises a vast area of 1.2 million South Dakotan acres, affording nature enthusiasts a virtually limitless outdoor playground. The rugged terrain, challenging inclines, old logging trails, and quick switch-backs make it a haven for the adventure-seeking mountain biker. It is also home to Mount Rushmore and many of the other states top attractions.
The world’s largest mountain sculpture, Crazy Horse Memorial, is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota near the town of Custer. The magnitude of this memorial rivals the significant accomplishments of Crazy Horse, a legendary Lakota leader. Crazy Horse is only 17 miles from Mount Rushmore so it’s a quick drive between the two.
With more than 71,000 acres of prairies, mountains, and forests, Custer State Park is a prime destination for outdoor recreational activities, picnicking, camping, and wildlife sightings.
Bear Butte, near Sturgis, combines nature’s majesty and mystery in a way that has captivated visitors since before white people ever laid eyes on it.Bear Butte has a unique story and appearance that make it one of South Dakota’s cultural and geologic treasures, and for those reasons the mountain has been partially protected in modern times with a state park designation. It’s also a National Natural Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.
Perhaps the most authentic way to experience the majestic beauty of western South Dakota’s Black Hills, the 1880 Train is a fully functioning, antique steam locomotive. Children and adults will enjoy the train’s steam-puffing engines and long, low whistle.
At Rushmore Cave you will find fun on every level. Whether you are soaring through the sky on the new Soaring Eagle Zipline or exploring underground in the stalactite-filled caverns on a fun and educational Cave Tour, you are sure to have a great time, full of affordable family fun and great vacation memories. Rushmore Cave is the closest cave to Mount Rushmore and home of the legendary “Big” room. This room – layered with extraordinarily large number of stalactites dangling from its ceilings and walls – is one of the largest decorated cavern rooms seen on any area cave tour.
Probably all of the people who stop at Wall Drug are on their way to someplace else – e.g. Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Devils Tower, or home – but their experience at Wall Drug is often the one they look back on with the biggest smiles and the most laughter.
Located in Rapid City, Reptile Gardens offers fun and excitement for the whole family. They maintain the finest collection of tropical plans and reptiles in the world, and have more species and subspecies of venomous reptiles than any other zoo or park anywhere!
Rapid City’s Art Alley is a unique outdoor art space, open to anyone with an artistic bent. Literally an alley, Art Alley is an open air art gallery in downtown Rapid City.
Bear Country U.S.A. is an experience like no other, and certainly the only one of its kind in South Dakota. If you’ve ever wanted to see bears up close and personal, or experience a bobcat running nearby, Bear Country U.S.A. is the experience you’re looking for.