Visit the Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota – There’s More Than Mount Rushmore

While Mount Rushmore is a site I think every US citizen (or anyone interested in the U.S.) should visit at least ONCE in their lifetime, there is lots more to see in the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota beyond this famed National Monument. The Black Hills are not only beautiful, but they are filled with history and lots of fun things to do to make a family vacation you will remember forever!

Since I grew up in Minnesota and live there again now, I have taken many trips to the Black Hills over the years. Whether it was as a kid with my mom and dad, as a young adult with just my husband, or now as a whole family from my 9-year-old nephew to my senior aged mom, we all find lots we love to see and do in the Black Hills.

If you’re into the beauty of nature and being outdoors, there are tons of options! You can take the leisurely route and cruise one of the many scenic drives. My favorite is the Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway, one of the top drives in the nation. It passes through the most amazing buttes, cliffs and multi-colored spires of Badlands National Park. It always reminds me of being on another planet because it isn’t like anyplace else I have ever seen. If you’re looking for something more active, you can spend time hiking, rock-climbing, canoeing, biking, horseback riding – or basically any type of outdoor recreation you enjoy!

One of the sites we have often visited in the Black Hills is the town of Deadwood (which also happens to be a National Historic Landmark), the site of the last big frontier gold rush in North America during the 1879s. You can visit the places legendary figures such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane both lived and died. On our last trip to Deadwood we visited Broken Boot Gold Mine where we toured the gold mine once operated by gold miners using only candlelight and we also had a chance to pan for gold ourselves! (Everyone leaves with a bit of gold.)

Another family favorite since I was a little girl is visiting the Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota. The park is perched high on a hill and features towering, life-sized Dinosaur replicas. You can also take in a spectacular 100 mile view of the Black Hills. This free attraction is also listed in National Register of Historic Places.

Whatever you decide to do or wherever you decide to visit in the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota you’re sure to experience a vacation you’ll remember for a lifetime!

If you’re visiting the Black Hills, be sure to also check out our post about South Dakota’s Best Wildlife Viewing in Custer State Park!' About Chrysa

Chrysa is the founder and owner of, a site dedicated to living a fabulous life on a frugal budget. Her approach is that by spending less on the boring everyday stuff, you can have more money to splurge on the things you REALLY want, whether it’s travel, fashion, electronics – you name it! Chrysa is married, has a 8-year old nephew she dotes on, as well as three lovable cats and a big sweetie of a German Shepherd.


  1.' Jenna Wood says:

    I never knew South Dakota had so much to offer- I love that there is something for everyone in the family from the kids to the adults. We have some dinosaurs like that here in SoCal we love to stop at on road trips!

  2.' robin rue says:

    My husband was stationed in South Dakota before he came back here and loved that area. He talks very fondly about it!

  3. Oh wow! I had no idea that the Badlands were so beautiful. I don’t think beauty when I hear the name “Badlands”. Thanks for setting me straight!

  4. I love that you can find so many kid-friendly travel options. My kids would go nuts for the Dinosaur Park!

  5. South Dakota has been on my bucket list for so long. I automatically think of Mount Rushmore (doesn’t everyone). Though now I’m even more excited about Dinosaur City, that place looks awesome.

  6. My husband went to school in Montana and has been to the Black Hills and Badlands several times. He wants to bring us all there so bad. I want to see the dinosaurs.

  7. South Dakota looks beautiful. I will have to put it on my list of places to see.

  8. I’d love to see Mount Rushmore, and take the Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway! It sounds wonderful to see!

  9. I am super envious of you! I have never been to Mount Rushmore, but would love to see it in person.

  10. Our kids and grandkids live there and it is spectacular! I find that most people don’t know where it is unless you say big rock with 4 presidents, then they are like, oh, yeah…

  11. I have always wanted to go here. Mt. Rushmore would be so nice to be able to see. I really hope someday I will get to go.

  12. The Badlands was one of my favorite National Parks when we were traveling about the country. The prairie dogs were so cute and the scenery was breathtaking.

  13. This looks like Such a fun place to explore. I’ll have to add it to fun places to take the family.

  14. I have never thought of South Dakota as a vacation spot, but it looks like fun. The scenery looks amazing and visiting Deadwood would be a once in a lifetime experience.

  15.' Claudia Krusch says:

    Wow South Dakota has a ton of fun things to do with the whole family. I am hoping to be in the area this fall.

  16.' Susan Hartman says:

    I hope someday to be able to travel to South Dakota. I live in New Jersey and have never been in that area. It looks beautiful. My husband & I like history so I’m sure we would enjoy it.

  17. I would love to travel the Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway. I can see that being a favorite stop. BTW, I haven’t seen Mt. Rushmore so I know I would want to. I would also enjoy panning for gold

  18. So pretty! I would love to make a trip to the black hills. Maybe next summer!

  19.' shelly peterson says:

    What a beautiful place. Sounds like a fun place to take the family.

  20.' Janet W. says:

    I can’t believe I’ve never been to South Dakota before! Looks so amazingly beautiful!!

  21.' Julie Wood says:

    I would love to visit South Dakota and see Mount Rushmore and the badlands. What a gorgeous city to visit on vacation!

  22. This is a trip that we’re really wanting to make. Perhaps next summer.

  23. Thanks for the memories…we used to make this trip every other year when I was growing up! Your list is missing my favorite, though, which is Custer State Park!

  24. I do agree that every American should see Mount Rushmoore at least once. I never knew there were so many other things to do in the area.

  25. I would recommend a visit to the beautiful “Dignity” statue in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Please Google it to get an idea of the strength and beauty of this sculpture of a Native American woman. It’s incredible!

Add Your Comment


Privacy Policy

Disclosure: We may receive advertising income from some blog ads and/or links on our blogs.

Thrifty Jinxy ©2013 - All Rights Reserved