Travel South Dakota with the Kids

South Dakota: The Adventure is Waiting

If you travel plans seek adventure, South Dakota awaits! Rolling Prairies, cowboys and Indians, Wild West fun, history and more make it a great destination, even with the kiddos!

Custer State Park for South Dakota Scenic Beauty

For a day of scenic beauty, head to Custer State Park. Wide, 71,00 acres, open ranges for you and the buffalo to roam. Located in the Black Hills, Custer State Park offers wildlife sightings along its 18 mile wildlife loop from early spring to late fall.  One of the largest publicly-owned herds of bison roams freely. The bison are easily spotted, often stopping traffic. Beyond the bison, there’s antelope, mountain goats, big horn sheep, deer, elk and burros!

Escape the city with one of Custer State Park’s scenic drives. The Needles Highway is a fun drive that showcase the diversity of South Dakota’s terrain.

south dakota custer state park

It’s a relaxing drive that winds through forests of pine and spruce with meadows embellished by aspen and littered with granite bolder outcroppings.  Needles highway is named for the needle-like granite formations that rise to the sky along the route. While the views are breathtaking, the children will be in awe of Tunnel 5, right by the Needle’s Eye rock formation. This tunnel serves duty for both incoming and outgoing traffic to the circle of needles. The part that makes jaws drop is it measures just 8’4″ wide by 12″ high.

needles highway tunnel 5

Custer State Park has an entrance fee (about $15) and offers fishing, hiking, camping and lodging.

Mount Rushmore: South Dakota’s Star Attraction

Making an educational trip for kids is Mount Rushmore. In fact, mention South Dakota and, for many, the first thing that will come to mind is the landmark that literally holds the faces of America.

south dakota mount rushmore

The four men chosen for this national monument are George Washington, because he is the father of our country. Thomas Jefferson because he expanded our territory with the Louisiana Purchase and expressed our beliefs as a country as he penned the Declaration of Independence. Abraham Lincoln for preserving the Union, and Theodore Roosevelt for fulfilling the expansionist’s dream by linking the oceans with the Panama Canal.

Take the time to walk the 0.6 mile walk around the loop to see  inside the Sculptor’s Studio where the models created by Borglum are on display. There are 220 steps total, spread out over the walk that leads to a viewing deck located directly beneath the faces. A small cave for the children to explore and discover a great view of the head of George Washington.

Bear Country USA, South Dakota’s Premier Drive-Through Wildlife Park

bear country usa

Just eight miles beyond Rapid City’s city limits, discover the world’s largest collection of privately owned black bears at Bear Country USA.  This drive through wildlife park is open May 1 thru November 30. The peak season is (June, July and August). Plan on spending about an hour and a half enjoying the animals from the car where you can view big horn sheep, elk, rocky mountain goats, arctic wolves and of course, bears. There’s also an easy walk through Babyland.

Deadwood, South Dakota Streets of the Wild West

Deadwood is just north of Keystone. The famous and infamous have left their marks here. Follow their footsteps as you explore the beauty and history of this one-of-a-kind Wild West town. The entire city of Deadwood is a National Landmark. Visit the saloon where the notorious Bill Hickok was fatally shot and walk the streets of the wild west.

Crazy Horse South Dakota’s Landmark to The Indian Chief

Another landmark to not miss is Crazy Horse. A work progresses, the Crazy Horse monument is the world’s largest mountain sculpture. When finished, Crazy Horse will stand 641 feet long and 563 feet high.

Lodging in the Black Hills of South Dakota

south dakota view from edelweiss mountain lodging
View from Edelweiss Mountain Lodging (Hyatt Cabin)

There are plenty of hotels in the area. For those seeking a more secluded location, centrally located to the landmarks and sights, consider Edelweiss Mountain Lodging as lodging in South Dakota. They offer cabins in different sizes and a variety of price ranges to suit your vacation needs. If you like vacations more from a camper, they offer RV spots.

There’s so much to see and do in South Dakota, the kiddos and you are sure to find it one vacation to remember!