Growing up in South Dakota and frequenting Rapid City, as it's the largest and closet city to the Pine Ridge, we're no strangers to tourists on and off the reservation. We love taking an all day ride through the Black Hills, “the Hills” as locals call them, just as much as the next person. There's scenic highways, lakes and rivers to swim in, events and culture to witness, as well as the many hiking and climbing trails. I asked my friends on Facebook and Twitter to tell me their favorite summer spots and activities to do in and around Rapid City, so I picked a few and added a few of my personal must see's, as well. 1. Hinhan Kaga (Harney Peak) and Sylvan Lake Formerly Harney Peak, Hinhan Kaga (“Owl Maker” or “Making of Owls” in Lakota) is definitely a must see, about 30 minutes out of Rapid City. I wouldn't hike unless I had an afternoon to spare and a good pair of hiking boots, but you can also cool off and take in the scenery at the base, Sylvan Lake, with smaller rock formations to climb and a small beach.
2. Badlands National Park Also one of the more widely known places, the Badlands are great to spend the day in, as well. You can go for short hikes, take a tour, cruise one of the loops or just hang out.
3. Summer Nights and Downtown Rapid City If you prefer more populated areas and the social scene, downtown in Rapid City is the perfect place for you. There's plenty of museums, historic buildings, shopping and Art Alley. Summer Nights take place every Thursday night until August 27th, from 6-9 in the evening with live music, events and more. There's also dancing fountains for the kids or for the big kid in you to splash around in!
4. Devil's Bathtub Located in Spearfish Canyon, it's a beautiful scenic drive and more hiking, about a half mile to the falls, where you can take a picnic, spend the day and swim in the naturally formed tubs if the water levels are high enough. – Reanna G.
5. NO MORE HIKING As you can tell, there's no short on trails and gorgeous scenery to see in the Black Hills, so here's a few more selections that are worth checking out by category. AMUSEMENT The Ranch – Go karts, rock wall, bumper boats and mini golf Cosmos Mystery Area – gravity defying buildings and demonstrations Rushmore Tramway – zipline, alpine slide, chair lift and more SIGHT SEEING Crazy Horse Monument – a mountain carving of one of our Chiefs, who ironically enough, was never photographed in his lifetime Mount Rushmore – Not a very popular attraction with the local natives, as you can imagine, but for travel information… Why not? Needles Highway – 14 miles of granite spires and tunnels. – Eunice T. SWIMMING/WATER SPORTS Pactola Lake/Jenney Gulch – Beautiful scenery, boat rentals, scuba diving, cliff diving and more. – Michael W. Cascade Falls – A series of tubs that from naturally hot springs, not too far from the highway. Watiki Indoor Water Park – A giant bowl waterslide. Need I say more? CULTURE POWWOWS – A calendar of all the local powwows, of course! I hope you enjoyed this post and your trip to the Black Hills. You can find more information on lodging and attractions at Visit Rapid City. If you see me out and about, mostly with my giant camera, please say hello! Tara Rose Weston is an Oglala Lakota photographer and lifestyle blogger who grew up and resides on the Pine Ridge Reservation. You can keep up with her and see her adventures on Instagram (@fromseptember).
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