The Black Hills of South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park are bucket list destinations. Together they make for a great American road trip. Allow at least four days for the Black Hills portion. Below is a suggested itinerary that includes eight nationally recognized icons like Mt. Rushmore Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial and Historic Deadwood. Here in South Dakota, we call them the Great 8. Follow along on our Mapped itinerary; lets get started!
Traveling west on I-90 make your first stop Badlands National Park, 244,000 acres of eerie topography and a photographer’s dream. Do not miss the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, located at three sites along a fifteen mile stretch of Interstate 90 between the Badlands exit 131 and Wall, South Dakota. For a top side tour of the Delta-01, reservations are required. Call us at 866-601-5103 or search online. Visit the world-famous Wall Drug. Overnight in Wall. Use our Great Maps of the Black Hills.
Travel on to Rapid City and take Hwy 79 south to Hot Springs and visit the Mammoth Site, an indoor active paleontological dig site and the only late Ice Age facility of its kind in North America; and Evans Plunge, a natural, warm water, spring-fed pool. Travel north to Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. Drive the wildlife loop and see a herd of 1200 free roaming buffalo. Move on to Custer City and visit Crazy Horse Memorial where a fifth granite face has emerged in the Black Hills. Overnight in Custer or Hill City. Places to Stay
Just west of Custer on Hwy 16, is Jewel Cave National Monument, the second longest cave in the world, named for the jewel-like crystals that line its passages. Head to Mt Rushmore either thru Hill City or back through Custer State Park’s Iron Mountain Road. A morning visit to Mt Rushmore is the best time to take photos. Plan time for breakfast, shop, walk the presidential trail and visit the museums. In Hill City, enjoy wineries, shops, or a ride on the 1880 Train. In Keystone, enjoy shops, museums and two adventure parks. Evening entertainment can include a chuck wagon supper and show, dinner at Mount Rushmore followed by the Lighting Ceremony or an evening meal in Keystone, Hill City or Rapid City. Rapid City’s choices of attractions include Bear Country, the Presidential Walk, Reptile Gardens, Gold Jewelry manufacturing, Cosmos, the Journey Museum and the shops and events at Main Street Square. Check out our lodging options
Head west on I-90 and cruise the streets of legendary Sturgis and onto Historic Deadwood via Hwy 14A. Here, visitors can walk the streets made famous by Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. In the summertime, shoot-outs on main street and the Trial of Jack McCall are visitor favorites. Other attractions include a gold mine tour, city tours of Deadwood and Lead, museums and Boot Hill, the final resting place for Wild Bill and Calamity Jane. Take a ride on the Deadwood Stagecoach and a tour of the Deadwood Brothel. Check it out. Deadwood also features Las Vegas style gaming, so try your luck. Overnight in Deadwood, Lead or Spearfish. Lodging Options
Depart Deadwood for Lead and onto Spearfish Canyon National Scenic By-way and experience waterfalls, hiking trails and great places to eat. Travel onto Spearfish and experience the D.C Booth Fish Hatchery, museums, shops, and restaurants. Travel west to Wyoming on I-90 and detour to Devils Tower National Monument at Sundance. From the Black Hills, allow at least 7 hours to the east gate community of Cody, Wyoming where in the summertime, you can take in the nightly rodeo. Overnight in Cody or take I-90 from South Dakota to the North Gate at Gardiner, Mt.
Day 6, 7 & 8
Depart early for Yellowstone National Park and overnight in either Cody, Wyo and enter via the East Gate or Gardiner, Mt and enter via the North Gate. On days two and three, tour Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Canyon, Upper Falls, Artists Point and the hundreds of hot pots, hot springs and geysers including Old Faithful. Overnight in Yellowstone or West Yellowstone. Go early and stay late to see the Fire Hole at Twilight and Yellowstone Lake at sunset. Take time to walk the vast trail systems and visit the Old Faithful Museum at Old Faithful Inn. Ask about tours of the historic lodges. One of the coolest way to tour the world’s first national park (1872) is in a 1920’s style bus. The distinctive antique yellow vehicles are great for wildlife viewing and sightseeing. Have your camera ready for bear, bison and wolf sightings!
Travel south to Grand Teton National Park or return home via Crook City, Bear Tooth Pass and Red Lodge Mountain.