North America Vacations
South Dakota | Black Hills & Mount Rushmore | Family
Prairies, pronghorns, and National Parks in the spectacular Great Plains of South Dakota
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.
Pack your kids and favorite cowboy hat and get ready for a nonstop-action, family-friendly adventure discovering the many surprises of South Dakota. For this all-inclusive South Dakota vacation package, we’ve carefully crafted an itinerary filled with the best of “the land of infinite variety,” from rolling prairies and glacial lakes to iconic American monuments, including Mount Rushmore and the ever-evolving Crazy Horse Monument. Our guides can’t wait to introduce you to the rambunctious wildlife, pine-studded Black Hills and colorful history surrounding this Midwestern state. Step back in time to the lawless days of the Wild West for a glimpse into the past as you bike, hike and explore the dusty streets of Deadwood and Wind Cave National Park, one of the world’s most unique national parks. Throughout this rip-roaring journey, enjoy the finest in regional accommodations and cuisine as Austin’s signature touch of inspired, thoughtful service invites you to relax and spend time creating unforgettable memories with the kids as you fall in love with the outdoor treats and national treasures of South Dakota.
The Black Hills of South Dakota: a family-friendly oasis of pine-clad mountains and prairie land, abundant wildlife, world-class national parks and a host of dedicated Rails to Trails bike routes. On this six-day, custom adventure, our expert guides introduce you to the many spectacular wonders of this expansive state while you enjoy the simple pleasures of hanging out with your kids, learning to rock climb and keeping your eyes peeled for pronghorn dashing across the grasslands. This trip-of-a-lifetime awaits you and yours!
- Walk in the footsteps of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill in the Old West town of Deadwood
- Bike along an abandoned railroad through the heart of the Black Hills on the Mickelson Trail
- Hike the base of Mount Rushmore and visit the famed Crazy Horse monument (which, upon completion, will be 10 times the size of Rushmore!)
- Take a dip in the pristine waters of Sylvan Lake after trying out your hand at rock climbing
- Explore the vast underground world of Wind Cave National Park
** Austin Adventures operates under a special use permit on the Black Hills National Forest.
A few more reasons why you've gotta go:
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!
Wind Cave National Park: At nearly 140-miles long, this cave is now marked as the sixth longest cave in the world!
Rapid City, South Dakota RAP
Rapid City, South Dakota RAP
Rapid City / Sturgis / 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. Afterwards 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 our home for the next couple nights, Deadwood. 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. If time permits we will explore the world of gold panning at Golden Boot. Tonight’s dinner is at the Deadwood Social Club. Packed full of history and surrounded by the wild west.
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.
Spearfish / Spearfish Trout Hatchery / Deadwood
Today, we head over to the nearby town of Spearfish for a bike ride through a neat canyon. Enjoy a delicious guide-prepared lunch at a local park. Following lunch we will walk to the Trout Hatchery where we can learn and explore the Von Bayer Museum or visit the Neo-Colonial Revival Booth House. This afternoon, enjoy some downtime or walk around the Mount Moriah Cemetery where Wild Bill and Calamity Jane were laid to rest; visit one of several of Deadwood’s museums, highlighting life in the days of outlaws, gold panning, and Native American skirmishes; or take an “old-time,” black and white photo at Woody’s Wild West. Dinner in Deadwood.
Mickelson Trail / Crazy Horse / Sylvan Lake
After a hearty breakfast we head to one of the many trailheads of South Dakota’s Mickelson Trail to cycle the historic Deadwood to Edgemont Burlington northern rail line, which serviced gold country for nearly a century. Regenerate yourselves with a lunch prepared by your guides. After lunch transfer to Crazy Horse for a tour. 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. Night on your own for dinner tonight.
About 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 which 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.
The awe-inspiring views, comfortable accommodations, exciting activities, and mouthwatering meals will leave you so satisfied you may never want to leave!
Little Devil's Tower / Keystone / Mount Rushmore
Today, eat a big breakfast because we have an exciting day ahead of us! From Sylvan Lake we’ll depart on a neat hike to Little Devil’s Tower. Snake through quaking aspen and Black Hills Spruce to make your way to the granite scramble at the base of the tower. The summit greets you with jaw- dropping views of the Cathedral Spires, Black Elk Wilderness and the brick fire tower atop 7,242-foot Harvey Peak. This afternoon, we depart for a scenic tour of the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road on our way to explore Mount Rushmore. Dinner in the historic town of Keystone.
Wind Cave / Sylvan Lake / Wildlife Loop
This morning, we will partake in a beginner top rope climbing adventure on the Black Hills granite rock surrounding Sylvan Lake. You’ll have all of the equipment and instruction you need to feel comfortable and safe, even if you’ve never climbed before. Indulge in a delicious picnic lunch back at Sylvan Lake. 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. End the afternoon by driving the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park on the lookout for bison, antelope and wild burros on our way to our final night’s dinner at the State Game Lodge.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the dining room before loading up the van, luggage in tow. Say goodbye to the Black Hills and head back to Rapid City for our farewells.
**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: 20 to 25 miles per ride, easy to moderate terrain on paved roads and Mickelson Trail (packed gravel).
Hiking: 2 to 5 miles, easy to moderate terrain. Bear Butte – 1,025 feet of elevation gain over 2 miles (out and back).
Swimming: There will be several opportunities to swim in lakes this trip; but remember, weather is a factor and cold weather may prevent swimming from taking place.
Rock Climbing: 3 to 4 hour climbing adventure on the granite rocks bordering Sylvan Lake. Gear and detailed instruction will be provided by professional rock climbing guides, ensuring you’ll feel comfortable, even if you’re a beginner.
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 boxwork 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 the Mount Rushmore State!
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 itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner). Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
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 Vice 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.