If you’re looking for an exciting trip to take, look no further than going to beautiful South Dakota. With plenty of parks, forests, and attractions to see, you can make a fun trip out of it. Read on to see our awesome 4 day South Dakota trip itinerary. Here is a look at what is included:
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Day 1 – Checking In and Grabbing Some Dinner
It’s finally here! You’ve arrived at your destination! I always love the first night of vacation, getting settled in, looking forward to exploring our destination the next day! However you have gotten to South Dakota ( we took a road trip from Colorado), settle in and relax after a day traveling.
Where to Stay for Your Trip
Even though this itinerary has some sights a distance from it, I do recommend staying in Custer. I loved it’s scenic views and a quiet atmosphere. Get settled in at your VRBO, we loved staying here, it was quiet, charming and has a fire pit, or if you prefer a hotel, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Custer is a good option.
Where to Eat in Custer
Then go grab some dinner, I recommend The Custer Wolf for a delicious meal to start your vacation. They have some great burgers, try the BJC Burger if you like a little kick and don’t forget the onion rings! I hope that your Day 1 is a great start to your awesome 4 day South Dakota trip itinerary!
Day 2 – Hiking in Spearfish Canynon and Exploring Deadwood
The adventure begins with a morning coffee and cinnamon roll or Western bagel from Calamity Jane Coffee Shop and Grill. After your breakfast, hit the road for an hour-and-a-half drive to Spearfish! Here you will enjoy a couple hikes in the break taking Spearfish Canyon area and enjoy some amazing scenery on your drive.
Hiking in Spearfish Canyon Area
If you are feeling adventurous try out the Devil’s Bathtub Hike-trailhead located right off of Spearfish Canyon Highway. The trail takes about one hour with crossing rivers using rocks and fallen trees as bridges, so make sure to wear shoes that can get wet. I really like hiking sandals, in fact, they are all I wear hiking and can handle all sorts of terrains. Here are a few of options you can take a look at :
At the end of the hike is a natural pool that you can rest at before hiking back out.
If you are up for it, there is another hike in the area, a 2-mile hike with bridal veil falls at the end in the area called Roughlock Falls. This hike isn’t too difficult and has wide paths to walk on! The falls at the end are worth the hike, they are pretty amazing.
Where to Eat in Spearfish
After that rigorous activity, it’s time to think about some lunch. I recommend The Farmhouse in Spearfish, their food is delicious and the views are amazing. Get the Jalapeno Burger, it’s incredible!
After that, hit the road for your next stop in Deadwood, about a twenty-minute drive from Spearfish.
Deadwood is a Wild West town, known for where Jack McCall shot Wild Bill Hickok while he was playing poker in a saloon in 1876. Spend some time in the historic downtown, shopping, having a drink at a saloon, or trying your luck a casino. Grab dinner at Jacobs Brew house and Grocer, definitely try the Up in Smoke Pasta, which has house smoked brisket! Don’t miss watching one of the shoot-out reenactments (they have 3 shows a day) before you head back to Custer, about an hour drive to end your day.
Day 3 – Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park
Start today by grabbing coffee and breakfast at Calamity Jane Coffee Shop and Grill, then heading to Mount Rushmore. Since it’s early, hopefully you will arrive before the crowds get there! Take in incredible views of this National Historic Landmark and get some selfies with the presidents. Then take a walk on the Presidential Trail, it is a little less than a mile walk and can give you some great views of the monument.
Also, plan on checking out the Sculptor’s Studio which is located on the Presidential Trail. There you can learn about the carving process, the lives of the workers as well as view a scale model of the concept for Mount Rushmore. Head over to the gift shop; it is definitely worth a look. Then, grab some homemade ice cream in the café; it is the original Thomas Jefferson recipe.
Where to Eat in Custer
Now that you have had your fill of ice cream and souvenirs, make a quick stop at Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. in Custer for lunch, they specialize in handcrafted burgers with homemade buns. Don’t miss this place, it was one of the best places we ate at in South Dakota, the food is fresh made there and worth any line that they might have.
Exploring Custer State Park and Needles Highway
Then take a scenic drive through Custer State Park. Entering from West Entrance will be the easiest from downtown Custer and once there you will enjoy 18 miles worth of picturesque hills as well as roaming buffalo, begging burros, and if you’re lucky, bighorn sheep. The drive is slow through the twists and waiting for wildlife to cross but it is a great way to spend an afternoon. If you need to stop to stretch your legs, there are plenty of picnic stops, two hiking trails, and the visitors center. Allow one to two hours for the drive because you never know when there will be a buffalo traffic jam.
On the Wildlife loop, there is a turn-off to get onto Needles Highway. This 14 miles of highway that ends at Sylvan Lake has incredible views. On the drive, enjoy the needle like rock formations, narrow one way tunnels, and breathtaking scenery of the black hills. At Sylvan lake, take some time to hike around the lake, swim, or relax on the shore. After a day of viewing South Dakota’s natural beauty, drive back to Custer and have dinner at Skogen Kitchen. Try the Shishito peppers and the roasted halibut for an amazing way to end your day.
Day 4- Visiting Crazy Horse and Heading Home
Pack your stuff and head out on your trip home, this is the last day of the awesome 4 day South Dakota trip itinerary. Stop by Baker’s Bakery & Café for breakfast and be sure to try their homemade cinnamon roll – you won’t be disappointed! After a hearty breakfast, head on out to the Crazy Horse Memorial. While you are there, you can check out the mountain and visit The Indian Museum of North America. Plan on staying to watch the American Indian Dancers perform and chat with Native American Artisans. After that, grab a Native American taco at the Laughing Water Restaurant and then hit the road for your journey back home.
Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway or an extended vacation, the Black Hills of South Dakota have something to offer everyone. With four days full of activities, we hope you were able to experience some of the natural beauty and historical landmarks that make this area so special. We hope you are inspired to visit South Dakota with this awesome 4 day South Dakota trip itinerary.
Where are your favorite places in South Dakota? We would love to hear about them in the comments below.
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