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Black Elk Peak

280 Reviews
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Black Elk Peak

280 Reviews
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Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills Tour from Rapid City
Historical & Heritage Tours

Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills Tour from Rapid City

198 reviews
Visit Mount Rushmore with a pro on this guided tour to the national monument from Rapid City. Not only does this tour let you skip the hairpin turns and packed parking lot leading to your visit, but you also get to learn the history of the iconic site from your guide. After, continue exploring Black Hills sights including the Crazy Horse Monument, Iron Mountain Road, Sylvan Lake, and more.
$145.57 per adult
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Derissa M wrote a review Oct 14
6 contributions
+1
I’m not a hiker by any means - I have super weak ankles and terrible knees, let’s start with that. However, this 7 mile hike was worth it! We started at about 0900, with plenty of parking spots in the Sylvan park day area. We took trail 9 originating from Sylvan Lake up - beautiful, gradual incline. There were many moments where we had to stop and just marvel at the beauty. The hike is rated moderate (strenuous in the Custer national park guide we got when we paid for our pass) in that I think it’s a bit of a longer hike with a little bit more incline for an average person like me who frequents the gym as often as there are full moons. It took my husband & I with our hound dog close to about 2 hours to climb up and that’s with plenty of water breaks & photos. Pace yourself for that final ascent because it’s a bit harder compared to the rest of the #9 trail. Prior to going on this hike, I did some research & read that the most common route is #9 up and #4 down. Ironically enough, for me, it was WAY harder going down than up for me but that’s because of the state of my ankles and knees to begin with. NOTE: maybe it was fatigue or something, but we were sure that there was no #4 arrow when you come to face an arrow pointing to the cathedral spires and another pointing to Little Devil’s Tower. From the reviews I read, some people have by mistakenly taken a detour up to Little Devil’s tower...we in contrast took a detour by mistakenly to the cathedral spires. If it weren’t for some helpful people we encountered, I think we would’ve been far lost. We lost about 30-45 minutes between descending down to the spires & then having to be rerouted back up (which was a climb when you’re about 4 hours into hiking). Trail #4 also cuts through a parking lot and then there’s still a bit to go before you reach back to the Sylvan Lake parking lot. All in all, we took about shy of 6 hours - 30 minutes getting lost in the spires & about 45 minutes spent enjoying the watchtower & lunch up there.
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Date of experience: October 2020
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Christopher P wrote a review Sep 2020
Jefferson City, Missouri181 contributions69 helpful votes
As other reviews mention, this is the "flagship" hike in Custer State Park. There are several trail options to get to the peak which is the highest point west of the Rockies and east of the Pyrenees. Fair warning, the last bit of the trail up to the fire tower was closed for maintenance when we were there. We knew that going in, and it was still a terrific hike. The standard route seems to be Trail #9 which leaves from the Sylvan Lake parking lot. We opted instead to go up Trail #4, which leaves from the opposite side of the same lot. This trail is slightly longer but breaks up the ascent a bit more so there's more spots to catch your breath between climbs. It also offers spectacular views of Little Devils Tower, Cathedral Spires, and the back side of Mt. Rushmore. The trail meets up with #9 just below the peak and we took that trail back. It works out to be around a 6.5 mile loop. There are other routes you could take as well as some back-country camping options. You can get a pretty good trail map at the park if you don't already have one. If you're coming to the area to hike, Black Elk Peak should be at the top of your list. Trails #4 and #9 do get a bit crowded, so get out there early!
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Date of experience: September 2020
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TravelingSoccerLoon wrote a review Sep 2020
Saint Paul, Minnesota673 contributions279 helpful votes
This is a long hike, 8 miles round trip and is moderately strenuous because of the distance and ascent. However, it is well worth the effort. You climb to the highest point in the US east of the Rockies and from the summit, the view is spectacular. The quickest way to the summit is Trail #9 which leaves from Sylvan Lake. However, I chose to begin from the Little Devil's Trailhead which is along Trail #4. It makes for a longer hike but I was able to include a visit to the top of Little Devil's Tower after some challenging but fun rock scrambling. This trail option also passes by Cathedral Spires. Once at the top, you can get spectacular views from the Lookout Station or walk out and find your own spot on the rocky summit. There is some great hikes in Custer State Park but this was definitely the highlight. I would start early in the morning as this trail did get busy as the day progressed. Bring lots of water and a light jacket as it is quite cold at the summit.
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Date of experience: August 2020
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Brandon B wrote a review Aug 2020
Cincinnati, Ohio52 contributions3 helpful votes
+1
I read a lot of reviews before going on the hike. I rode my bike from the KOA campground near Mt Rushmore to the Palmer Creek trail head. Easy ride of 1.3 miles. You could drive there but there are some one-way sections where there is a low clearance bridge. Started the Lost Cabin trail #2 at 9 am and reached the peak at almost noon. I’m in my early 50’s and in good shape. As soon as the Lost Cabin Trail merged with the main trail #9 that originated at Sylvan Lake, the whole world emerged. There are narrow sections of the Lost Cabin trail with under brush on either side. I wore shorts and wondered if I would get poison ivy or sumac. Nope. From the peak I could see the KOA campground and the trail head. Beautiful! Descending, I continued on the circular route on the Black Elk North Trail #9. All civilization “vanished” as soon as I started the descent. Terrific vistas! See pictures. I could see the backside of Mt. Rushmore. Only ran into two horseback riders. Then took trail #8 and back to the Lost Cabin Trail. Descent took me 4 hours. Trail signs well marked. Take a map anyway. Or, there is a colored map posted at the trail head. Take a picture of it. Warning, your phone batteries will drain from taking pictures. Make sure it’s fully charged when you start.
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Date of experience: July 2020
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Julianne wrote a review Jul 2020
3 contributions1 helpful vote
Expect a 2-3 hour hike from Lake Sylvan. Take LOTS of water. Plenty of sunscreen. And take breaks often. Once you are at the top, You have the most beautiful views! But remember, When they say you're almost there, your not really there until your start climbing the stairs.
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Date of experience: July 2020
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