You are here:
Scenic Dakotas Home >> South Dakota >> Black Hills Trip Plan

Make a Black Hills Trip Plan
Pictures and Information

If you plan on traveling to the Black Hills, you need some sort of a trip plan. You can't just do what we did, and travel there without any clue what you are going to do. Why? Because you will find out, like we did, that there are too many things to do around there, and it is hard to make a decision. So, you have to have at least some idea of the available attractions before you get there.

Where will you stay? Will you be camping or staying in a motel? When our next door neighbors went to the Black Hills, she said they went "cabin hopping," from one campground to the next all the way to Mount Rushmore.

I'm not so sure I would advise this. Since most of the small towns are not very far from each other, I think it would be better to just stay in one campground the whole time you are there, and I would recommend the campgrounds around Custer SD, which is centrally located near all the attractions.

Your other options are the small towns of Deadwood, Hill City, and Keystone.

Here's what's so confusing about finding some attractions to go to. When you pick up brochures at a motel or campground, for some reason I expect the attractions to be in the same general area as where I am located. But this is not the case. The attractions can be up to 25 miles from where you are at. I think I spent several hours just pouring over the brochures and booklets, to come up with just a few things to do.

So most of the time we would just drive to the small town, park, and walk around browsing and window shopping for a couple of hours. This seemed to satisfy us instead of traveling to visit attractions that are overblown, or a tourist trap. So this is what I would recommend to make the most out of a one week stay in the Black Hills.

Here's the list they pass out for all the attractions in the Black Hills.

Our Trip Plan, What We Did

Day 1
Arrived at Custer Mountain Campground, via Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park

Day 2
Went to visit Mount Rushmore, drove to the town of Deadwood, drove back to Custer through Hill City.

Day 3
Left the campground and went looking for a place to swim, we wound up at the East Shore of Stockade Lake in Custer State Park. Stayed a couple of hours and left to go find a hammock. We stopped at the Dakotamart, which has camping supplies, found a hammock, and picked up some drinks and camping supplies, like a gas grill, and tarp. Then went and got an ice cream.

Day 4
Stayed close to the camp all day, laying in our hammocks. Then went to get an ice cream and went back to the camp, packed some gear and hiked back up the mountain to see the sunset, and check out the Crazy Horse Monument light show.

Day 5
Left to do some shopping in Custer. Got some coffee at Starbucks, and browsed the tourist shops.Left to go the Jewel Cave National Monument, and the tours were all sold out so we bought two tickets for the Lantern Tour for tomorrow, they are 8 dollars each. Drove back to town and decided to go have lunch in Hill City, and check out the Harley Store.

Day 6
Slept in the hammocks instead of the tent. It worked out pretty good. Made a video of a drive through of downtown Custer SD.
Left at 9:00am for the 10:30 Jewel Cave Lantern Tour. Got there too early, the gate was locked. Made a video of the trip there.

Day 7
Went to view Mt Rushmore one more time, drove through Keystone, then toward South Rapid City, and jumped onto Interstate 90 and headed home

In September of 2012 we went back to the Black Hills for our anniversary. Here's a short video we made to remember our trip. We called it: Fun in the Black Hills.

Also see our Experience Spearfish Canyon SD short movie, and the Highlights of the Badlands movie.

Thanks for visiting
Photography © Vlad and Carol in Tripp, SD
Questions about this website? Email us at: