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.
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
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
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
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
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