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Black Hills Towns

Custer City is the Black Hills' first town

South Dakota has been our home for decades now, and Custer is where we live.

There are lots of places to stay when you are in the Black Hills, but Custer City is located near many of the areas best attractions.  Crazy Horse is just 2 miles north, the Mickelson Trail passes through town and Custer State Park is not much farther.  I can’t begin to describe the town as well as the Custer Chamber can, so check them out here.

Here are a few of our top picks of things to do and places to eat in Custer, South Dakota.

  • Crazy Horse Memorial – Located just 6 miles north of Custer.  Makes Mount Rushmore look small. 
  • Black Hills Balloons – An awesome way to see the Black Hills from the air.
  • The Mickelson Trail – Go for a bike ride or walk!  This 109 mile long rails to trails path runs right through Custer.  The 6 mile stretch from Custer to Crazy Horse is one of the most scenic.
  • Custer Skywalk Trail – If you have a little time and want to stretch your legs.  There is a great view from the top near the “CUSTER” sign. 
  • Pageant Hill Disc Golf – A fun, challenging course in the woods near Custer.  The Custer Visitor Center may even loan out discs if you didn’t pack yours.
  • The Custer Beacon – Check out this cool new Custer hangout.  Regular live music, brews, simple food and pool tables in a groovy old warehouse.
  • The Custer Wolf – Our favorite go to for good food and brews.  Fun atmosphere and great friendly staff.
  • Skogen Kitchen – Cozy dining experience with an eclectic fancy flair.

Hill City South Dakota

Hill City is home to Granite Sports Outdoor Store where Sylvan Rocks Climbing School was operated out of for many years.  Many people now visit Hill City to ride the 1880 Train.  Hill City has a bustling down town with lots of great things going for it.  Check them out.

Here are some options for your visit to Hill City, South Dakota.

  • Black Hills Institute – Awesome displays of real fossils and replica dinosaur bones – a great gift shop too.
  • Alpine Inn – If you like steak, stop in for supper.  Also great lunches and desserts.  Stop in to shop at Granite Sports while you wait.
  • Miner Brewing Co. – Cozy taproom and patio with yard games in summer.  Live music throughout the year.
  • Maria’s Mexican Restaurant – Great choice for mexican food.  Located across from the Alpine Inn.
  • Shopping – Lots of fun shops and galleries to check out while strolling down Main Street.  Also stop by Inside Out just off the main drag for interesting landscape and garden ideas.
Hill City South Dakota

Rapid City is the Black Hills' largest town

Rapid City is South Dakota’s second largest town and the largest in the Black Hills.  It has come a long way since we first moved to the area.  There is Mountain Biking in town in the Hanson Larsen Memorial Park, and climbing is not very far away.   Learn more by visiting the Rapid City Chamber website.

Rapid City has a lot going on.  Here are few options.

  • Main Street Square – Downtown public square and site of events, music and ice skating in the winter.
  • Summer Nights – Free music every Thursday in the heart of downtown Rapid City.
  • Flags and Wheels – FAST go carts.  A favorite Rapid City activity for the Sylvan Rocks guides.  Also bumper cars, batting cages and more.
  • Jump Craze – Tire out the kid and burn some extra calories with a fun trampoline extravanza.
  • Hanson Larsen Memorial Park – Convenient access to a fun network of mountain bike trails – also known as “M Hill”.
  • Reptile Gardens – It is one on America’s oldest tourist attractions and largest collections of reptiles.  Worth a visit for sure.
Rapid City South Dakota
Deadwood South Dakota - Historic City Hall

Deadwood - the Northern End of the Mickelson Trail

If you are biking the entire Mickelson Trail, you will either start or finish your adventure in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Deadwood is a historic goldrush town known for outlaws and gunslingers that roved the streets in the late 1800s.  It was made more famous by its namesake TV series that aired on HBO 2004-2006.

Many people come to Deadwood for the gambling and historic intrigue, but there is also easy access to the Black Hills National Forest where opportunities for outdoor recreation (biking, hiking, OHV riding, nature viewing…) abound.

Deadwood is just down the road from Terry Peak Ski area, so if you are visiting in the winter stop in for a few turns.  Learn more about visiting Deadwood South Dakota.

Here a few things to get you started.

View of fall aspen color from top of Mount Roosevelt
View of fall aspen color from top of Mount Roosevelt.
  • Mount Moriah Cemetery – Visit the grave sites of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and other famous wild west icons.
  • Mount Roosevelt – located just outside town.  This outing offers spectacular views of town and the surrounding plains and Black Hills.  There is a picnic area at the top, and a 1 mile hike takes you to the historic Friendship Tower, built in 1919 by Seth Bullock.
  • Chubby Chipmunk – AMAZING hand-dipped chocolate truffles.  You gotta try them!

Spearfish - Home to Black Hills State University

Spearfish is a great base for outdoor adventure and sight seeing in the northern Black Hills.  It is right off of I-90 making it a convenient travel stop. 

Beautiful Spearfish Canyon and the surrounding Black Hills National Forest are easily accessible from town.  You will find many options for hiking, nature viewing and mountain biking.  Climbing on the steep limestone walls of Spearfish Canyon is also popular with rock climbers; there is also some ice climb in the winter.  Learn more about visiting Spearfish South Dakota.

Here a few things to get you started.

  • Spearfish Canyon – You gotta at least drive down the canyon.  Fall when the aspen leaves are turning is lovely.  There are also options for hikes and waterfall viewing.
  • Bear Butte State Park – Bear Butte is sacred to several American Indian tribes.  A hiking trail goes to the summit and offers views of the surrounding plains and Black Hills.
  • Blackbird Espresso – Great coffee and homemade baked goods.  A prefect start to a day exploring the Black Hills.  Check out the bikes at Rushmore Mountain Sports next door.
  • High Mountain Climbing Gym – If you need to get your climbing fix but can’t get outdoors.
  • Dough Trader Pizza Co. – Great homemade pizza in a friendly, intimate setting.
Spearfish Canyon Climbing