→Note: this post is the first in a series as we cover a week long vacation itinerary. Our trip starts at Rapid City, South Dakota.
- Rapid City, South Dakota is a great “home” base for all this area has to offer.
- Rapid City has a major airport.
- Excellent family vacation destination.
- When to go: Anytime. We recommend May, June, July and September. (Note: the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place during the first two weeks of August. We do not recommend going at this time unless you are planning to participate in the rally.)
There is so much to do in the western part of South Dakota that you could actually spend several days (or weeks) at most of the sites we’re going to talk about, however, we’re going to do it in one week. For those who want to do it all and see it all, but don’t have a lot of time, this road trip is the one for you!
Starting in Rapid City, let’s hit the road.
*Recommended hotel in Rapid City: Holiday Inn Express on I-90. (Restaurants and shopping nearby.)
*Recommended splurge restaurant in Rapid City: Minervas Restaurant & Bar – 2111 N. LaCrosse St.
*Recommended family restaurant in Rapid City: Chili’s Grill & Bar – 2125 Haines Ave.
*RV and tent camping available in many locations in and around Rapid City.
Destinations: Devils Tower National Monument and Spearfish Canyon
Travel tip: this will be a full day, so plan to leave early in the morning. We recommend 7:00 am. Pack a picnic lunch, road snacks, plenty of water, and suitable-for-hiking footwear for this day trip.
Drive time between Rapid City and Devils Tower National Monument: 1.75 hours.
⇒Take I-90 West toward Sturgis. Bonus Stop: Sturgis, South Dakota. Even if you’re not a biker, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame is worth a stop.
⇒Continue on I-90 via Spearfish, and then on to Sundance, Wyoming. At Sundance, the road changes to US Highway 14. Bonus Stop: Sundance, Wyoming. Crook County Museum – 309 E Cleveland St. Nice museum with history about the area and the Sundance Kid.
Travel tip: top off your gas tank in Sundance.
⇒Continue on US Highway 14, then take Highway 24 north toward Devil’s Tower. Make a quick stop at the Devils Tower Trading Post for souvenirs before proceeding to the park entrance.
Devils Tower National Monument
- Website link: Devils Tower National Monument
- Cost: $20.00 per car (as of August, 2018). Travel tip: the National Park Service will be increasing all park entrance fees during the next year.
- RV and tent camping available in the park.
- Picnic areas and hiking trails in the park.
- Night sky programs.
- Climbing is permitted with registration of climbers.
After a stop at the visitor center, we recommend taking Tower Trail for a hike around the base of Devils Tower. Just a little over a mile long, the trail is easy (stroller friendly) and has some tree shaded areas and benches. Look up to see (the very gutsy) climbers on the tower. Afterward, enjoy a picnic lunch in the park.
⇒Take Highway 24 back to US Highway 14/I-90 east toward Spearfish, South Dakota. Bonus stop: Vore Buffalo Jump (archaeological site). Take Exit 199. Here’s a link: Vore Buffalo Jump.
⇒At Spearfish take US Highway (Alt)14 south (Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway). Breathtaking scenery. Can’t miss: Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls for photo ops. Plan to hike the easy, paved trail at Roughlock Falls.
⇒Continue on US Highway (Alt)14 to Deadwood.
Bonus stop: Deadwood, South Dakota. This town is a National Historic Landmark, rich in Black Hills Gold Rush and Old West history. Shopping, casinos, bars and restaurants, as well as historic homes, a museum, and the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.
Hotels and camping available in Deadwood.
⇒Continue on US Highway 14 to Sturgis, then take I-90 east to Rapid City.
We hope you had a fun and exciting first day of your Black Hills vacation. Check back next week for Day Two. Until then…
Travel safe, travel smart and we will see you down the road.
Mike and Kellye
As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.