48 Hours in the Badlands and Black Hills

Hit the best of the South Dakota parks with these top spots.
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Visit Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Drive the Badlands Loop Road from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to the West Entrance, a 22-mile stretch that includes amazing wildlife and dramatic overlooks. More about Badlands National Park.

Stop at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Minuteman Launch Control Center at the Missile Site in South Dakota.

Minuteman Launch Control Center at the Missile Site in South Dakota.

Discover how weapons of mass destruction sat in the prairie ready to launch during the Cold War. Visit the visitor center before touring Launch Facility (Missile Silo) Delta-09 or make advanced reservations to tour Launch Control Facility Delta-01. More about Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

Stop at Wall Drug

Don't leave Wall Drug before you take a selfie on the jackalope.

Take a selfie on the jackalope in Wall Drug's backyard.

Located close to the west entrance of Badlands National Park sits the legendary Wall Drug. Stop for burgers, a photo of its famed Jackalope statue and free ice water. Read the backstory.

Take a Dip or Ride the Rails

The 1880 Train in Hill City, SD.

The 1880 Train in Hill City, SD. 

Soak in the hot springs or slip down the water slides at Evans Plunge in Hot Springs. If the only steam you want to experience is via train, consider riding The 1880 Train that runs between Hill City and Keystone.

See Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial

See the world’s largest monument carving that tells a very different history than Mount Rushmore. Take time to watch the video and roam the museum to learn the history of Ogalala chief Crazy Horse and the construction of the monument.

Go Down Under

Underground at Jewel Cave National Monument

Underground at Jewel Cave National Monument

Head to Wind Cave National Park or Jewel Cave National Monument for a rare glimpse deep into the Earth. On your tour, you’ll see incredible mineral formations and learn interesting cave trivia. 

Wildlife Show at Custer State Park

Bison herd in Custer State Park in South Dakota

Bison herd in Custer State Park

Drive the scenic Needles Highway, a 14-mile stretch of sharp turns and granite formations. Watch herds of buffalo roam this park in late afternoon. Then spend the evening at the park’s Black Hills Playhouse where you can watch a performance. More about Custer.

Wild West Reenactment in Deadwood

Gunfight re-enactment in Deadwood, S.D. Courtesy photo

Gunfight re-enactment

Explore the namesake for the TV series Deadwood when you visit this historic town. Don’t miss the Main Street Shootout that happens three times a day (2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.) Monday through Saturday during the summer season. More about Deadwood.

Sunset at Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore

Four U.S. presidents carved into the side of Mount Rushmore

Get a unique view of Mount Rushmore during the memorial’s evening program in the outdoor amphitheater. Listen to a park ranger speak before watching the film Freedom: America’s Lasting Legacy. Then turn your eyes upward to see the lighting of the memorial.  

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