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Four Ways Rapid City Lives Up To The Hype

The Mount Rushmore Of Outdoor Vacations

It’s no accident that the Black Hills near Rapid City were chosen as the one spot on the planet to create an enduring monument of American ideals. Washington’s dedication to the start-up that became the United States, Jefferson’s quest for enlightenment, Lincoln’s steady push for justice, Teddy Roosevelt’s hunger for adventure – it’s all reflected in the outdoor experiences you’ll find on vacation in Rapid City.

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Start-up culture is our thing.

While I have big respect for the start-up challenges George Washington and Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum faced, I love that Rapid City’s dedicated to helping you zoom right past them. You can hit the trail running – or hiking, biking and wandering – starting right here in town. Rapid City parks give you easy access to pathways perfect for bikers, hikers and runners of all skill levels, including more than 18 miles of developed trails, changing terrain and killer views at Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park. Further afield, it’s just as easy to find your trailhead, whether you’re hiking in Custer State Park or biking the George Mickelson Trail, named One of the World’s Top Ten Bike Rides.

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Enlightenment is all around us.

When Jefferson wrote of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” he was unaware of the spectacular landscapes his western explorations would discover. So I’m pretty sure he never imagined the strange world of Badlands National Park, the awe-inspiring depths of Jewel Cave, the fossil-rich lands of the Mammoth Site or the view from South Dakota’s highest point along the Harney Peak Trails. But he would have totally dug the wonder we feel exploring these outdoor playgrounds.

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A steady hand wins the day.

The sculptors of Mount Rushmore had some explosive assistance to get the job done, but Lincoln had to rely on his own steady hand to lead the country. That notion of calm self-reliance is put to the test all the time in nature, whether it’s a wildlife photography outing at Devils Tower National Monument, a rock climbing adventure in the middle of town at Founders Rock or biking the advanced sections of the Buzzards Roost or Centennial Trails. Lucky for all of us, there’s no need to go it alone – outdoor attractions provide nature encounters the whole family can share.

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We’re hungry for adventure, but not all the time.

Okay, truth time, Teddy Roosevelt. It’s lots of fun to shred the trails and prove ourselves on rock faces. It’s awesome to get this close to buffalo and imagine being the first human to leave footsteps on Mars (or the Badlands – same effect). But after a day of playing hard outdoors, we’ve all worked up some actual hunger and are ready for All-American comfort. Rapid City’s restaurant scene comes through with culinary adventures, while its hotels are the perfect counterpoint to a rough and ready vacation. I’ll just be up on the roof at Vertex Sky Bar, winding down from the adventures we’ve had and raising a glass to another day of big things tomorrow.

Meet the Author

Ginny Petty

Always on the lookout for enriching creative and heritage experiences, Ginny counts Rapid City and the Black Hills as one of her favorite destinations. A southern girl with a yen for open spaces with powerful stories, she loves nothing more than helping people discover the places that make their own stories richer.

latest blog posts

Ginny Petty
Travel Writer

Always on the lookout for enriching creative and heritage experiences, Ginny counts Rapid City and the Black Hills as one of her favorite destinations. A southern girl with a yen for open spaces with powerful stories, she loves nothing more than helping people discover the places that make their own stories richer.

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