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National Parks | Travel Inspiration


Black Hills Map


The Black Hills of Western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming hold a unique natural beauty and a rich cultural history. Native Americans, prospectors, settlers and artists have been attracted to this area for centuries. Come discover all the area has to offer.

  • Walk in the Badlands and the barren beauty that they hold.
  • Visit the missile sites of the nuclear age and the cold war.
  • See bison, pronghorn, prairie dogs and more in their natural environments.
  • Spelunk in caves and experience their subterranean beauty.
  • Delve into the prehistoric age, and the fossil record.
  • Stand in awe of the sculptures of four of our greatest presidents.

Rapid City, South Dakota serves as a base for the majority of this journey, with plenty of lodging options that are easily accessible to the major national parks and attractions of this region.



Visit the once secret facilities where Air Force personnel controlled and maintained ten nuclear missiles, part of a force of 150 missiles located in South Dakota. Discover the Cold War events that shaped our lives and still remain through a tour of the control center at Delta-01. At the Delta-09 silo, view a nuclear missile which once carried a 1.2 megaton warhead.  Remember duck-and-cover drills, fallout shelters, Nixon’s trip to China, the Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky Chess Match, or the fall of the Berlin Wall?  Gain the Soviet perspective regarding Mutual Assured Destruction.  How many nuclear weapons are stockpiled throughout the world?  Are we safe?



Visitor Center

24545 Cottonwood Road

Philip, SD 57567



Open Year Round-hours:

Visitor Center     8AM to 4PM

Delta-01 LCC    Tour Only Basis 

Delta-09 Silo Winter      9AM to 3PM

Summer  9AM to 4PM

Tour Fee:  Presently Free

The park consists of three sites along Interstate 90. In addition, exhibits at the Visitor Center (exit 131) provide the historical backdrop for nuclear issues which are still relevant today.

Delta-09, this Minuteman Missile II silo site, is located ¼ mile south of I-90 at exit 116.


The Delta-01 Launch Control Center (ticket required) is located 1/4 mile north of I-90 at exit 127. Access to Delta-01 and Delta-09 requires a short distance of travel on dirt roads that can be rutted following rain or snow.


At Delta-09 a self-guided tour by cell phone relates the hidden tale of the Cold War Front fought on the Great Plains where a Minuteman II missile remains in its silo for public viewing at exit 116. The Delta-01 ranger guided tour offers an opportunity to observe first-hand the Launch Control Facility from which the Emergency War Order would be executed in the event of Nuclear War. Tickets are required for this tour, and must be picked up at the visitor center.

Minuteman Missile Delta-01
Minuteman Missile Delta-01

Insider Tips:

Gaze Armageddon in the face with a visit to the Delta-09 missile silo. The viewing enclosure over the silo allows for visitors to gaze directly down at a Minuteman II missile. Consider the meaning of 1.2 megatons of destructive power hidden in plain sight.


Ranger Tips:

Due to the limited space (six per tour) and high demand for Delta-01 tours, advance planning is often necessary to participate in this unique and well sought after experience. Tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis, the day of the tour at the visitor center. In the summer, it is best to arrive early in order to get tickets.

Minuteman Missile missile in silo

Fun Facts:

  • #1 The Minuteman II missile had a 1.2 megaton warhead or the equivalent of 1.2 million tons of TNT.  If that TNT were loaded into box cars, that train would be 360 miles long. That explosive power was squeezed into a 600 pound warhead.
  • #2  One Minuteman II missile had the equivalent destructive power as 60% of all the bombs dropped during World War II by both sides combined.
  • #3 If the Dakotas were a separate nation, it would have been the third largest nuclear power in the world at the height of the Cold War.

Have a Little extra time? Consider these additional sites:

South Dakota Air & Space Museum; Rapid City, SD


Ben Reifel Visitor Center
20695 South Dakota Highway 240
Interior, SD 57750

Ben Reifel Visitor Center (North Unit)
Open Year Round
Hours of Operation ‐ Mountain Time Zone
8 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Winter Hours)
8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (mid‐April to mid‐May)
8 a.m. - 7 p.m. (Summer Hours)
8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (early September to late October)

White River Visitor Center (South Unit)

Open seasonally, summer only

*Visitor Center closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day

Open daily, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., as staff is available. Visitor center is staffed by rangers who must also respond to emergencies and other events in the park. Please call ahead or check status at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.


Entrance Fees

  • Private: Non‐Commercial Vehicle; $15 ‐ Valid for 7 days
  • Individual ‐ hike, bicycle; $7 ‐ Valid for 7 days
  • Motorcycle; $10 ‐ Valid for 7 days 

Campground: Tent, RV, Electric Hook Ups ($20-$35 per night)


Trails: Short Hikes/Walks, Backcountry Hikes, Accessible Trail


Lodging: Cedar Pass Lodge, 20681 SD‐240, Interior, SD 57750, Reservations: 877-386-4383 

The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber‐toothed cat once roamed here.


The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed‐grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black‐footed ferrets live today.

The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber‐toothed cat once roamed here.

The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed‐grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black‐footed ferrets live today.


Ben Reifel Visitor Center (Park Information Center), Hwy 240 route through the park, Fossil Exhibit Trail, Notch Trail, Roberts Prairie Dog Town.




Exploring the South Unit

We encourage anyone interested in backcountry hiking or camping in the South Unit to notify a ranger

at the White River Visitor Center to ensure your safety and that you are not trespassing on private lands. Explorers must often cross private land to access the public land. Always obtain permission from landowners for vehicular or foot access before setting out for Cuny Table, Stronghold Table, and Palmer Creek. A list of landowners is available at the White River Visitor Center. Be prepared with alternative destinations if landowners do not grant permission to cross their property. Hikers in the South Unit must be experienced map readers. Plan on a minimum of two days to hike in and out of the remote Palmer Creek area.


The White River Visitor Center is open seasonally, to contact please call (605) 455‐2878.



Called "mako sica" or "land bad" by the local Lakota and "les mauvaises terres à traverser" or "bad lands to travel across" by the early French trappers, both descriptions invoke visions of a harsh and inhospitable landscape, where dangers lurk down every canyon. Despite the introduction of visitor services, overlooks, and a scenic road, the Badlands environment still remains a rugged, untamed, and remote country. While hiking, exploring, and traveling through the park, it is important to follow safety precautions and park regulations to enjoy a safe visit and prevent injuries.



Travel Information:  54 Miles, 1 Hour 20 Minutes Drive Time

26611 U.S. Highway 385

Hot Springs SD 57747-9430



Open Year Round (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s) No Park Entrance fee.


Open year round, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. year-around with extended hours in the spring, summer (8 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and fall.


Campground: Tent & RV. No electric hook ups or showers. Running water in the restrooms during summer months. Open all-year around. $18 per site/summer, $9.00 when the water is off.


Trails: 3 nature trails, backcountry hikes

Wind Cave N.P. Visitor Center 

Cave Tour Fees:  $12 for adults on our most popular tours, the Natural Entrance and Fairgrounds Tours. $10 for the Garden of Eden Tour. $12 for the Candlelight Tour (must be at least 8 years old). $30 for the Wild Cave Tour (must be at least 16 years old). Reservations only accepted for the Candlelight and Wild Cave Tour.  Fees are half price for visitors with the Access or Senior Pass.


Bison, elk, and other wildlife roam the rolling prairie grasslands and forested hillsides of one of America's oldest national parks. Below the remnant island of intact prairie sits Wind Cave, one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this maze of passages is home to boxwork, a unique formation rarely found elsewhere.


Insider Tips: Summer visitation is highest on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (and any rainy day!). Tours fill up as the day progress. Come early in the morning to avoid lines. 


Ranger Tips: Fall is a great time to visit. The weather is usually mild. Visitation is lower than the summer, and the elk are bugling as part of their annual mating rituals. Click here to listen to the bugle of an elk:


Fun Facts:

1. The park’s campground, the Elk Mountain Campground, has never filled since it opened in 1963.

2. The park has over 30 miles of hiking trails. Hiking in the park is a great way to get away from people and explore the park. You can either stay on the trail or strike off on your own.

3. Although they do not bellow with a New York accent, the initial 13 bison reintroduced into the park in 1913 came from the Bronx Zoo.

4. Black-footed ferrets, one of the rarest animals in North America, were reintroduced into the park in 2007.

5. It is estimated the cave contains 95% of the world’s boxwork, a calcite cave formation that hangs from the walls and ceilings.


Have a little extra time? Consider these additional sites:


The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs

Custer State Park


Travel Information:  87 Miles, 2 Hours 15 Minutes Drive Time

11149 U.S. Highway 16

Building B12

Custer, SD 57730

605 673 8300

Open Year Round, Open year round, but closed 2 days a week December through March.

Visitor Center Hours: Summer 8:00 am-5:30 pm; Winter 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Camping: Please see Custer Area Chamber of Commerce website and/or phone number for additional visitor guidance. There are numerous private campgrounds in the area. or (800) 992-9818 … (605) 673-2244 …


Trails: Roof Trail - ¼ mile (.4 km) loop, approximately 30-minute walk. Canyons Trail - 3.5 mile (5.6 km) loop trail.  Allow 2-4 hours to travel the loop.

Jewel Cave



Scenic Tour - Ticket Prices

  • $12.00 - Adult age 17 & over
  • $8.00 - Youth ages 6-16 (must be at least age 6)
  • Half price - Golden Age/Senior/Access Adult or Access Youth (pass holder only)
  • Not valid -  Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Volunteer Pass
  • 4th Graders with an Every Kid in a Park voucher or pass may inquire at ticket desk.


Historic Lantern Tour - Ticket Prices

  • $12.00 - Adult age 17 & over
  • $8.00 - Youth ages 6-16 (must be at least age 6)
  • $6.00 - Golden Age/Senior/Access Adult (pass holder only)
  • $4.00 - Access Youth - age 6 to 16 (pass holder only)
  • Not valid - Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Volunteer Pass / 4th Grade Pass


Discovery Talk - Ticket Prices

  • $4.00 - Adult age 17 & over
  • Free - Youth & Children ages 16 & under
  • Free - Golden Age/Senior/Access pass holder plus 3 adults
  • Free - Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Volunteer Pass / 4th Grade Pass plus 3 adults


Wild Caving Tour - Ticket Prices

  • $31.00 - Adult age 16 & over
  • $15.50 - Golden Age/Senior/Access Adult (pass holder only)
  • Not valid - Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Volunteer Pass / 4th Grade Pass
  • The minimum participant age allowed is 16 years old. Proof of age may be required.
  • A parent or legal guardian, of a 16 or 17 yr. old, is required to sign a permission waiver.

Immerse yourself within the third longest cave in the world. With over 180 miles of mapped and surveyed passages, this underground wilderness appeals to human curiosity. Its splendor is revealed through fragile formations and glimpses of brilliant color. Its complex maze of passages lure explorers and its scientific wealth remains a mystery. This resource is truly a jewel in the National Park Service.  Visitor Center exhibits introduce you to the cave and its features.  Take a Scenic or Historic Lantern Tour, or take park in a Discovery Talk to experience the cave yourself.

Jewel Cave

Insider Tips:

Plan to visit in the morning; tours often sell out by late morning or early afternoon.  Bring a light jacket or sweatshirt – the cave is 49 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius)


Ranger Tips:

Park staff encourages visitors to plan time to hike one of the Monument’s surface trails or take part in an interpretive patio talk. Interested youth are also invited to become a Junior Ranger (ages 5-12) or Pee Wee Ranger (ages 3-4).


Fun Facts:

Jewel Cave has only one natural entrance. Although the cave is more than 180 miles long, it lies beneath just 3 square miles of land area. The Monument is home to nine bat species, including the rare Townsend’s big-eared bat. Some bats that roost outside in the summer hibernate in the cave during winter. The “jewels” of Jewel Cave are calcite spar crystals. Calcite, which is about as hard as your fingernail, is too soft to be considered a true jewel.


If you have time, hike one of the monument’s surface trails to experience the sights and sounds of the Black Hills.


Have a little extra time? Consider these additional sites:

Custer State Park

Crazy Horse Memorial


Mount Rushmore National Memorial

13000 Hwy 244

Keystone, SD 57751

(605) 574-2523


Email address:

Web site

Mount Rushmore Sculpture
Open Year Round,
Park buildings are closed on Christmas Day, grounds are open on Christmas.

Fees: Parking $11, there is no park entrance fee.

Dining: Carver's Cafe is operated by Xanterra, (605) 574-2515 

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is host to three million visitors a year from across the country and around the world.  The sculptor Gutzon Borglum intended to produce a monument that conveyed the meaning of the first 150 years of United States history.

Four presidents were chosen: George Washington represented the birth of the nation; Thomas Jefferson symbolized the expansion; Theodore Roosevelt represented the development; and Abraham Lincoln embodied the preservation of the nation.

Mount Rushmore
View the film, "Mount Rushmore: The Shrine," at the Lincoln Borglum museum for an excellent introduction to the site.  The movie provides original carving era film clips, tells the story of the carving and contains a variety of historic photographs.  The visitor center is located directly underneath the Grand View Terrace and is fully accessible.

The Presidential Trail is a 1/2 mile boardwalk trail offering multiple perspectives of the sculpture.  From approximately late May through early October the Sculptor's Studio containing the original sculptor's model is open providing insight into the production of the sculpture.   The Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center provides a park movie, museum and bookstore. During the summer, look for the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Heritage Village to explore the life of the Plains Tribes.  Summer is also the season for the Youth Exploration Area where Junior Rangers can find a variety of programs, inquire at the visitor center for program information.  Don't miss the Evening Lighting Ceremony held nightly from Memorial weekend through September 30. 

Mount Rushmore Ranger talk in front of model
Insider Tips:

Don't miss, the Evening Lighting Ceremony features a short ranger talk, the movie "Freedom: America's Lasting Legacy," culminating with white lights illuminating the sculpture.  Memorial weekend through mid-August the evening program begins at 9 pm, from mid-August through September 30 the program begins at 8 pm. 


Ranger Tips:

Half of the Presidential Trail is stairs and can be challenging.  If you or anyone in your family is not able to negotiate stairs, let the ranger at the visitor center know so they can provide you with an alternative Sculptor's Studio access.


Fun Facts:

  • 90% of the sculpture was carved using dynamite.
  • Mount Rushmore was named for New York City lawyer Charles Rushmore long before the mountain was carved.
  • The rate of erosion of the sculpture is approximately 1 inch every 10,000 years.
  • The carving process began in 1927 and was completed in 1941.

DAY FOUR:  Devil’s Tower National Monument

TRAVEL INFORMATION:  107 miles, 1 hour 45 minute drive time 

149 State Hwy 110, Devils Tower WY 82714


Open Year Round

Fees:  $10-private vehicle, $5-motorcycle


Devils Tower National Monument is an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the rolling prairie surrounding the Black Hills. This site is considered Sacred to the Lakota and many other tribes that have a connection to the area. Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest traditional crack climbing areas in North America. Devils Tower entices us to explore and define our place in the natural and cultural world. 

Devils Tower

Insider Tips:

Watch for the nesting Falcons on the Tower during spring and early summer months


Ranger Tips:

Look for the Prairie Dogs on the left side of the road as you enter the Monument.

Devils Tower

Fun Facts:

  • As a publicity stunt, George Hopkins parachuted onto Devils Tower on October 1, 1941. He was stranded for six days before he could be rescued.
  • Eradication programs have reduced the black-tailed prairie dog range from thousands of square miles to a few scattered preserves like this one at Devils Tower National Monument. They now inhabit about 2% of the area they once occupied 200 years ago.
  • The columns that create Devils Tower can be 4, 5, 6, or 7 sided. Some geologists believe the last column fell 10,000 years ago.
  • Devils Tower is made of phonolite porphyry. Phonolite refers to the ringing of the rock when a small slab is struck, and its ability to reflect sound. Porphyry refers to its texture, large crystals of feldspar embedded in a mass of smaller crystals.
  • Prairie and Peregrine falcons sometimes nest in the cracks of Devils Tower. Climbing routes near the nest are closed until the young falcons fledge.

Have a little extra time? Consider these additional sites: 

Crook County Museum in Sundance

The Vore Buffalo Jump

Bighorn Nation Recreation Area

Little Bighorn Battlefield

Sturgis, SD