Kylee of Passports and Preemies is sharing her South Dakota street journey itinerary!
Some of the underrated states in America, South Dakota is insanely lovely, reasonably priced, and straightforward to street journey by way of. With the highlights of the state being the Black Hills mountain vary and the Badlands Nationwide Park, you’ll begin and finish this street journey in Speedy Metropolis.
As you journey by way of South Dakota in three days, count on to see an abundance of wildlife and have ample alternatives to tug over on the facet of the street to soak up scenic overlooks. On this journey count on to have the ability to hike, go to waterfalls, and study US historical past from historic monuments.
Alongside the best way, as you progress from small city to small city, there shall be alternatives to “glamp,” keep in a lodge, and even hire a comfortable log cabin.
Right here’s the final word 3-day South Dakota street journey itinerary!
The Greatest Time To Go
One of the best time to street journey by way of South Dakota is in the course of the spring, summer season, or fall. There’s plenty of outside actions so visiting from late spring to early fall is good.
I’d suggest avoiding this street journey within the winter as a result of a few of the most scenic highways are closed right now on account of snow.
My 3-Day Itinerary
- Day 1: Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway + Deadwood + Pactola Lake
- Day 2: Mount Rushmore + Needles Freeway + Black Elk Peak + Sylvan Lake
- Day 3: Cathedral Spires + Badlands Nationwide Park
One of the simplest ways to begin your South Dakota street journey by way of the Black Hills is by arriving in Speedy Metropolis, which has one of many principal airports within the state and is positioned simply east of Black Hills Nationwide Forest.
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway
Whenever you go away Speedy Metropolis you’ll be heading northwest to drive the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, Freeway 14A. This scenic drive takes you 22-miles by way of a few of the prettiest panorama in South Dakota, the place you’ll have loads of alternatives to tug over on the facet of the street to get out and discover.
Whereas driving alongside Spearfish Canyon be sure to cease at Bridal Veil Falls and Devils Bathtub if you happen to like fishing. At Devils Bathtub, with a sound South Dakota fishing license, you’ll be able to catch and launch trout.
In case you plan to go to these stops, be sure to convey water footwear—to entry Bridal Veil Falls you’ll have to cross the creek.
When you come to the tip of the drive there shall be a fork within the street. On the left, you’ll see the Latschstring Restaurant the place you’ll be able to cease for breakfast/lunch, or if you happen to head proper you’ll come to a boardwalk the place you may get out and examine Roughlock Falls.
Deadwood was based in 1876
When you’ve accomplished the Spearfish Canyon drive, head south to take a look at some of the historic cities in South Dakota, Deadwood. Deadwood is usually recognized for gaining fame when gold was found inflicting an inflow of individuals in the course of the gold rush.
Many well-known gunmen and Wild West figures like Wild Invoice Hickock and Calamity Jane got here to city, and each of those individuals are buried within the Mount Moriah Cemetery.
As you stroll by way of Major Road, don’t miss stopping in at Saloon No. 10, the place Wild Invoice Hickock was murdered. There are tons of artifacts and footage plastered on the partitions, supplying you with a vivid story of the colourful previous of the city.
In case you’re searching for someplace to eat, seize a desk on the outside patio of the steakhouse restaurant Stockade.
Earlier than sundown, make your method additional south to Pactola Lake, the biggest reservoir within the Black Hills.
There are free parking heaps out there across the lake and stairs that lead you all the way down to the place you’ll be able to veg on the seashore or sit at a picnic desk. I like to recommend coming with drinks or a small picnic as you watch the boats drive by and the sundown. You’re additionally in a position to get into the lake, so don’t overlook a showering go well with!
I like to recommend ending the evening in Keystone. There are a lot of various kinds of lodging choices in Keystone, you’ll be able to go for a small log cabin at Powder House. Or splurge on a luxurious tent at Under Canvas Mount Rushmore.
Earlier than exploring the primary sights of Keystone, replenish on a hearty breakfast on the Powder Home Lodge Restaurant.
When you’ve eaten, make your solution to the historic monument – Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore opens at 5 am and crowds start to assemble shut to eight am, so if you wish to see the world with fewer individuals round I like to recommend arriving round 7 am.
You can be required to pay $10 for parking exterior of the monument, however the entrance to the monument is free. When you’re inside be sure to stroll the 0.6-mile Presidential Path, which is able to take you across the park and get you up nearer to the monument.
(Observe: If you wish to go to the monument with out crowds, eat breakfast after visiting the monument and earlier than your subsequent cease).
After viewing Mount Rushmore hop on Freeway 87 – Needles Freeway. It’s some of the distinctive drives within the state stretching by way of Custer State Park for 14-miles.
It’s a slender freeway main you thru tunnels carved by way of mountains, with views of spire-like rocks. Please notice that this freeway is closed within the winter months.
Black Elk Peak
When you full the Needles Freeway drive, head south in direction of Sylvan Lake the place the Black Elk Peak trailhead is. Entrance into Sylvan Lake is $20 and your ticket is legitimate for as much as every week.
Black Elk Peak is the very best level in South Dakota and when you hike as much as Harney Peak Lookout, you’re on the very best peak east of the Rockies and west of the Pyrenees Mountains in Europe. The path is a loop path about 7-miles lengthy, with an elevation achieve of almost 1,500-feet.
After you’ve completed the hike and you make it back to Sylvan Lake, stay to enjoy the lake for the rest of the day. You may have heard of this lake before, or seen it in the movie National Treasure. Near the lake, there are bathrooms and even a small convenience store where you can get food and drinks.
At the lake itself, there are picnic tables available, paddleboards and kayaks to rent, and the ability to fish with a valid South Dakota fishing license. You’re also allowed to swim in the lake, weather permitting.
If you want to stay in the area you can spend the night at Sylvan Lake Lodge, or overnight in Hill City to experience more of the Black Hills. If you stay in Hill City check into a room at the Alpine Inn right on Main Street.
When in Hill City Make sure to check out Prairie Berry to taste the local South Dakota wine, and eat dinner at the Alpine Inn which is known for its expansive dessert menu.
Before leaving the Black Hills and heading 80+ miles east to the Badlands, make your way to Custer to eat breakfast at Baker’s Bakery & Café.
If you want to get out for some fresh air before driving to and around the Badlands, stop at the Cathedral Spires trailhead on Needles Highway.
Cathedral Spires is an easy, out and back, trail that is 1.5-miles with an elevation gain of 455-feet.
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park
Now head to the Badlands National Park. On your way, it’s common to see bison, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, and other wild animals. Please remember that these are wild animals for a reason and keep your distance.
The Badlands is a dramatic landscape of rock formations and canyons where you can hike or drive around admiring the beauty from your car.
To see all that the Badlands offers, drive the dirt road Sage Creek Rim Road. The drive will take you 1-2 hours depending on how often you stop, and there are many scenic lookout points along the way.
If you want to hike in the Badlands you have many options!
Some of the more popular trails include Fossil Exhibit Trail, Window Trail, and Castle Trail. If you do plan on hiking make sure to bring plenty of water! The area is quite a bit hotter than the Black Hills due to the lack of shade.
Once you’re done exploring the Badlands, drive the 60+ miles back west to Rapid City to head home.
If you have additional time to spend in South Dakota I’d recommend spending extra time in the Black Hills. Don’t miss the Crazy Horse Memorial, Wildlife Loop Road, and Jewel Cave.
If you’re looking to see more of South Dakota and are into kitsch, cheesy places make sure to check out Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota. And finally, don’t miss The Corn Palace in Mitchell.
South Dakota is truly one of the most unique areas in the United States. With historic, Wild West towns frozen in time, wildlife sightings, hiking, and scenic drives; visiting this state is well worth your time.
If you’re planning a visit and looking for more information on which towns to visit and why make sure to check out The Best Towns in South Dakota.