Highlights

  • High plains and granite peaks, rugged canyons and steep buttes
  • Rapid City, Lead, Custer
  • Many species of wildlife in open natural settings
  • Big horn sheep, prairie dogs, eagles, bison, elk, burrowing owl
  • Devils Tower, Bear's Den Butte, Mount Rushmore

The Badlands and Black Hills region of South Dakota is one of the most surprisingly interesting places in the country. A varied landscape of desert badlands, rolling prairie, magnificent forests, colorful canyons, towering granite peaks; unparalleled wildlife viewing; and a human history that continues to capture our imagination all contribute to the appeal of this region. The Badlands, Devils Tower, the Black Hills, Wind Cave - names that evoke the mysteries of the land you'll be exploring. Each day reveals remarkably different terrain and new marvels. Bison graze where the prairie meets the forest. Falcons soar above granite spires. Bighorn cling to inaccessible crags. Medicine bundles sway from Ponderosa Pines. Immense sculptures are blasted from the bedrock. Ancient fossils are revealed.

Sunday Overnight: Hotel Alex Johnson

Take the hotel courtesy shuttle from Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) to our first hotel. Introductory Talk and Welcome Dinner at the hotel tonight.

Monday Overnight: Spearfish Canyon Resort

Head out across the plains to Badlands National Park, our gateway to the broad valley carved in the plains of South Dakota. The valleys north rim presents an irregular wall of amazingly colorful and intricate formations called the Badlands. We hike the Castle Trail, where pinnacles, buttes and spires eroded from ancient deposits rise above us and a web of inaccessible canyons appear below as we search for hidden fossils and wildlife. We walk through the Door before embarking on a wonderful drive through this unique landscape. Be sure to have your camera handy to capture the amazing scenery and wildlife we˜ll see along the way. Distance: up to 3.8 miles.

Tuesday Overnight: Spearfish Canyon Resort

Visit Devils Tower National Monument - our nations first National Monument, recognized for its geologic significance, and an important Native American cultural site. We will circle the tower for different vantage points to really appreciate this special landscape. First we hike the Red Beds Trail, working our way downhill from the visitor center to the extraordinarily colorful deposits that give this trail its name. We pass through a Prairie Dog Town along the Belle Fourche River and, after lunch, begin an ascent back to the base of the tower. We then walk a mile on paved path around the base of this remarkable formation, where we might spot rock climbers clinging to the rock or medicine bundles hanging from trees. A short hike at nearby Joyner Ridge provides a different perspective of the tower. Distance: Up to 8 miles.

Wednesday Overnight: Sylvan Lake Lodge

Good times await in Black Hills National Forest. We walk from our Inn, taking a quiet stroll along Little Spearfish Creek to Roughlock Falls. Delicate wildflowers or colorful foliage will catch our eye depending on the season. The falls are nestled in a small ravine below the sheer sandstone walls of Spearfish Canyon. Next, we'll drive to historic Deadwood and the Mt. Moriah Cemetery, where famous personalities of the West, like Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickok and other respectable and some not so respectable citizens, are laid to rest. We then continue deeper into the Black Hills to hike along Rapid Creek, following the remnants of an abandoned mining railroad as it crosses the creek on sturdy bridges beneath the canyon walls. (Distance: up to 6.5 miles)

Thursday Overnight: Sylvan Lake Lodge

Today begins with a 45 minute wildlife drive through Custer State Park into Wind Cave National Park where we will hike through rolling grasslands and wooded slopes in search of bison, deer, elk, prairie dogs and pronghorn, whatever crosses our path. We've been lucky to see coyote, golden eagles, badgers, and burrowing owls on past hikes. You never know what may surprise us. After lunch, you have the choice of taking a ranger tour into Wind Cave to see its rare boxwork formations or visiting the Mammoth Site at Hot Springs, an active paleontological dig boasting the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world. The mammoths, along with many other Pleistocene era animals were entrapped in a sinkhole that is now enclosed by the museum. Distance: up to 4 miles

Friday Overnight: Sylvan Lake Lodge

Spend the day at over 6000' in some of the most unusual mountain scenery imaginable at Custer State Park. Our hike takes us to a tight grouping of incredible granite fingers called the Cathedral Spires. We'll pass through cool spruce forests and open slopes as we climb to the spires. The trail then circles the base of the spires to our dramatic lunch spot. The return hike provides us with distant views, including Black Elk Peak the highest in South Dakota, as we descend to the shores of Sylvan Lake. Here we can opt to circle the lake and continue up to the Inn. Distance: Up to 5 miles

Saturday

Leave in the morning to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This gigantic and inspiring sculpture is a monument to the indomitable American spirit. We will take the Presidential trail to the talus slope directly below the massive sculpture, great for photographing this immense work of art and learning how it took shape. You are then free to visit the museums, shops, and theaters for the rest of the morning. After lunch the Wayfarers will deliver you to Rapid City Regional Airport for onward connections.
Moderate
Black Hills, Badlands, Devils Tower, Wind Cave; names that evoke the mysteries of the landscape.
Terrain: Mostly well defined trails with occasion stretches of loose rock or slippery soil on steeper slopes. Much open treeless country with more forest at higher elevations. Elevation gains of no more than 500'. Elevations range from 2400' to 6800' above sea level.
4-7 miles of hiking per day

TRIP DETAILS

6 nights from
$4,295.00
per person, double occupancy
(Single Supplement $795.00)
Our Wayfarers friends' Price is $4,080.00

Dates

From Sep 15 to Sep 21 (more dates)
Request booking
Arrival: Rapid City
Departure: Rapid City

Activities

Walk Adventure
South Dakota September 2019 Map

Hotels - Where we stay

Hotel Alex Johnson

Hotel Alex Johnson

Located in downtown Rapid City, SD, the Hotel Alex Johnson is a member of the Historic Hotels in America. It is centrally located to all of the famous Black Hills attractions. Built in 1928, the hotel has been host to several presidents, as well as, some spirits. The hotel also has the distinction of being known as one of the most haunted hotels in South Dakota. The hotel has an historic charm with modern amenities. Amenities in the tastefully decorated rooms are premium bedding, air-conditioning, cable TV service, free Wifi, and hairdryers. This smoke free hotel has two restaurants, a coffee shop, rooftop terrace, spa services, a fitness center and free airport shuttles.

Spearfish Canyon Lodge

Spearfish Canyon Lodge

Set deep in the Blackhills, the Spearfish Canyon Lodge is surrounded by breathtaking canyons and spectacular cliffs. The decor of the main lodge features heavy log walls, stone fireplaces and natural artifacts. The in-room amenities include pillow top beds, free Wifi, room service, air-conditioning, hairdryers, television with satellite service, in-room coffee/tea maker and microwave. The dining options include the historic Latchstring Inn which has been providing food and hospitality for over 100 years. For your relaxation after a day of walking there are two outdoor hot tubs and a spa. On-site laundry facilities are available.

Sylvan Lake Lodge

Sylvan Lake Lodge

Located in Custer State Park, the Sylvan Lake Lodge is considered its crown jewel. Located along Needles Highway, the stone and timber lodge overlooks the sloping hills and breathtaking beauty of Sylvan Lake. The warm and rustic cabins located in the pine and spruce covered hillside were recently redecorated. Each cabin has a private bath, kitchenette, hairdryer, telephone, flat screen TV, and is climate controlled. All cabins are non-smoking. Free Wifi is available in the main lodge. A restaurant and bar, as well as, laundry facilities are located on the property.

Start planning your trip

What Is Included in the Price of My Vacation

  • Full-time services of two staff - a Walk Leader and Walk Manager
  • A backup vehicle for resting walkers and moving luggage
  • Comprehensive Travel Information Package and Reading List
  • Diverse itineraries with an emphasis on history, geography, culture, peoples, flora and fauna
  • Demonstrations, wine tasting, admissions to museums and historic sites
  • All ground transfers (ferries, cable cars, trains, etc.)
  • Maps and unique souvenirs to commemorate your trip
  • First-class accommodations with cultural and historical interest
  • All meals - with choices - (Special dietary requirements? No problem!)
  • Wine with dinner
  • On-trail snacks and refreshments
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants