Serving as the Midwest’s gateway to outdoor adventure, this South Dakota city is also regarded as a hub of arts and culture.
Located in southwestern South Dakota, Rapid City is a popular destination because of its close proximity to several famous landmarks. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is only 25 miles (40 kilometers) away, Crazy Horse Memorial 35 miles (55 kilometers) and Badlands National Park 60 miles (95 kilometers). Black Hills National Forest is nearby as well. These outdoor destinations are all accessible day trips.
The city and surrounding area are laced with walking and hiking trails. Cyclists travel from across the country to bike along Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway and Needles Highway. Iron Mountain Road, which stretches between Rapid City and Mount Rushmore, is widely regarded as one of the state’s best scenic drives. Enjoy other popular activities including golf, rock climbing, horseback riding and fishing.
Treat your family to a thrilling experience at Reptile Gardens, a park where children can pet tortoises, watch a snake show or stroll through the Sky Dome. Next, step back in time at Dinosaur Park, where you can learn about archaeology and climb atop some of the center’s massive dinosaur statues.
Originally called “Hay Camp," Rapid City was a resting spot for mid-1800s explorers headed to the Black Hills in search of gold. Although the city is now a comfortably modern destination, vestiges of its “Wild West” past remain in its historical downtown. Learn about the city’s past at the Journey Museum, which is filled with interactive exhibits everyone will enjoy.
Main Street Square, the heart of Rapid City, features year-round events ranging from free concerts to ice skating. After visiting the area’s galleries, shops and breweries, stroll down Art Alley, a nationally renowned public art space. Pose next to your favorite president in the City of Presidents community artwork, life-size bronze statues scattered throughout downtown.
Rapid City’s downtown is compact so it’s easy to walk between attractions in the area. City View Trolley is another way to get around, offering an old-time ride to the area’s top sites. Domestic flights arrive and depart daily from Rapid City Regional Airport. Interstate 90 runs alongside the city, making it easily accessible if you are traveling by car.