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Trip List by ajcolorado

Inexpensive Family Weekend to the Black Hills of South Dakota

Jun 3, 2006  We travel through this wonderful area almost every summer on the way to the family farm.
4.5 of 5 stars based on 4 votes

Your family can pack in a ton of fun in this beautiful area with out spending a ton of cash.

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Hill City, Keystone, Rapid City, Custer, South Dakota
  • Category: Perfect weekend
  • Traveler type: Sightseeing, Active/Outdoors
  • Appeals to: Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Students, Budget travelers, Active/adventure, Tourists
  • Seasons: Summer
  • 1. Palmer Gulch / Mt. Rushmore KOA Kampground
    The Lodge at Palmer Gulch, Hill City, South Dakota

    The Kamper Kabins are a fun and inexpensive way to stay in the heart of the Black Hills. The one room Kabins sleep up to 5 and the 2 room Kabins can sleep 6. This great campground has 2 pools, live entertainment, and you can rent bikes or paddleboats for lots of fun without even leaving the campground. Bring your own bedding. Each campsite has its own fire pit with a grate but you can also use the community kitchen with stoves and running water. The morning All-You-Can-Eat Pancake breakfast is a steal at only $2.00 per person, sausage etc. costs extra. There is a discount on the Kabins for active duty military personel.

  • 2. Mt. Rushmore National Monument
    Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota

    No visit to the Black Hills is complete without a stop to Mt. Rushmore but I recommend that you plan to go twice - once during the day and once in the evening (summer months only) for the Sculpture Lighting each night at 9 p.m. Take some time to tour the visitor center and walk to the Sculptor's Studio and other area. This park has a "Junior Ranger" program for a small fee. Children complete a booklet using information at the various areas at Mt. Rushmore to earn a plastic ranger badge. The booklet helps keep the kids engaged and is useful to point adults to areas of the monument that they might otherwise overlook. The evening program has a short Ranger talk, a film about each of the four presidents, playing of the National Anthem, and the lighting of the Sculpture. You can often see mountain goats at the monument, which is always a delight. The only cost for the monument is an $8 parking fee that is good for one year. The cafeteria is reasonably priced and has several entree choices.

  • 3. Storybook Island
    Storybook Island, Rapid City, South Dakota

    This wonderful park is sure to delight small children with its nursery rhyme themed playground equipment and play areas. Bring the camera because this place is full of great photo opportunities. The park is free although you can leave a donation towards its upkeep. There is a small fee to ride the train that runs through the park and concessions are available.

  • 4. Museum of Geology
    Museum of Geology, Rapid City, South Dakota

    This Free Museum is found on the Campus of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City. It is quiet and quaint in a stereotypical museum sort of way. It's a great spot to head to if the afternoon gets unbearably hot or you encounter rain. We usually hit the highlights: the dinosaur bones and the minerals that fluoresce under ultraviolet light. My children were surprisingly interested in the crystals on display. Cost: Free.

  • 5. Stavkirke Chapel / Chapel in the Hills
    Chapel in the Hills, Rapid City, South Dakota

    This is another interesting short stop, especially if you are of a Scandinavian background. The chapel is a replica of the Borgund Stave Church in Norway. At 800+ years, the Stave Churches are the oldest wooden structures still in existance in the world today. Kids will be intriqued by the carved dragon heads and the grass-roofed welcome center. Cost: Free.

  • 6. Jewel Cave National Monument
    Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer, South Dakota

    The Black Hills area is full of caves and caverns. Jewel Cave National Monument, in Custer, is close and reasonably priced - only $4.00 for ages 16 and over, free for ages $15 and under. This allows people to view one large room of the cave (15 stairs). Lantern Tours (must be at least 6 years old) and scenic tours are also available for an additional $8.00 per person.

  • 7. The Journey Museum
    Journey Museum, Rapid City, South Dakota

    This relatively new museum takes you on a journey of the Black Hills area, from its formation to the time of the dinosaurs, to the Native Americans and on to the Western frontier. The museum is free for kids 10 an dunder. Students (11 - 17) are $5 each and Adults are $7. Click on "Coupons" on the museum's home page for a printable coupon saving $1 on a regular admission.

  • 8. Needles Highway
    Needles Highway, South Dakota, United States

    This scenic road has amazing rock formations and tunnels. Parking areas allow you to pull over and burn off extra energy and children will be intriqued by the sparkling Mica - or Fools Gold - that is found in the rocks.

  • 9. Wildlife Loop Road
    Wildlife Loop Road, Custer, South Dakota

    The 18 mile Wildlife Loop in Custer State park is a great opportunity to see bison, burros and other animals. A 7-day temporary permit for Custer State park is only $12 per vehicle.

  • 10. Iron Mountain Road
    Iron Mountain Road, Custer, South Dakota

    Taking your kids on all three scenic drives in Black Hills area might cause a revolt but choosing one or two can be interesting and fun. The Iron Mountain Road features circular "Pigtail" bridges and has three tunnels. Mt. Rushmore is also visable in the distance.

  • 11. Alpine Inn
    Alpine Inn, Hill City, South Dakota

    Nearby Hill City is home to the Alpine Inn, a restaunt gets mixed reviews but there is no denying that $7.95 for a 6oz Filet Mignon dinner, or $9.95 for the 9 oz. dinner are great prices. The meal comes with a baked potato, texas toast and a wedge of lettuce. Drinks and dessert are extra. But if you don't like filet mignon, don't come...it is all they serve for dinner. Lunch features a german menu. They're closed on Sunday.