For ‘Great Faces, Great Places’…it has to be South Dakota! We’ll visit all the must-see attractions such as Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Deadwood, Wall Drug, and even cross Wyoming to gaze in awe at Devils Tower. All the while we discover the ‘backroads’ stops that make our tours so memorable. From a working cattle ranch to a vegetable farmer in the Black Hills, to the famed Custer State park and more, the “Mount Rushmore State” awaits.
- Visit a working cattle ranch & vegetable farmer
- Attend a patriotic evening lighting show at Mount Rushmore
- See three units of the National Park Service: Badlands, Devils Tower, and Mount Rushmore
- Experience a chuckwagon supper and morning Jeep Safari in legendary Custer State Park
DAY 1—WELCOME TO SOUTH DAKOTA!
Enjoy meeting your fellow travelers and Discoveries Director at a welcome dinner in Rapid City, the gateway to South Dakota’s Black Hills and Badlands region. D
DAY 2—WALL DRUG/PRAIRIE DOGS/BADLANDS
The morning begins with a stop at Wall Drug, voted one of America’s most popular roadside attractions. What started as a humble pharmacy in 1931 by Ted & Dorothy Hustead has transformed into an amazing shopping mall full of any souvenir imaginable. If you can believe it, the store all started in 1936 with “Free Ice Water” signs to help drum up some business. We start our exploration of Wall Drug with their famous homemade donuts and coffee before free time to explore the complex. Next, we’re off to feed the “pipsqueaks” of the Prairie at the Badlands Ranch Store. Then, get your camera ready as we spend the rest of the day in South Dakota’s iconic Badlands National Park. The striking geological deposits seem to change color almost every minute in the shifting afternoon sun. Here we’ll enjoy lunch in the park and stop at multiple scenic overlooks for photo opportunities before returning for a second night in Rapid City. B, L
DAY 3—BEAR BUTTE GARDENS/VORE BUFFALO JUMP/FREE TIME SPEARFISH
Today, we are hosted by Rick and Michelle Grosek, owners of a 120- acre homestead named Bear Butte Gardens. Learn what it takes to grow many kinds of vegetables as well as the ins-and-outs of raising lamb and chicken in the dry Black Hills climate. Our taste buds will savor their farm-to-table lunch featuring their latest harvest and fresh meats. This afternoon, head to Vore Buffalo Jump to meet with archaeologists and learn about how the pit was used from 1500 AD to 1800 AD by Native American hunters to disable bison for food. This evening is yours to explore downtown Spearfish. B, L
DAY 4—DEVILS TOWER/DIAMOND 7 BAR RANCH/CENTER OF THE NATION
We start our day at Devils Tower, America’s first National Monument. This astounding geographic feature towers over 1,000 feet above the Belle Fourche River, creating one of the most striking naturally formed landscapes in the country. Here we will enjoy the views from the park visitor center and even take a short hike on one of the trails. From there, we head to Diamond 7 Bar Ranch located off the beaten path. We will meet with owner Beth Reilly and hear her stories of growing up on the ranch. We cap off our day at the literal heart of the nation, Belle Fourche, to view the Center of the Nation monument which marks the geographical center of the United States. B, L
DAY 5—BLACK HILLS/CRAZY HORSE/CHUCK WAGON SUPPER
This morning we visit the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery, one of the oldest operating hatcheries in the country. Established in 1896, we’ll learn from one of the biologists on how their hatchery manages the trout population in South Dakota and surrounding states. You’ll be mesmerized with their underwater fish viewing area! After a scenic drive through the spectacular Black Hills National Forest and around the Pactola Reservoir, we arrive at Crazy Horse Memorial. The on-site Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Educational & Cultural Center also provide interesting regional insights for our group. The day wraps up at Custer State Park with an old-fashioned hayride. Take in the scenery on a 45-minute wildlife tour to a mountain canyon for our chuckwagon feast where each guest receives a souvenir cowboy hat and bandanna to get into the western spirit. B, L, D
DAY 6—JEEP SAFARI/MOUNT RUSHMORE NIGHT LIGHTING
This morning you may spot buffalo, prong-horn antelope, donkeys, prairie dogs and more on our wildlife Jeep Safari through Custer State Park. Along the way, guides will share historical and educational facts about the park and wildlife. And, of course, our visit to South Dakota wouldn’t be complete without time at one the nation’s most famous landmarks, Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This evening we’ll also attend the ‘must experience’ patriotic evening lighting show conducted by the National Park Service. (Our September 24th departure will experience the Buffalo Roundup in Custer State Park this morning in lieu of the Jeep Safari.) B, L
DAY 7—NEEDLES HIGHWAY/FAREWELL
After a breakfast, we head back into Custer State Park to hop aboard a Jeep Tour of the Needles Highway. Sit back and enjoy this spectacular drive through the rugged granite mountains, beautiful meadows surrounded by aspen and birch trees, and the shaded forests filled with spruce and pine trees. We then head back to the State Game Lodge to enjoy a delicious buffet lunch before heading home, with memories of travels through the “Land and Infinite Variety.” B, L
Nights 1-2: The Rushmore Hotel & Suites, Rapid City
Nights 3-4: Best Western Black Hills Lodge, Spearfish
Nights 5-6: Holiday Inn Express, Custer
Aug 20-26, 2023
Sep 24-30, 2023*
*Buffalo Roundup Departure
Price Per Person:
Pre/Post Tour Hotel:
Rapid City, SD
Free airport shuttle or hotel parking
Welcome Dinner and meals as indicated (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Fees and tips for included attractions and meals
Luggage handling of one suitcase per person at hotels
Free bottled water on coach
24-hour emergency call service
Our Welcome Dinner on Day 1 is at our hotel, The Rushmore Hotel and Suites, starting at 6:30pm. We recommend scheduling your flight to arrive by 4:00pm.
Schedule your flight home to depart Rapid City Regional Airport any time after 3:30pm on Day 7.
Airport Transportation / Vehicle Parking
Our starting hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service to/from the Rapid City Regional Airport. If you are driving to the starting location, they also offer complimentary parking for the duration of the tour.
Moderate walking is required to fully enjoy this tour. Some walking will also be on uneven paths. While walking canes are allowed, we are unable to accommodate travelers using other mobility devices, including walkers and wheelchairs.
August– high of 84°, low of 60°
September – high of 74°, low of 51°
Each hotel has a hair dryer, iron, ironing boards, and a coffee maker. Rushmore Hotel in Rapid City also offers a fitness room, free Wi-Fi & restaurant on property. The Black Hills Lodge also offers free Wi-Fi and an outdoor pool. The Holiday Inn Express in Custer offers an indoor pool, fitness center and free Wi-Fi.
A total of three mailings are sent to assist you in preparing for your tour, including information sent upon receipt of your reservation.
Dress on tour is casual.
Travel Protection Available?
Yes, see CountryTravelDiscoveries.com/TravelProtectionPlan.