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Black Hills Attractions
Mount Rushmore National Monument

Mount Rushmore National Monument

In 1927, sculptor and visionary, Gutzon Borglum directed the first explosion to set off the 14 year project of sculpting an American icon, known as Mount Rushmore. Over 3 million visitors travel to South Dakota each year to lay witness to the 60 foot tall statues, carved out of a mass of granite and located within the Black Hills National Forest. Originally, Gutzon Borglum envisioned full bodied statues, but funding for the project dwindled due to the United States entering World War II. The sculptures capture, in detail, the images of four of America’s profound presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. While visiting Mount Rushmore, be sure to hike the awesome Presidential Trail at the base of the monument, or take the Walking Audio Tour that is also available. Entering the memorial is absolutely free; however, there is a fee for parking.

 
Custer State Park

Custer State Park

Custer State Park is 71,000 acres of beautiful South Dakota landscapes with plenty of outdoor activities to satisfy even the most avid adventurer. Take a hike to the summit of Harney Peak, 7,244 feet to the top, which is the highest point in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Accessible from two mountain trails, Sylvan Lake, the “Crown Jewel” of Custer State Park and the Willow Creek Horse Camp. Harney Peak, in fact is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Black Hills and is accessible year round. If you wander throughout Custer State Park on the numerous scenic roads you will travel on the famous Needles Highway, a 14 mile stretch of road through granite tunnels, dense pine forest and picturesque granite spires. The Wildlife Loop Road will take you on an 18 mile journey rich with South Dakota’s wildlife, including buffalo, elk, big horn sheep, mountain goats, deer and prairie dogs.

 

Crazy Horse Memorial

Located just 10 miles from Hill City, Crazy Horse Memorial is the world’s largest mountain sculpture, started in 1948 by Korczak Ziolkowski at the request of Lakota Indian Chief Henry Standing Bear and other Native American elders. Currently, Crazy Horse Memorial is still under construction and upon completion will be 641 feet wide and 563 feet high. Explosive engineers use carefully measured amounts of dynamite, placed in calculated locations, making coordinated blasts, to mold Thunderhead Mountain into the image of Crazy Horse. After the passing of Korczak on October 20, 1982, wife Ruth and 7 of their 10 children continue the monumental task of the carving. At the base of this gigantic man-made wonder is the Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Educational and Cultural Center where you can explore the rich culture and history of Native American Tribes, including many detailed displays, artifacts and Native American art.

 

The City of Deadwood

The historic city of Deadwood, located 45 miles from Hill City, is a multiplex of adventure for vacation travelers of all ages. Reminiscent of the old west, the history of Deadwood started as a crude mining camp during the 1876 Black Hills gold rush. It all began in 1875 when John B. Pearson struck gold in a small canyon, known as “Deadwood Gulch”, in the Northern Black Hills. It wasn’t long before adventurers and miners alike began to flock to Deadwood in pursuit of their dreams of wealth and prosperity. Today, Deadwood continues to breathe an Old West flavor with the help of the Historic Preservation Committee in 1987, overseeing the restoration of the community. From gambling to rodeos, the Old West is still alive in Deadwood, South Dakota.

 

Wind Cave National Park

Near Hot Springs, South Dakota and a 45 minute drive from Hill City, you will find one of the world’s largest underground attractions, Wind Cave National Park. This peculiar maze of underground passageways has been measured at about 120 miles of explored territory, and even today, adventurous explorers continue to discover new corridors. The Lakota tribe considers Wind Cave to be a sacred icon of their heritage, claiming their ancient ancestors ascended from the depths of these caves and surfaced to live above ground. While the cave was documented as being discovered in 1881, it wasn’t until 1890 that a teenage boy named Alvin McDonald plunged into the depths of this massive cave. Since then Wind Cave National Forest is noted for the largest concentration of calcite formations, called boxwork, and is also known for a rare aragonite formation called frostwork. Currently, there are various tours you can reserve to explore the depths of this natural wonder.

 

The 1880 Train

While vacationing in the Black Hills National Forest area, there are many attractions to see, but one experience that should be on every list is the 1880 Train. The 1880 Train is a vintage steam locomotive that rolls on the Black Hills Central Railroad and stands as one of the Black Hills most sought after area attractions. Antique steam locomotives, used to transport passengers across the spiritual countryside, have been accurately restored, and add an authentic flavor to the tour. The entire ride is about 10 miles long and takes around 50 minutes from beginning to end. This is an authentic tour and caution should be taken when dressing for this affair, as the soot can damage clothing. All Aboard!

 

More Attractions

Some of the other attractions include visiting the Jewel Cave National Park, the second longest cave in the world filled with beautiful calcite crystals. Guests enjoy spending an afternoon on the Mickelson Trail, where people of all ages enjoy hiking, walking, biking, horseback riding, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. For the Motorcycle enthusiasts, the Sturgis Motorcylce Rally is a must - celebrating its' 70th Anniversary in 2010. Before you leave Hill City make sure you visit the Alpine Inn's popular restaurant, a historical landmark. Other attractions include snowmobiling, skiing, fishing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, and ATV trails. There is something for everyone in the Black Hills!

 

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