Rapid City, South Dakota
Situated at the base of the Black Hills and a short drive to an incredible array of attractions, Rapid City is the gateway to your South Dakota adventure.
The second largest city in South Dakota, Rapid City sits on the western edge of the state, surrounded by some of the most beautiful and unusual landscapes in the country. This bustling city still has a warm, small town feel although it offers the nearest major airport to Mount Rushmore and all the conveniences travellers need. Rapid City is perfectly located for visiting the Black Hills, the Badlands, and the Caves.
Explore Parks, Monuments, and Memorials
Rising from the plains, the Black Hills stand above Rapid City filled with natural beauty and famous monuments.
Just 20 minutes from the city is Mount Rushmore National Memorial, where the faces of four Presidents are carved 500 feet above the ground into solid rock. Not far away, the Crazy Horse Memorial, still in progress, recognizes the rich Native American heritage of the area.
Spreading across many miles of land are Black Hills National Forest and Custer National Park, both of which offer endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors and explore the history of this awe-inspiring land. A little further you will find Badlands National Park and a landscape unlike any other.
The enormous caves that snake beneath the surface of the land hold secret wonders for visitors. Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument are among the largest caves in the world and feature unusual rock and crystal formations in their many miles of hidden places. Closer to Rapid City you’ll find Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns.
Uncover the History of the Black Hills
Historic towns dot the landscape of the Hills, telling the tale of a Gold Rush and the excitement of the Old West. Try your hand at panning for gold or walk the streets of a frontier town just as the pioneers did years ago.
Within Rapid City and in the surrounding areas are several places to explore life in the Old West, including the 1880s town and Fort Hays Western Town and Chuckwagon. Just into the Black Hills, in either Keystone or Hill City, you can catch the 1880s train for an exploration of the area from the rails.
Rapid City’s Journey Museum offers artifacts and an opportunity to learn more about life in the early days of settlement here.
Enjoy Amazing Attractions
Rapid City is home to many fun and fascinating attractions for visitors of all ages. From rare wildlife to family fun, Rapid City has endless options.
Get up close and personal with the cold-blooded at the Reptile Gardens, or see the great bears that roam the hills at Bear Country USA. Walk among giants at Dinosaur Park, where enormous statues of the great creatures who once walked these lands cast a shadow once more.
Spend the day experiencing thrills at Ranch Amusement Park, or splash in the waters at any time of year at Watiki Waterpark or in the summer sun at Rushmore Waterslide Park. Experience the mysteries of the Cosmos of the Black Hills where the impossible is possible.
Don’t miss some of the fun and educational museums in the area, including the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, and the Geology Museum, where you can learn more about the unique geology of the Black Hills and the Badlands.
The Artistic Side of Rapid City
From unique art galleries to public projects, Rapid City is home to an artistic and cultural treasure trove. Galleries both large and small features local and world-class art, while the very streets of the city offer free exhibits to visitors.
The Dahl Arts Center and Apex Arts Gallery welcome art enthusiasts from around the world with ever-changing exhibits and ongoing art projects. Multiple galleries offer a wide range of Native art and crafts for viewing and for purchase.
Walk the streets of Rapid City’s downtown area and you will see a parade of Presidents cast in bronze. This City of Presidents public art display is among the largest in the nation. Also free in the downtown area is the urban Art Alley project.
Staying in Rapid City
Rapid City offers a wide range of lodging options from luxury suites to romantic bed and breakfasts. Whether you are looking for a budget hotel or a vacation rental for a family to spread out, Rapid City has many to choose from. As the largest city in proximity to the Black Hills and their many attractions, Rapid City is a popular place to set up a base from which to explore the surrounding areas. Visitors will find major chains in the hotel industry represented as well as small independent hotels to choose from as well.
Dining options are also varied in Rapid City, from meals on the run to fine dining. Since Rapid City still holds to its small-town feel, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. Rapid City’s downtown area offers many options often within walking distance of hotels.
Rapid City also offers a variety of shopping options, from retail stores to unique boutiques and gift shops.
Getting to Rapid City
Rapid City has a major airport, with flights arriving from most destinations across the U.S. and other nations. Since there is so much to do in the area surrounding the city, air travelers will want to consider renting a car to make exploring easier; tours by bus are also available for those without transportation.
Rapid City can be reached by car just off Interstate 90 from the east or west, and other smaller highways offer access to the city as well for travelers coming north through the Black Hills or south from North Dakota.