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Group Tour Itineraries
FIT Itinerary Samples
This is not a complete FIT (Foreign Independent Traveler) listing. Information included has been submitted by partners.
Northern Hills Tour
From Rapid City, travel west on Interstate 90 to Sturgis. Pass through beautiful Piedmont Valley. Several crystal caves decorate the area, and the valley is home to the Black Hills' only petrified forest. You'll also pass the "Arlington of the West," Black Hills National Cemetery.
Take a side trip a few miles north on Highway 79 and see the natural wonder of Bear Butte State Park. Bear Butte is a landmark that holds spiritual significance for the Lakota people. Many portions of the butte are open to hikers. Near Bear Butte, stop by the Fort Meade Museum and Old Post Cemetery.
Leave Sturgis, the town famous for its annual motorcycle rally, and travel on Boulder Canyon Road (US Highway 14A) to the old mining communities of Lead and Deadwood. Stop at Deadwood's Mount Moriah Cemetery, where Western legends Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried. In Deadwood, more than 80 gaming halls with slots, blackjack and poker, line Main Street. Visit the Black Hills Mining Museum in Lead or a presidential sculpture park near Lead.
When you depart the area, travel the Spearfish Canyon State and National Forest Scenic Byway. Beautiful waterfalls and colorful rock formations decorate this 20-mile drive. Follow the canyon road to Spearfish to experience this cultural and recreational community. Overnight in Spearfish or Rapid City.
Rapid City Circle Tour
Spend a day in Rapid City. The many attractions, activities and the city's location make it an ideal starting point for a Black Hills trip.
Start your Rapid City tour at the Stavkirke Chapel. The famous replica of the 850-year-old Borgund Church of Norway features intricate woodcarvings, unusual dragon heads and indigenous pegged construction. Next, it's on to The Journey Museum where you'll explore South Dakota history, beginning in the days of the dinosaur. The museum also showcases traditional and contemporary Native American artwork. Visit the Museum of Geology to view skeletons of giant prehistoric reptiles. Also make stops at the Dahl Arts Center, Dinosaur Park, Cleghorn Springs Fish Hatchery and Storybook Island. Overnight in Rapid City.
Mount Rushmore Tour
A visit to South Dakota wouldn't be complete without a stop at America's "Shrine of Democracy," Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Leave Rapid City on Mount Rushmore Road (US Highway 16) to Keystone. Shop the specialty stores in Keystone. Before leaving, tour a museum to learn more about the man who created Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum. Another option is a wax museum.
Follow US Highway 16A/244 to Mount Rushmore National Memorial for the viewing experience of a lifetime. The 60-foot granite faces of four U.S. presidents inspire awe. The popular Avenue of Flags, leading up to the viewing terrace, features the 56 flags of American states, territories, commonwealths and one district. For a close-up view of the faces, hike the half-mile trek to the base of the mountain. The Lincoln Borglum Museum explores the making of Mount Rushmore and the meaning behind America's most famous mountain. In the evening, take in the nightly program in an outdoor amphitheater. It consists of a high-tech film, patriotic music and a lighting ceremony. Overnight in Keystone.
Central Hills Tour
The Black Hills hold many wonders, both natural and manmade. From Rapid City, start your scenic journey on Iron Mountain Road (US Highways 16 and 16A) through Keystone. The road itself is an engineering feat. Highlights include the pigtail bridges, named for their unique shape, and narrow tunnels carved from the mountains. Hook up with Highway 87, the famous Needles Highway. This route is loaded with spectacular granite spires and features the Needle's Eye rock formation. (Be sure to check tunnel sizes beforehand.)
After this incredible drive, head south on Highway 385 to Crazy Horse Memorial. The world's largest mountain carving depicts the Lakota leader Crazy Horse and celebrates Native American culture. From Crazy Horse, travel south to Custer and west to Jewel Cave National Monument. Glittering calcite crystals give the cave, the second largest in the world, its name.
Hiking and mountain biking trails are found throughout this area. The 109-mile George S. Mickelson Trail (for hiking, biking and horseback riding) extends the length of the Black Hills. It offers a great outing for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. Rock climbing in the Needles area is another popular pastime. Outfitters are available. Overnight in Custer.
Ellsworth Air Force Base and Wall/Badlands Tour
Arrive at Ellsworth Air Force Base, east of Rapid City. Take an official tour of the base, which includes a stop at a Minuteman missile silo. Next, explore the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, located on base. You'll see bombers, fighters, helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft.
From Ellsworth, travel east on Interstate 90 to Wall for some shopping at a world-famous drug store. Follow Highway 240 south into the mysterious Badlands National Park. This striking, moonlike landscape has a history dating back to the prehistoric era. A variety of fossil remains from saber-toothed cats, ancient pigs, three-toed horses and other prehistoric mammals are buried within the rocks. Explore the park on seven developed hiking trails or backpack in the Sage Creek Wilderness Area. Guided horse-pack trips through this area are available. Overnight in Badlands National Park or Wall.
Southern Hills Tour
Start your day with a leisurely drive through Custer State Park. The park is home to 1,500 bison that roam freely over 71,000 acres (28,400 ha). Bison often stop traffic along the park's Wildlife Loop Road. They're joined by other critters such as antelope, deer, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and a band of begging burros.
Custer State Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Activities include Western trail rides and chuckwagon suppers, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, boating and fly-fishing.
After touring Custer State Park, head south to Wind Cave National Park. The park offers beautiful scenery, underground cave tours and a wildlife preserve. In nearby Hot Springs, visit The Mammoth Site, where the remains of 50 ancient mammoths are on display as they were uncovered. Overnight in Hot Springs.
Badlands and Native American Tour
Start your tour in Rapid City at The Journey Museum where you'll experience 2.5 billion years of history. The museum houses a colorful, hands-on exhibit of Native American artifacts and artwork. It's a great introduction to South Dakota's Lakota culture.
Next, visit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, east of the Black Hills. Be sure to stop at The Heritage Center and Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge. The Wounded Knee Massacre Site is located north and east of Pine Ridge. A single stone marker stands in remembrance of more than 250 Lakota people killed at the site. Your next destination is Badlands National Park. View the sharp spires and colorful rock formations created by years of erosion. Overnight in Badlands National Park.
Vicky Engelhaupt, Trade Sales Representative.