The jagged, tree-covered peaks of the Black Hills rise abruptly from the Great Plains of South Dakota. This rugged mountain oasis has drawn visitors for centuries, from the Native Americans who considered them sacred to the gold miners that illegally settled the infamous Wild West town of Deadwood, and modern visitors who come for Mount Rushmore, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally or simply to hike and camp within the stunning wilderness. The Black Hills boast numerous must-see attractions tucked into an area only 120 by 50 miles in size. Just outside of Custer, drive the stunning Needles Scenic Byway to see its iconic rock formations, while the Wind and Jewel Caves offer unique underground adventures. Perhaps most recognizable is Mount Rushmore, the 60-foot sculptures of U.S. presidents on the side of the mountain resides near another massive sculpture, the Crazy Horse Memorial, which has been under construction since 1948, and would be the largest sculpture in the world at 563 feet when finished.
The Black Hills are located primarily in southwest South Dakota, bordered by Spearfish to the north, Hot Springs to the south and Rapid City to the east, though the western edge extends to Carlile, Wyoming.
Address: Black Hills, West Pennington, South Dakota 57745, USA
With its rolling hills, roaming wildlife, and natural beauty, Custer State Park is one of the most scenic areas of South Dakota. Its clear streams, tall granite mountains, and open plains present much to see. Herds of bison, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, and even wild turkey are frequently seen from one of the park’s walking trails or scenic drives.
The Needles Highway, Wildlife Loop Road, and Iron Mountain Road are some of the most beautiful drives in the park. Five beautiful lakes and various streams provide opportunities to go fishing, kayaking, and swimming as well.
After gold was discovered in the Black Hills by Lieutenant Colonel George Custer, the area quickly developed. Today it is known more for its wide open spaces and events such as the annual buffalo roundup. There is more than 71,000 acres of wild land to explore, with tunnels, forest, bridges, and viewpoints to stop at throughout.
Custer State Park is just 15 miles outside of the town of Custer, South Dakota on the Highway 16 East. Various visitors centers are located within the park, which is open year-round and costs $15 per vehicle to enter.
Address: 13329 US Highway 16A, Custer, South Dakota, USA, USA