South Dakota – Black Hills to Mt. Rushmore

 

South Dakota – Black Hills to Mt. Rushmore
 
Trip Summary
 
Mention the Black Hills of South Dakota and most of us remember an old Beatles song about one
very special raccoon who resided there. For others, visions of Sturgis, the world’s largest motorcycle
rally, come to mind. What many don’t imagine is an oasis of pine-clad mountains and prairie land,
abundant wildlife, world-class National Parks and forests and a host of dedicated Rails to Trails bike
routes.
 
The legendary Great Plains and Black Hills of South Dakota are the perfect backdrop for your 6-day
biking adventure. Follow an abandoned railroad along the Mickelson Trail, traversing countless
bridges and rock tunnels. Hike the base of Mount Rushmore, explore the Native American cultural
center at Crazy Horse Monument and snap photos of bison, elk, sheep and prairie dogs on a ride
along the aptly named Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. At the end of the day, treat yourself to a
hot stone massage and delectable meal before calling it a night in the comfort of your exquisite
resort, hotel or lodge.
 
Itinerary
 
Day One: Rapid City / Sturgis / Deadwood
Begin your vacation by exploring Bear Butte State Park and summit the mountain trail yielding
sweeping panoramic views for miles and miles • Experience the Old West and learn why Bear Butte
is considered one of the most sacred lands by the Plains Indians • After a short tour of the visitor’s
center, we head over to the famous biker town of Sturgis for lunch at a local spot • Tour the Sturgis
Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame • Load up to finish the day’s journey, traveling past Deadwood
to begin our first bike ride on the Mickelson Trail • Pedal down the crushed limestone gravel path
towards Deadwood, our home for the night • We’ll walk the same sidewalks as the likes of Wild Bill
Hickok, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill, to name just a few • Tonight’s dinner is at the
fabulous Jake’s Restaurant, owned by Kevin Costner • Kevin fell in love with the area after filming
Dances with Wolves and the restaurant is filled with his movie memorabilia • Overnight Silverado
Franklin Historic Hotel (L, D)
 
Day Two: Mickelson Trail / Custer State Park
After a hearty breakfast we head up to the aspen forested Dumont Trailhead to begin our second leg
of the Mickelson Trail • The trail follows the historic Deadwood to Edgemont Burlington northern rail
line, which serviced gold country for nearly a century • The route takes us south through the heart of
the Black Hills • We catch up with the van for lunch at Tracy Park, and then take a walk down small
town Hill City’s artsy streets • After you’ve bought a few Black Hills souvenirs, shuttle to our home for
the next three nights, the Blue Belle Lodge, located in Custer State Park • Take a short drive to the
State Game Lodge, where you will taste culinary delights such as smoked pheasant pasta or buffalo
ribeye • Transfer back to your lodge for a good night’s sleep in your cozy room • Overnight Blue Bell
Lodge (B, L, D)
 
Day Three: Mount Rushmore / Crazy Horse
Today is your chance to take a day off from biking, stretch your legs and explore some of the true
treasures of the Old West • Navigate the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway with its impressive granite
tunnels and pigtail bridges to your first stop: Mount Rushmore! • After hiking the base of Mount
Rushmore, exploring the in-depth Visitor Center, and diving into the humongous gift shop, we will
head to our secluded picnic spot just minutes away • A short shuttle past that is Crazy Horse
Monument • Still in progress, the monument is destined to be some 10 times the size of Mt
Rushmore • This is more than just carvings in stone; it is a compound that will eventually pay tribute
to the American Indians and the great Indian Chief, Crazy Horse, housing the Indian Museum of
North America, Indian University of North America and a host of other properties • After viewing
Crazy Horse, we will shuttle back to Custer State Park and enjoy a chuck wagon barbeque,
complete with genuine cowboys and a hay ride • Overnight Blue Bell Lodge (B, L, D)
 
Day Four: Wildlife Loop or Mickelson Trail
Depending on conditions in Custer State Park and our group’s input, we will either bike the Wildlife
Loop or section three of the Mickelson Trail. The Wildlife Loop is appropriately named and will take
us through the south end of Custer State Park. In true western spirit, we’ll pedal through pine
covered hills and along foothills and prairie. Keep your camera handy as we are sure to run into
more wildlife than you can imagine: Bison, Pronghorn, Elk, White Tail and Mule Deer, Bighorn
Sheep, Prairie Dogs and Coyotes. We’ll stop for a guide prepared lunch back at the Bluebell Lodge •
Our other option is to bike the beautiful section of the Mickelson Trail from Hill City to the town of
Pringle where you will pedal through green cow-dotted farmland, aspens shimmering in the wind,
and tall granite rock formations • This section will be key in finishing the whole 110 mile Mickelson
Trail • This afternoon, opt for a hike or a pleasant afternoon relaxing in the Blue Bell Lodge’s calming
atmosphere • Tonight’s dinner is on your own at the dining room of the Blue Bell Lodge • Here is
your chance to taste some local favorites at this down home restaurant – including our favorite,
Bison meatloaf • Then it’s back to your room to turn in for a much needed good night’s rest •
Overnight Blue Bell Lodge (B, L)
 
Day Five: Custer / Hot Springs
Today we will continue our journey south on the Mickelson Trail, completing the final section of our
110 mile journey • This easygoing section of trail passes through rolling foothills, expansive private
ranches, and “as-far-as-the-eye-can-see” prairies • Lunch is at the City Park in Edgemont, the official
end of the trail, where we will celebrate our last day of biking with a toast! • After lunch, we load up
the bikes and shuttle to our home for the evening, the Red Rock River Resort and Spa • After five full
days of biking and hiking through the Black Hills, there’s nothing like treating yourself to a wide
variety of massages or treatments • Dinner tonight is at the quaint Sage Creek Grille in Custer •
Overnight Red Rock River Resort and Spas (B, L, D)
 
Day Six: Hot Springs / Rapid City
Savor your last hearty breakfast at a local bakery before we shuttle north to Wind Cave National
Park • Wind Cave encompasses two worlds: one visible and one hidden • A sea of waving prairie
grasses covers 70 percent of the park • Hidden beneath this scenic landscape lies Wind Cave • Over
80 miles of explored passages intertwine in a complex three-dimensional maze • The vast and
unknown depths of Wind Cave represent one of the last frontiers on Earth • After our guided tour of
the caves we load up, say goodbye to the Black Hills and head back to Rapid City for our farewells •
(B)
 
*Not ready to say goodbye quite yet? Consider extensions to Badlands National Park (an hour south
of Rapid City) or Devils Tower National Park (a few hours west in Wyoming).
 
Activities
Biking: 15 to 35 miles per ride, easy to moderate terrain.
Hiking: 1 to 4 miles, easy to moderate terrain.
Discovery: Few attractions stir the emotions of visitors the way Mount Rushmore does. Since its
completion in 1941, it has joined the Statue of Liberty and the Stars & Stripes as one of America's
most inspiring symbols of democracy. Can you imagine climbing 506 stairs to go to work on “The
Heads” everyday? Did you know that Thomas Jefferson’s face was supposed to be carved on the
other side of George Washington? Can you believe that no one died during the carving of Mount
Rushmore even though 90% of the mountain was carved using dynamite? Discover for yourself the
legacy of Korczak Ziolkowski in his work on the Crazy Horse Memorial and the controversy that
surrounds this masterpiece. Follow the route of the 1890 Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad
on the Mickelson Trail, keeping an eye out for wild turkeys along the way. Dive into the histories of
Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, Jack McCall, and Seth Bullock in the Old West historic town of
Deadwood. Visit a herd of the friendly wild begging burros in South Dakota’s first and largest state
park, Custer State Park. Come see all there is to do in the Mount Rushmore State.
Austin Adventures guides are experienced facilitators and regional experts. They take the time to
explain the local history and daily sightseeing and route options. Each route has been carefully
planned to include options to please each traveler’s interests. Austin Adventures guides are available to
help you select the distance that’s right for you and to offer advice and assistance as you desire.
 
Meals
The hallmark of an Austin Adventures vacation is our exceptional dining. All meals: breakfasts, lunches,
snacks, dinners, refreshments and receptions – except one dinner on your own - are included.
Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
 
Distinctive Accommodations
 
Night 1: Franklin Hotel
The Historic Franklin Hotel has been greeting guests of distinction for well over a century. Explore
one of Deadwood’s true historical treasures. Stay in one of the Black Hills’ most enduring symbols of
an era fueled by gold, grit and guns. Services offered: Wifi, Adjoining Rooms, TV, Hairdryers
 
Nights 2 to 4: Blue Belle Lodge
Blue Bell Lodge is as comfortable as a pair of old blue jeans. This hideaway retreat with a guest
ranch flavor offers a Western experience that's sure to charm the boots right off 'ya!
Services offered: Wifi, Laundry, TV, Hairdryers
 
Night 5: Red Rock River Resort & Spa
The unique sandstone architecture dates from 1891. Your room offers glimpses of that time with its
high ceilings and deep windowsills. Relaxing décor, luxurious bedding, complete with down
comforter and feather/down pillows, and modern conveniences ensure your privacy and comfort.
Services offered: Wifi, TV, Hairdryers