Road Trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota!

I can be a total Colorado snob when it comes to hiking, but sometimes it’s nice to mix things up and I’m so glad I made the 5 hour trek up to the Black Hills in South Dakota! Thank you to my dear friend, Jennifer who suggested this safe, socially distanced road trip! The Black Hills are a really beautiful corner of our country I honestly probably wouldn’t have explored without someone else suggesting it.

Here’s Our Itinerary:

Day One:
Arrive in Custer
Stay at Buffalo Ridge Resort

Day Two:
Hike Sunday Gulch
Visit Deadwood

Day Three:
Hike Little Devil’s Tower
Dinner at the Glamp

Day Four:
Mount Rushmore
Hike Hippie Hole
Paddleboard on Sylvan Lake
Crazy Horse
Explore Custer

Glamping! 

I’ve always wanted to go glamping and oh my goodness did it live up to my expectations and more. I love everything about camping except actually sleeping in a small tent and not showering, so being able to have an incredible outdoor experience with a comfortable bed to sleep in and gorgeous shower made all the difference. I know, Glamping seems a little over the top and it totally is, but I loved it! And can’t wait to do it again.

Also, I’m officially the worst campfire chef ever! I got a little cocky after being able to start the fire in the first place, then figured we could just throw some veggies on the flames and it would be fine – I was wrong, whoops! But the smores ended up being fantastic!

New Favorite Hikes!

I’m blown away by the hikes we did in South Dakota! Each one had incredible views, beautiful fall colors and some of the more unique experiences I’ve had while hiking. Sunday Gulch has about a half mile of steep, slippery boulders so you have to use a handrail in order to make it up or down. I thought the rails would take away from the experience, but it just made it that much more fun!

The scramble to get to the top of Little Devil’s Tower wasn’t something I normally do on hikes and I absolutely loved it! It looked intimidating at first (and it’s definitely not for beginners) but I really found the challenge exciting and it made the view at the top all the more rewarding.

Hippie Hole is one of the steepest hikes I’ve ever done, but it’s also going down as one of my all time favorites because of the swimming hole at the bottom! This was my favorite experience of the trip and we had the whole place to ourselves! We’d brought swimsuits to change into and took turns jumping into the freezing cold water (it literally takes your breath away!) This hike isn’t listed on the pamphlets and websites, so it’s definitely more a local spot and a tough one with how steep it is!

Deadwood & Custer, South Dakota

I love exploring new towns, especially quirky western ones! Unfortunately it’s not the easiest to fully experience them right now, but we were still able to take them in. We glamped in Custer & it has the cutest little downtown. Also, did you know that Custer claims the best burger in the country according to Trip Advisor? We got takeout from them and honestly, it’s pretty incredible!

Deadwood is a bit of a drive to this old western town, but it’s absolutely gorgeous and has some cool history. We learned all about Wild Bill & Calamity Jane, while visiting their graves wander through the graveyard to take in the view from the top of the city – it’s awesome! There are daily reenactments of shootouts & trials, which isn’t really my cup of tea but I totally appreciate the commitment to keeping their history alive. The highlight for me was the ghost tour of the Bullock Hotel! I was totally freaked out sitting in the dark basement listening to ghost stories, but that made it all the more fun. There are a lot of ties to Teddy Roosevelt at this hotel and while I’m not sure I totally believe all the stories, I heard enough to know I’m not brave enough to ever spend the night there.

*Quick COVID note: South Dakota’s rules are different from Colorado, so I didn’t see a ton of masks. We had planned this trip to be almost entirely outside or in our glamping tent so it still felt very safe! Our only indoor activity was the ghost tour where everyone was wearing a mask and we were able to be socially distant in very large, open rooms & hallways. We did experience some mask aggression at different points throughout the trip, but in general this trip was very easy to make COVID safe*

Author of Approachable Outdoors Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I'm not exploring the trails, I'm a Meteorologist! You can see me weekend mornings on NBC affiliate 9News in Colorado. Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

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