The Top 10 Things To Do Near Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore is an icon in and of itself, but if you’re already in Black Hills, South Dakota, trust us, there’s a lot more you could be doing! Don’t believe us? 

Keep reading for the top 10 things to do near Mt. Rushmore! This is the guide you’ll want to keep in your back pocket!

1. See Wildlife At Custer State Park

If you want to see wildlife, scenic views, and absorb some history, Custer State Park is the right place! There’s an amazing array of wildlife here. In fact, it was named as one of the World’s Top Ten Wildlife Destinations. 

Located only 15 miles from the city of Custer, and a short 40-minute drive from Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park is the perfect stop after seeing one of our country’s most iconic treasures! Plan ahead, because there is a temporary license of $20 per vehicle. 

Custer State Park is open year-round, 24 hours per day, and is a great place for the whole family to enjoy. 

2. Relax At Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake is actually located inside of Custer State Park, but since the park is 71,000 acres, it may be difficult to find if you’re not looking for it. But if you are looking for it, Sylvan Lake is a truly stunning lake that features places to picnic, rock climb, swim, hike, and even boats that you can rent! 

If you wanted to, you could easily spend a whole day exploring the beauty that is Sylvan Lake. If you have a valid South Dakota fishing license, you can even catch a few fish for lunch or dinner here! 

Why not kick back, relax, and enjoy the stunning views that Sylvan Lake has to offer in Black Hills?

3. Go Underground At Jewel Cave National Monument

Want to get away? How about going underground? Beneath the Black Hills is the fascinating world of Jewel Cave

There are over 202 miles of passageways, making it one of the longest caves in the entire world! You’ll find an extensive amount of wildlife and plants that can’t be seen above ground, making it a true jewel of the National Park Service. 

The best (and only) way to experience Jewel Cave is by taking a guided tour. You must have a ticket to enter the cave. 

Once underground, you can see large rooms filled with boulders, crawlways, and dark fissures that lead to more of the unknown. If you’re adventurous, Jewel Cave Monument may be right for you!

4. Experience The Black Hills National Forest

If you love the outdoors, Black Hills National Forest is going to feel like home. There are 1.2 million acres of forested hills and mountains. 

This incredible national forest is approximately 110 miles long and 70 miles wide. The Forest is multi-use for activities like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and many more! 

You’ll also see canyons, gulches, streams, and beautiful deep blue lakes. It’s no wonder why millions of visitors come to see the Black Hills National Forest every year!

5. Ride The 1880 Train

If you want to get off your feet but still see the beauty that is in the Black Hills, the 1880 Train is a wonderful idea! This steam railroad has been operating since 1957. 

Although you are not technically riding on a historically accurate steam locomotive from 1880, it’s quite close! One of the things that makes the 1880 train so unique is you get to experience a two-hour, narrated tour. 

This 20-mile round trip between Hill City and Key Stone provides pangers with the original route of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad laid down in the late 1880s. Along the way, you’ll see plenty of beautiful views and scenery and have a grand old time! 

If you’re lucky, you may even see some wild turkeys, woodchucks, and even a mallard duck or two! Seating is assigned and it is recommended to buy your tickets at least a week in advance as riding on the 1880 train is quite popular!

6. Visit The Termesphere Gallery & Museum

For those that love art, it’s a must that you stop at the Termesphere Gallery & Museum in Spearfish. A termesphere is an optical illusion using a six-point perspective. 

With this unique perspective, the art you view reveals a total view of 360 degrees in all directions. As it’s quite difficult to explain, you’re much better off going to the Termesphere Gallery & Museum to see these incredible pieces of art for yourself!

7. Cool Off At Cascade Falls, Hot Springs

There’s a lot of exploring to do on this list! If you’re getting weary, rest and instead check out Cascade Falls in Hot Springs. Cascade Falls is a naturally occurring swimming hole. 

The water is clean and clear and a warm, 67 degrees thanks to six artesian springs that feed into Cascade Creek, which is about two miles upstream of Cascade Springs. There’s also rare vegetation and a quiet waterfall. 

Cascade Falls is the only part of Cascade Creek recommended for swimming, since the water isn’t too fast and there are various depths. People have been swimming in this naturally occurring swimming hole for over a hundred years! 

If you get hungry afterwards, Cascade Falls Picnic Grounds is only 8 miles south of Hot Springs on Highway 71. It features a parking lot, picnic area, and restrooms.

8. Eat At The Purple Pie Place

If you love homemade pie (and really, who doesn’t), the Purple Pie Place in Custer needs to be on your itinerary. Serving up homemade pies every day, you can buy a slice of pie, or if you’re feeling ambitious, order a whole one! 

Oh, did we mention they have a food menu too? Come hungry, because they are serving up some great food like beef paninis, bbq pork sandwiches, a purple cow, and some milkshakes! 

What else are you going to wash down that tasty pie with? You can even order your food online, making this quick and easy!

9. Check Out Spokane, A Black Hills Ghost Town

There’s just no way you can travel around Black Hills and not find a ghost town to check out. So why not take a look around Spokane, a legendary Black Hills ghost town

Founded in 1890, Spokane was all about mining: gold, silver, zinc, mica, graphite, and copper. Spokane is only 16 miles from Custer. In 1927, the town hit its peak, with a total of $144,742 in profits, which allowed them to fund and build the school building. 

The bones of this building can still be found! But by 1940, the town was pretty much abandoned. 

What makes Spokane so interesting are the buildings and homes falling apart. If you love photography, you can get some great shots in this ghost town! 

Word of caution: this is a ghost town that’s built around an abandoned mine, so watch your step and don’t try to climb on any existing structures to be safe.

10. Taste The Wine At Prairie Berry Winery

The last stop on our guide is the Prairie Berry Winery. If you love wine, this is the winery and tasting room for you. These wines have won over 1,000 international awards! 

During your visit, you can enjoy five free tastes. Their most popular wine is the Red Ass Rhubarb. Yes, you read that correctly, it is a rhubarb wine. 

Tastings are limited to a six-person limit, and children do count towards that. Plan accordingly when visiting Prairie Berry Winery!

After all this exploring, you’re going to be dead tired! Rest your aching feet at Crooked Creek Resort & RV Park in Hill City, South Dakota! Contact us now to book your stay this summer!

Contact Us

Larsson's Crooked Creek Resort
24184 US 385
Hill City, SD 57745

Use Latitude and Longitude for GPS:
LAT:43.89956 | LON:103.59240