From lunar like landscape to gold mines or the natural wilderness and dangerous buffaloes. This is South Dakota.
Pick your places and start the new adventure to check few more points in the “great things to do” list.
1. Mount Rushmore National Monument
Majestic figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, surrounded by the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota, tell the story of the birth, growth, development and preservation of this country. Nearly three million people visit Mount Rushmore each year.
The Black Hills are in the southwestern portion of the state of South Dakota, as well as the northeastern portion of the state of Wyoming and cyclists enjoy views of the area's rock formations, lakes, prairies, cliffs and gorges.
The area offers organized cycling tours, trails, highways and mountain biking routes suitable for beginners and elite cyclists.
The Adventure Cycling Association (you can find it here: adventurecycling.org) offers Black Hills Inn-to-Inn tour which is a 234-mile tour begining in Rapid City, traveling throughout the Black Hills region and passing plains and mountains.
The route passes Mount Rushmore National Memorial and rides through Custer State Park, with rides averaging 39 miles per day. Participants stay at lodgings each night of the tour, and the registration fee includes all accommodations. The ride is limited to 14 riders per trip making advanced registration necessary.
Tip: spring tours are $100 less than fall tours due to lodge pricing.
2. Badlands National Park
Some describe it as lunar-like and cyclists are often surprised to discover how impressive the Badlands features seem without a windshield to impede the view. From the back of a bike, it almost feels like you can reach out and touch the rugged buttes and twisted spires. Bicycles are only allowed on designated paved, gravel, and dirt roads within Badlands National Park. The Badlands Loop Road is open to cyclists who prefer a paved riding experience.
The scenic road is narrow with many curves, and you have to know that traffic is heavy from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You should also take plenty of water with your, because it is not available along the route.
This striking South Dakota landscape boasts a maze of buttes, canyons, pinnacles and spires that will enchant you, for sure.
Breathtaking rock formations and native grasslands filled with numerous species of plants and animals guarantee you’ll want to pause somewhere along the route to enjoy the view.
3. Custer State Park
The clear mountain waters are inviting, and the open ranges are waiting to be discovered. Bring your family to Custer State Park, and let yourself run wild.
Custer State Park in the Black Hills encompasses 71,000 acres of spectacular terrain and an abundance of wildlife.
Within the park, you'll discover a world of adventure! Custer State Park's early pioneers, ranchers and loggers have left behind miles of trails and backcountry roads to explore. Several of these trails are shared by hikers, horse riders and mountain bikers.
You can ride The Badger Clark Historic Trail, located behind the historic Badger Hole, home of Charles Badger Clark, South Dakota's first Poet Laureate. Or, South Dakota Centennial Trail, a 111-mile trail spans the length of the Black Hills from Bear Butte State Park in the north to Wind Cave National Park in the South - approximately 22 miles of the trail are located within Custer State Park. And, of course, Creekside Trail, a paved trail follows Grace Coolidge Creek which offers a variety of scenery. The trail passes by the State Game Lodge, the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center, Coolidge General Store, and the Park Office.
There are several bridge crossings that are roller blade friendly. The trail is fairly level, except for a walkway near the park office where bikers are asked to walk their bikes. This is a trail the entire family can enjoy. Ah, we were about to forget the popular Lovers Leap Trail, the Prairie Trail and the Stockade Lake Trail which are great options for you to take memorable rides here.
4. Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial is located in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills. The Mountain is 6,532 ft and ranks 27th highest mountain in South Dakota. It is made of pegmatite granite and was chosen by Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski & Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear for the Crazy Horse Memorial. Crazy Horse Memorial offer visitors inspiration to “never forget your dreams”, lessons in historical and contemporary Native culture, and unparalleled scenic beauty.
If you come here, you must take one of the special tours, there are several family friendly tours that run daily making it an unforgettable experience.
Don’t leave before going to Laughing Water Restaurant to try their one of a kind Tatanka Stew or the authentic Native American Tacos. No reservations needed, walk-ins are more than welcome. Crazy Horse Memorial is open 365 days a year with many seasonal offerings throughout the year. The bicycle access costs only $5.00.
5. Wind Cave National Park
Bison, elk, and other wildlife roam the rolling prairie grasslands and forested hillsides of one of America's oldest national parks.
Below the remnant island of intact prairie sits Wind Cave, one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this maze of passages is home to boxwork, a unique formation rarely found elsewhere. Tours are offered 362 days a year and you can choose the one that interest you more. Bicycling in Wind Cave National Park offers visitors a great opportunity to experience and enjoy the abundant resources of the park.
There are several different habitats, prairie forest and riparian, with a variety of plants and animals within the park. But, bicycling is limited to established park roads. Bicyclists can ride comfortably on US Hwy 385 as it has wide shoulders. You may also travel on the back-roads of Wind Cave National Park NPS 5 and 6. These roads provide visitors with a great opportunity to experience the prairie areas of the park.
But take care, you should be aware that wildlife roam freely throughout the park. All animals are wild and you should give them plenty of space... Bison (buffalo) can be particularly dangerous. They can run 35 miles per hour and may weigh a ton. So…
6. Homestake Gold Mine
Tour some of the underground gold mines and experience the gold boom days of the Black Hills.
Don't forget to pan for some gold of your own... will you strike it rich?
America’s largest gold mine until it closed in 2001, the Homestake Gold mine offers above-ground tours that illuminate the underground mining process and tours the historic town of Lead, South Dakota. Homestake Gold tour tickets are $7.50/adult, $6.50/student, $6.75/senior, $25/family of four.
7. Spearfish Canyon
Located in the northern Black Hills, this is a year-round playground for outdoor adventure. With five convenient exits off Interstate 90 and a wealth of quality places to stay, it is the place to call home during your Black Hills vacation – anytime, any season.
Passersby can see the canyon en route to other Black Hills attractions on US Highway 14A, which winds through the canyon for nearly 20 miles from the city of Spearfish to Cheyenne Crossing.
Built on top of an ancient rail bed, the highway affords visitors views of pristine natural wonders and historical treasures. Once you are here, you must see the Spearfish Falls, it is a slightly off the beaten path, but the walk is well worth this magnificence of the waterfall. Don’t miss also the splendor of the Bridal Veil Fall which is located approximately 5.8 miles south of Spearfish Canyon's north entrance.
Finally, take a break from your day to experience Roughlock Falls, a breathtaking multi-tiered waterfall along Little Spearfish Canyon.
8. Sioux Falls
This is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Dakota. You'll stay busy while you are in Sioux Falls, as they have plenty of things to do!
From the famous Falls Park to entertainment, shopping, and family fun, you'll find everything you love. No. 1 attraction remains Falls Park. So, walk from downtown Sioux Falls to the gorgeous Falls Park, located at North Phillips Avenue and Falls Park Drive. Today, the park covers 123 acres. An average of 7,400 gallons of water drop 100 feet over the course of the Falls each second. See the city's namesake as well as some of the first buildings built in Sioux Falls.
Walk, jog, bike, or rollerblade your way along the Big Sioux River as it flows through Sioux Falls, taking on The Big Sioux River and Recreational Greenway. This is a 19.13 mile trail that begins at Falls Park and loops around the city.
The River Greenway offers a paved bike trail that winds through scenic urban and wildlife areas. The trails are maintained in the winter as well, so enjoy a nice crisp winter walk for year-round outdoor enjoyment.
9. Rapid City
You can have it all, from adrenaline-charged outdoor activities to thoughtful cultural pursuits and all the heart-stopping scenery in between. When you stay in Rapid City, you’re within an hours drive of six national parks and monuments and surrounded by a local culture that’s rich with history and artistic expression. In this land where gemstones and natural wonders have been forming for eons, even the smallest roadside stand holds the promise of a big discovery.
Start your exploration of downtown Rapid City by strolling from corner to corner of a six-block area along Main to Joseph streets viewing life-size bronze sculptures of the 42 presidents. At Prairie Edge Trading Co. and Galleries, you can learn about the Dakota culture and see one of the country’s best collections of authentic Plains Indian art, crafts and culture.
The world’s largest known collection of Italian glass beads (more than 2,600 different styles and colors) from the same Venetian guild that supplied fur traders in the 19th century are on display.
And just across the street from Prairie Edge is one of Rapid City’s newest attractions, Main Street Square, a beautiful public space featuring water features, flowering gardens, granite spires.
Welcome to the Sounth Dakota’s capital, a picturesque city with tree lined streets, parks, and a historic downtown. It was founded in 1880 when gold prospectors settled down in the Dakota Territory during the Great Dakota Boom. Start exploring with the Trail of Governors, then hop on your bike and visit the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center.
Next up, check out the South Dakota National Guard Museum or the South Dakota Discovery Center. Ok, you have to take a break and grab some donuts or bagels from a local shop like the locals do. With energy totally fueled go to see South Dakota State Capitol.
Enough with cultural activities for now! It’s time for an adventure! Pierre is home to several parks and recreation areas, including two state parks LaFramboise Island Nature Area and Farm Island Recreation Area.
Driving across the causeway south of Steamboat Park, you’ll find a great view of the river and the city of Pierre going to LaFramboise Island. The island has a popular trail system ideal for hiking, biking, walking, photography, and nature viewing. It’s easy enough for all ages to enjoy and has a large number of diverse species that call it home. Common sightings are deer, wild turkeys, and bald eagles.
Farm Island, to the East of Pierre, is attractive for many visitors with its beautiful camp sites, swimming beaches, fishing opportunities, and trails. There are eight miles of hiking trails within the recreation area which provide a quiet place to observe nature.
Have you ever rode in any of these places in South Dakota? Tips and tricks are more than welcomed in our playground here!