Before School Starts, Visit the Black Hills

Is visiting the Black Hills on your family’s bucket list? There are still a few weeks remaining of summer before it’s time to sharpen pencils, slip on backpacks, and enter brand new classrooms.

Treat the kids to a trip they’ll never remember by making a drive to the Black Hills. You’ll marvel at the striking appearance of the bluish-black Hills against the bright summer sky. You’ll want to pull over the car to hike the trails that take you through lush Ponderosa pines and grasslands. Hiking Harney Peak near Hill City—the highest elevation point in the Black Hills at 7,244 feet in the Black Elk Wilderness Area—is a thrill for adults and children alike.

Of course, you’ll want to give the kids a historical experience by seeing Mount Rushmore, a national monument featuring the faces of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Another stop on the bucket list is to visit Crazy Horse Memorial—a sculpture carved into a mountain featuring Lakota warrior Crazy Horse, who helped defeat General Custer in the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn. Speaking of Custer, you’ll want to take the family on a drive through Custer State Park, where you can see buffalo roaming freely (just don’t get too close, as the buffalo will charge). If you visit historic Deadwood, you can see the site where Wild Bill Hickok was killed in a saloon brawl, and you can visit the graves of Hickok, Sheriff Seth Bullock, and Calamity Jane at Mount Moriah Cemetery. About 90 miles up the road from Rapid City, you’ll be able to take in the breathtaking and spiritually-uplifting Badlands—where hiking trails abound.

If you want to be centrally-located during your Black Hills getaway, we advise that you stay in Rapid City. While you’re in Rapid City, be sure to get some shopping done. There are back-to-school sales at Rushmore Mall and T.J.Maxx at Rushmore Crossing, where you can find great deals on name brand backpacks, jeans, long-sleeved t-shirts, hoodies, and sneakers. For discounted school supplies, make stops at Target, Office Max or Office Depot, and Walmart—which has two locations in Rapid City for your convenience.

“The Howard Johnson Inn & Suites is conveniently located to the Interstate, to restaurants, and to shopping,” said Lyndsey Watson, sales manager at Howard Johnson Rapid City at 950 North St. “We’re happy to give you recommendations and directions for fun things to do in the Black Hills.”

Watson said after full days of sightseeing and shopping, she recommends retiring in a clean, comfortable guest room where there is free WiFi. There is also an indoor swimming pool on site at the Rapid City Howard Johnson.