North America Vacations
South Dakota | Black Hills & Mount Rushmore | Adult Only
Explore the two vast worlds (one visible, one hidden) of Wind Cave National Park
6 days / 5 nights
Activity Level Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.
Discover the spirit of the wild, wild west on this action-packed, small group adventure through the Black Hills and Great Plains of South Dakota. Bike the remarkable Mickelson Trail, following the route of the 1890 Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad and keep an eye out for wildlife along the way. Take in the enormity of the Crazy Horse Memorial, its past and present controversies, and the mountain carving’s historic significance. Visit a herd of the friendly, wild, “begging burros” in South Dakota’s first and largest state park, Custer State Park. Descend into the depths of Wind Cave, and, of course, revel in the inspirational and monumental Mount Rushmore. Cushioned with the best in regional accommodations and cuisine, this historically rich and naturally spectacular journey offers the perfect balance of luxury and exploration. What many don’t imagine is an oasis of pine-clad mountains and prairie land, abundant wildlife, a world-class national park, and a host of dedicated Rails-to-Trails bike routes. Join the regional experts in best-in-class travel from Deadwood to Wind Cave and beyond on this six-day, exclusive adventure, all the while enjoying delectable local fare and the ultimate in relaxing accommodations.
- Hike to the top of Bear Butte, an igneous rock intrusion in the Black Hills that is sacred to many American Indian tribes
- Bike all 109 miles of the Mickelson Trail over the course of 6 days, traversing countless railroad bridges and 4 rock tunnels
- Eat local favorites like buffalo stroganoff, elk tenderloin, and stuffed pheasant breast while dining in Custer State Park
- Check out the 60-foot faces of Mount Rushmore from different perspectives on a walk with a knowledgeable guide around the memorial
- Discover the world’s largest mountain carving as you learn the stories about Crazy Horse, a leader of the Lakota people
- Explore the vast underground world of Wind Cave National Park on a ranger-led tour keeping an eye out for formations like frostwork, popcorn, and box work
** Austin Adventures operates under a special use permit on the Black Hills National Forest.
A few more reasons why you've gotta go:
Deadwood: explore the historic gambling town where legendary outlaws of the wild west once roamed.
Mount Rushmore: pictures do not do this US landmark justice. See it for yourself and marvel at its magnificence.
The Mickelson Trail: the meandering hills, rock tunnels and railroad bridges of this trail make it a biking delight for people of all ages.
Rapid City, South Dakota RAP
Rapid City, South Dakota RAP
Rapid City / Sturgis / Spearfish / Deadwood
Begin your vacation by exploring Bear Butte State Park and summit the mountain trail yielding sweeping panoramic views for miles and miles. Experience the Old West and learn why Bear Butte is considered one of the most sacred lands by the Plains Indians. After a short tour of the visitor’s center, we head over to the famous biker town of Sturgis for lunch at a local spot. Load up in the van to travel a short distance away to the town of Spearfish for a bike ride through a neat canyon. This evening, we arrive at Deadwood, our home for the night. We’ll walk the same sidewalks as the likes of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp, and Buffalo Bill, to name just a few. Tonight we enjoy dinner in downtown Deadwood, a short walk from our hotel.
About the Mineral Palace
Located in the heart of historic Deadwood, the Mineral Palace Hotel & Gaming complex includes a grand and gracious 75-unit hotel, the biggest casino in Deadwood, and a first-class restaurant called the Gem Steakhouse and Saloon that offers the largest variety of superb steaks in the Black Hills. Whether you’re partaking in Deadwood’s Legendary gaming halls, exploring the stunning backcountry of the Black Hills, or enjoying a romantic rendezvous, the tastefully appointed guest rooms offer welcome and luxurious comforts.
Mickelson Trail / Deadwood
After a hearty breakfast, we head up to the old gold town of Rochford to begin our first leg of the Mickelson Trail. The trail follows the historic Deadwood to Edgemont Burlington Northern rail line, which serviced gold country for nearly a century. We ride the trail “backward” as we make our way back towards Deadwood. Enjoy lunch and some downtime before spending your afternoon exploring Deadwood on your own. Deadwood is a National Historic Landmark that was originally settled illegally by gold rushers. Experience the historic town that embodies the lawless west as you explore Deadwood’s museums and downtown. Dinner is on your own tonight.
Mickelson Trail / Mount Rushmore
Today, eat a big breakfast because we have a big and exciting day ahead of us! We’ll first transfer by van to Rochford where our continuing ride up and down the Mickelson Trail begins. Pass by the Mystic Trailhead as you make your way to Hill City, the second oldest town in the Black Hills. Near here, we’ll do lunch and perhaps even a bit of swimming. We’ll check into our accommodation for the next three nights, Sylvan Lake Lodge before we depart for a scenic tour of the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road. Explore Mount Rushmore, America’s Shrine of Democracy before dinner at a local restaurant.
About the Sylvan Lake Lodge
Rich in history and natural beauty, Sylvan Lake Lodge holds the designation of Custer State Park’s “crown jewel”. This property features beautifully renovated lodge rooms and cabins, a lounge, a restaurant, and an outdoor veranda that offers breathtaking views. The location of Sylvan Lake Lodge can’t be beat, thanks to the design inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. When the original lakeshore resort burned down in 1935, Wright suggested the current location amidst a forest of pine and spruce trees. The recently renovated Sylvan Lake Dining Room features the best in steaks, seafood, and chef’s specialties.
Mickelson Trail / Crazy Horse / Wind Cave National Park
Another amazing day awaits you! Heading back to Hill City this morning, we’ll resume our Mickelson Trail bike ride, pedaling up towards Crazy Horse. Still, in progress, the Memorial is destined to be some 10 times the size of Mt Rushmore. This is more than just carvings in stone; it is a compound that will eventually pay tribute to the American Indians and the great Indian Chief, Crazy Horse, housing the Indian Museum of North America, Indian University of North America, and a host of other properties. After your tour, pedal back down to the town of Custer where picnic lunch awaits. This afternoon, we’ll begin our ride where we left off to pedal to the tiny town of Pringle. This afternoon we will take in natural beauty as we transfer to Wind Cave to tour one of the most complex and longest caves in the world. Enjoy tonight’s dinner at our accommodation’s restaurant.
Mickelson Trail / Edgemont
Today we will continue our journey south on the Mickelson Trail, completing the final section of our 110-mile journey. This easygoing section of trail passes through rolling foothills, expansive private ranches, and “as-far-as-the-eye-can-see” prairies. Lunch is at the City Park in Edgemont, the official end of the trail, where we will celebrate our last day of biking with a toast! After lunch, enjoy a bit of free time before shuttling to the State Game Lodge for a final dinner together. Tonight, toast to a great week spent exploring the Black Hills!
Sylvan Lake / Rapid City
This morning you have the option to sleep in and enjoy the lodge or head out on one last group hike before we load up. Say goodbye to the Black Hills and head back to Rapid City for our farewells.
We hope you’ll join us again soon!
** Trip itineraries are subject to change without notice due to road, weather, wildlife, and other factors outside of our control, for the safety and enjoyment of our guests, as deemed necessary and appropriate by Austin Adventures.
Arrival & Departure
Please plan on arriving at least one day prior to your trip departure. Day one of your itinerary starts at 8:00 or 8:20 am, depending on your hotel. Your trip ends with a drop-off at either the Rapid City airport (12:00 pm) or your Rapid City hotel (12:30 pm).
Biking: 15 to 32 miles per ride, easy to moderate terrain on paved roads and Mickelson Trail (packed gravel)
Hiking: 2 to 4 miles, easy to moderate terrain
Austin Adventures guides are experienced facilitators and regional experts. They take the time to explain the local history, daily sightseeing, and route options. Each route has been carefully planned to include options to please each traveler’s interests. Austin Adventures guides are available to help you select the distance that’s right for you and to offer advice and assistance as you desire.
Few attractions stir the emotions of visitors the way Mount Rushmore does. Since its completion in 1941, it has joined the Statue of Liberty and the Stars & Stripes as one of America’s most inspiring symbols of democracy. Can you imagine a nose on a person that is 20 feet long?! On Mount Rushmore’s presidents’ six-story tall heads, their rather large noses appear quite normal. Discover the enormity of the Crazy Horse Memorial, its past and present controversies and the mountain carving’s historic significance at the Native American Cultural Center. Visit a herd of the friendly wild begging burros in South Dakota’s first and largest state park, Custer State Park. Descend into the depths of Wind Cave, the first cave designated as a national park and home to approximately 95% of the world’s box work formation. Follow the route of the 1890 Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad on the Mickelson Trail, keeping an eye out for wild turkeys along the way. Follow the steps of famous historic figures such as Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Jack McCall, and Seth Bullock in the Old West historic town of Deadwood. Come see all there is to do in Mount Rushmore State!
Imagine a path where the ghosts of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane still roam; where bicyclists, hikers, and horseback riders can explore spruce and ponderosa pine forests; and the very young, the very old and people of all abilities can enjoy.
The George S. Mickelson Trail, in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills, was completed in September of 1998. Its gentle slopes and easy access allow people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills. Much of the trail passes through National Forest Land, but there are parts of the trail that pass through privately owned land, where trail use is restricted to the trail only.
The trail is 109 miles long and contains more than 100 converted railroad bridges and 4 rock tunnels. The trail surface is primarily crushed limestone and gravel. There are 15 trailheads, all of which offer to park, self-sale trail pass stations, vault toilets, and tables.
The hallmark of an Austin Adventures vacation is our exceptional dining. All meals: breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, refreshments, and receptions ” except one dinner on your own ” are included as indicated by the itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner). Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
After receiving your reservation and deposit, we’ll send you a pre-trip planner with general information about the area you’ll be visiting, a packing list, exercise guidelines, a guest information questionnaire, and a liability release agreement for you to sign and return within 10 days.
Included in Trip Price
- Double occupancy rooms with private baths.
- All meals: breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, refreshments, and receptions, except one dinner on your own.
- Fully trained, first-aid certified professional guides and knowledgeable local partners.
- Bikes, helmets, and other necessary equipment – all safe and well maintained.
- Vehicle support and land transportation during the trip.
- Austin Adventures T-shirt, water bottle, luggage tags, and luggage service.
- Pre-departure and packing information.
- Incidental expenses such as taxes, dining and housekeeping gratuities, local partner and expert gratuities, and national park entrance and permit fees.
Not Included in Trip Price
- Gratuities to Austin Adventures guides.
- One dinner on your own.
- Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities.
- Pre-and post-trip accommodations and associated expenses.
- Air and land transportation to/from host cities.
- All types of personal insurance.
- Personal expenses.
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.1 Easy (1)
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.2 Moderately Easy (2)
South Dakota Expert
As President of Operations at Austin Adventures, Kasey Austin can tell you the logistical ins and outs of every single trip. More than that, though, Kasey has lived and breathed most of the company’s featured destinations and will eagerly share her contagious passion for the transformational power of active travel. Kasey grew up in the adventure travel business; she knows the positive, lifelong impact of family travel, a quality that earned her the distinction of being named top family travel guide by Outside Magazine in 2014.