Stay in the loop!

Want to know when we share big things? Subscribe today & keep up-to-date with our posts.

How To Get The Most Out Of A Black Hills Adventure

Howdy! Professional adventurer and storyteller @chrisbrinleejr here; for the next few days I'm going to be sharing some highlights from the raddest week of my summer, in Rapid City, along with my adventure-partner @lanleyc (who nailed this selfie.) Before planning our trip to the area, I had only known of the Black Hills in relation to Sturgis, the annual motorcycle rally, which attracts Harley riders from all over the world. I figured that there had to be a reason so many riders returned there year after year, but what we would discover (in addition to countless perfect winding roads) was a mecca for outdoor adventures. Stay posted to see more; if you'd like to check out our itinerary, take a look at the blog post from our adventure. 


A post shared by Visit Rapid City (@visitrapidcity) on

upon our arrival in Rapid City, @lanleyc@petertheheeler, and I immediately headed to Custer State Park. We weren't really sure what to expect upon walking into the visitor's center, but a captivating film, narrated by @kevincostnermodernwest, quickly revealed the stunning scenery and rich history that was in store for us. 
After the film (definitely stop by to watch it,) we wasted no time driving the park's scenic loop (where we were greeted by friendly donkeys and herds of hundreds of American Bison) before heading over to the Needles - a world class rock climbing area. 
A quick scramble to the top of some small pillars afforded us an incredible view of the Cathedral Spires, which we'd climb later in the week. @chrisbrinleejr 


A post shared by Visit Rapid City (@visitrapidcity) on

After scrambling around to get some better perspectives of the Cathedral Spires, @lanleyc@petertheheeler and I headed over to Sylvan Lake to get a dusk paddle in on our @orukayak.

The water was still, but the evening came alive with the sound of crickets, birds, and other wildlife while Christian and Peter enjoyed their first paddling experience together. Couldn't think of a better way to wrap up our first day in Rapid City.  @chrisbrinleejr


A post shared by Visit Rapid City (@visitrapidcity) on

What is cool about hiking in Badlands is that there are very few trails; instead, visitors are encouraged to hike "cross country" instead - which allows for a very adventurous experience.

While hiking in Badlands was fun - skating down its long, smooth, winding asphalt roads, surrounded by some of the most dramatic scenery we'd ever seen, was funner (yes, we know that "funner" isn't really a word!) After @lanleyc and I finished our cross country hike (taking some time to scramble onto a couple of chossy peaks to get some unique views) we got out the boards. As much as we both enjoy hiking, there was something special about this carving session. @chrisbrinleejr


A post shared by Visit Rapid City (@visitrapidcity) on

American History was by far my favorite subject in high school; and it was incredibly intriguing to learn about the great leaders sculpted into the Black Hills at Mount Rushmore in the classroom - but to see their magnificent likenesses carved into the granite cliffs firsthand was something else entirely.

First, you don't realize how close they are to the road. As soon as you cruise around a bend in the highway, it's like "BAM!" There they are. Then, once you get even closer, the sculptures really come alive. 
This day started with a jaunt up "Garfield Goes to Washington," a multi-pitch rock climbing classic on the "White House Wall," which is actually located behind these presidents (just be sure that you don't top out on the cliffs!) After climbing its three moderate pitches of stunning granite, we took the Harley for a spin - planning to catch the lighting ceremony for Mt. Rushmore on the way back to Rapid City.

However, while we were riding, it started pouring rain - but we stopped by the monument anyway. Our perseverance was rewarded though, because the sky opened up and the sun pierced through the most dramatic clouds before going totally dark and the sculpture was flooded with light. Well-worth the wait, and the wet ride. @chrisbrinleejr


A post shared by Visit Rapid City (@visitrapidcity) on

Over the course of a week, @lanleyc and I hiked, mountain biked, kayaked, and climbed. Rode a Harley through the Black Hills. Longboarded through Badlands; and explored @jewelcavenps by historic lantern light. We learned about the great history of the American West, and witnessed firsthand the wild bison roam. Incredible food was eaten; local IPA's were drank.

Rapid City was never even on my radar as a destination to visit, but now I can't wait to go back.

If you'd like to recreate our itinerary, check out the blog post that's loaded with highlights from our trip: link in our profile. Thanks for following along! @chrisbrinleejr


A post shared by Visit Rapid City (@visitrapidcity) on

Meet the Author

Chris Brinlee Jr.

Storyteller | Creator | Traveler 

latest blog posts

Chris Brinlee Jr.
Guest Blogger

Storyteller | Creator | Traveler 

View More

Latest Blog Post

  • The Most Unique Souvenir From The Black Hills
    January 21, 2020 - Cody
  • The Best Of Both Worlds
    November 5, 2019 - Cody
  • Construction at Mount Rushmore? More Like Enhancements
    September 3, 2019 - Cody
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Winter Fun In Custer State Park
    January 16, 2020 - Kelsy
  • Top Visitor Questions from 2019
    January 8, 2020 - Kelsy
  • Trip Worthy Events in 2020
    December 23, 2019 - Kelsy
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Hibernation Is Overrated For The Critters Of The Black Hills
    December 5, 2019 - Anne
  • 5 Reasons I Love Downtown Rapid City
    May 31, 2019 - Anne
  • Get Your Hike On
    March 25, 2019 - Anne
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City's "Little Secret"
    November 20, 2019 - Chris
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Planning A Meeting In Rapid City Is Easy - And Adventurous
    November 13, 2019 - Tyson
  • 5 Reasons Meeting Planners Love Rapid City
    February 6, 2019 - Tyson
  • Amazing Rush Season 2: Day One Adventures
    October 27, 2017 - Tyson
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The 7 Wonders In and Around Rapid City, SD
    October 10, 2019 - Allie Bast
  • Latest Blog Post

  • IN HISTORY: 1st Custer State Park Buffalo Auction, Feb. 12, 1966
    August 23, 2019 - Black Hills Knowledge Network
  • In History: First Blast On Crazy Horse Memorial, June 3, 1948
    April 5, 2019 - Black Hills Knowledge Network
  • IN HISTORY: Rapid City Founded, Feb. 24, 1876
    February 22, 2018 - Black Hills Knowledge Network
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Summer In Rapid City
    August 1, 2019 - Stephanie
  • Latest Blog Post

  • An Oz Experience: Flying With The Oldest Balloon Company In The USA
    July 26, 2019 - Danielle
  • My Daughter's First Time At Storybook Island
    June 7, 2019 - Danielle
  • Big, Bold Flavors Where The Buffalo Roam
    December 8, 2017 - Danielle
  • Latest Blog Post

  • 10 Must-Do Adventures In And Around Rapid City
    July 3, 2019 - Chris Brinlee Jr.
  • How To Get The Most Out Of A Black Hills Adventure
    August 17, 2017 - Chris Brinlee Jr.
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The Most Exciting Social Event Of The Summer
    May 10, 2019 - Jennifer
  • Get Lost, Play Tag…Be Brave
    May 8, 2019 - Jennifer
  • Make Unbearably Perfect Memories at Bear Country USA
    March 2, 2018 - Jennifer
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Outdoor Campus West: Free Family Fun!
    April 24, 2019 - Shiloh
  • Experience the Magic at Storybook Island
    December 5, 2018 - Shiloh
  • Add Some Color to Your Life
    April 25, 2018 - Shiloh
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Mount Rushmore Questions You’ve Been Dying to Ask
    February 8, 2019 - Michaela
  • Top 5 Trails Within 30 Minutes of Rapid City
    March 8, 2018 - Michaela
  • Rapid City from Michaela’s point of view.
    October 17, 2016 - Michaela
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City Myth Busting
    January 25, 2019 - Sarah
  • Downtown Shopping
    January 3, 2019 - Sarah
  • My Favorite Parks and Monuments
    January 29, 2016 - Sarah
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The Custer State Park Trail Challenge
    October 26, 2018 - Amy
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Our Family Vacation To South Dakota
    September 21, 2018 - Liz Beatty
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Black Hills Powwow: A Kaleidoscope of Color
    September 5, 2018 - Kris Monroe
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Wild Adventures Out West
    July 12, 2018 - Kevin Stinehart
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City Blog: Spearfish Canyon
    June 25, 2018 - Aiden Lynn-Klimenko & Madison Perrins
  • Rapid City Blog: Trail System
    November 14, 2016 - Aiden Lynn-Klimenko & Madison Perrins
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Top Picks For Outdoor Adventure At 9 Parks & Monuments
    April 11, 2018 - Lisa
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The Mount Rushmore of Summer Vacations
    April 9, 2018 - Ginny
  • 8 Great Reasons to Love Spring in the Black Hills
    January 29, 2018 - Ginny
  • Four Ways Rapid City Lives Up To The Hype
    June 23, 2016 - Ginny
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Refresh Your Adventure At Rapid City Microbreweries
    January 16, 2018 - Stephen Sebestyen
  • Latest Blog Post

  • In The Spirit Of The Season: The Story Of Devils Tower National Monument
    October 10, 2017 - Amanda Hitchcock
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City's Wildside
    October 5, 2017 - Adrian Munoz
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City - Reptile Gardens, Bear Country USA, Watiki Water Park, Outdoor Campus West
    July 7, 2017 - Heather & Pete Reese
  • Custer State Park Jeep Tour, Chuckwagon, Buffalo, Antelope!
    July 6, 2017 - Heather & Pete Reese
  • Rapid City Day 3 - Mount Rushmore, Adventure Park, Cave Exploring!
    July 6, 2017 - Heather & Pete Reese
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Beginners Guide: Being A Tourist In Your Backyard
    June 2, 2017 - Tessa
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The adventure of a lifetime in Rapid City
    March 20, 2017 - Ellen and Mike
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Basil, Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Wine…Just A Few Of My Favs
    January 27, 2017 - Stacie
  • 1,200 Degrees of Taste Bud Paradise
    January 15, 2017 - Stacie
  • Latest Blog Post

  • A Black Hills Winter
    December 23, 2016 - Jesse
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Travelin with Tiff: Rush Mountain Adventure Park
    December 13, 2016 - Tiffany
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Downtown Trails and Recreation
    July 5, 2016 - Lisa
  • Latest Blog Post

  • 3 Mountain Bike Rides to Jump Start Your Black Hills Adventures
    May 20, 2016 - Craig
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Shredding in the Black Hills
    March 10, 2016 - Bill