A remote and beautiful mountain range in the northern United States, the Black Hills offer a mix of spectacular natural scenery, historic small towns, and unusual landmarks. For visitors, this region's main attraction is unspoiled nature. For beautiful hiking trails, great river fishing, and inspiring rock-climbing sites, few regions match the Black Hills. Nature lovers will be thrilled to see the largest bison herds in North America, as well as the stark, eroded buttes of South Dakota's badlands. Additionally, there are tour outfitters to assist you in every adventure sport imaginable, from horseback riding in Custer State Park to jet skiing on Pactola Lake.
In the winter, South Dakota continues to celebrate the great outdoors. While the weather can be quite cold, visitors keep warm by alpine skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. For downhill enthusiasts, there are several ski resorts near Lead and Deadwood, which offer a laid-back alternative to the expensive, big name mountains in the Rockies and California.
Throughout the year, most visitors to the Black Hills head straight to Keystone, the town closest to the world famous monument, Mount Rushmore. Well prepared for tourists, Keystone offers gold mine tours, mini golf, souvenir shops, cafes, and even restaurants with window views of Mount Rushmore. From Keystone, board the 1800 Train, a classic steam locomotive that travels through former mining camps, small towns like Oblivion, and beautiful lookout points, like Tin Mill Hill.
From former mining settlements to beautiful mountain ranges, there are many places worth visiting in the Black Hills of South Dakota. When planning your trip, keep these destinations in mind:
Mount Rushmore National Memorial: More than 3 million people visit this giant sculpture annually, which features the faces of four former U.S. presidents on a 60-foot rock face.
Crazy Horse Memorial: Carved into a protruding rock near the town of Custer, the state of Crazy Horse, a Lakota leader, is still unfinished yet continues to draw massive tourism to the region.
Bear Butte State Park: There are two hiking trails that wrap around Bear Butte State Park, both of which hold spiritual significance for the Lakota and Cheyenne people.
Jewel Cave National Monument: So named for the sparkling calcite crystals that cover its walls, this beautiful cave is one of the largest in the world, measuring more than 150 miles.
Museum of Geology: Located in Rapid City, this fascinating museum is filled with dinosaur bones and other fossils recovered from the region.
Mammoth Site: There are skeletons from more than 50 mammoths at this massive archeological site in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
Peace and quiet awaits you in a spacious mountain cabin in the wilderness near Deadwood, Rapid City, or Lead. Make the most of your time by staying in a vacation rental, nestled within the pine forests and craggy mountains of the region.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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