South Dakota Vacation Packages

south dakota tours

Discover the "land of infinite variety" as you explore Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, and more on our South Dakota Vacation Packages.

Our South Dakota vacations begin in Rapid City, cycling back road prairie land. While enjoying your time on our South Dakota vacation packages, you’ll pedal the Mickelson Trail through the heart of the Black Hills, following the historic Deadwood to Edgemont Burlington Northern rail line. Walk in the footsteps of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp, and Buffalo Bill in the town of Deadwood. Explore Crazy Horse Memorial and snap photos of bison, elk, sheep, and prairie dogs along the aptly named Wildlife Loop.

Few attractions stir the emotions of visitors the way Mount Rushmore does. Hike the base of Mt. Rushmore, one of America’s most inspiring symbols of democracy on our South Dakota vacation packages.

The only thing better than a day spent exploring the legendary Great Plains and the Black Hills on our South Dakota vacations? Topping it off with a hot stone massage, a delicious meal and a restful night’s sleep in the comfort of your resort, hotel, or lodge.

South Dakota Vacation Packages

North America

Mount Rushmore & Black Hills Adventure

  • Duration 6 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 3 
    • Activity Level 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation and love the feeling of relaxing after a busy day on the go. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.

    Read more about the Active Range

Trip Start: Rapid City, South Dakota Trip End: Rapid City, South Dakota

North America

Mount Rushmore & Black Hills Family Vacation

  • Duration 6 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 3 
    • Activity Level 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation and love the feeling of relaxing after a busy day on the go. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.

    Read more about the Active Range

Trip Start: Rapid City, South Dakota Trip End: Rapid City, South Dakota
Active Adventure Assurance

Secure Your Spot Now, Pay the Rest Later

As members of the Active Adventures family, Austin Adventures offers booking assurance that allows you to secure your spot with a deposit now and pay the rest later. Plus, if your plans change or you can’t travel, you can transfer your booking or request a refund on any additional funds paid (less deposit) up to 90 days from your original trip start date.  

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When Is the Best Time to Visit South Dakota?

Below is a breakdown of what to expect during each of South Dakota’s four seasons. Keep in mind that conditions may vary depending on where you are in the state. At higher elevations, temperatures will be cooler, and in the southeastern portion of the state, precipitation will be higher. South Dakota is also one of those unique places where temperatures and conditions can vary throughout the day, so sometimes you may have the pleasure of experiencing two seasons in one day on a South Dakota vacation!

Spring (March-May)

Spring tends to be a milder, transitional season in South Dakota. While rain showers are common (April averages nine days of precipitation and 2.4 inches of rain) so are sunny days and temperatures can even get into the 70s in May. For the most part, expect daily temperatures to be in the 50s. Late April and early May are great times to visit if you want to see the wildflowers bloom and perhaps, a baby animal or two!

Summer (Memorial Day-Labor Day)

This would be considered peak tourist season in South Dakota. School is out for summer and South Dakota – especially Mount Rushmore – is a popular destination for vacationing families as well as international tour groups. You can expect around 15 hours of daylight, so there is plenty of time to squeeze in sightseeing and outdoor recreational activities. In late May, the average temperature is 70 degrees, in June it reaches the 80s and by July and August, daily averages in most South Dakota cities are in the mid-80s. The thermometer will hit 90 degrees here and there, but it’s rare and 100-degree days are even rarer. At night, temperatures often dip down to a comfortable 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity is seldom a problem, but it’s not uncommon to have short, afternoon thunderstorms during the summer months, so be sure to pack a light rain jacket or umbrella. Keep in mind that every August, one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world takes place in Sturgis so there will be a lot going on in and around the Black Hills.

Autumn (September – November)

After Labor Day, temperatures begin to drop, and for September and October, you can plan on highs in the 70s and 60s, respectively. By November, the temperatures drop another 20 degrees, and at night, it can get below freezing. Still, fall is a fantastic time to visit South Dakota – especially if you want to catch the fall foliage in the Black Hills.

Winter (December – February)

Average annual snowfall for the state of South Dakota is 37 inches, and while it’s higher than the average yearly snowfall for the U.S. (24 inches), it’s not much compared to states like Colorado (70 inches) and Vermont (90 inches). Temperatures are low, with the average high in January around 27 degrees, but as long as you dress accordingly and wear boots, you should be able to participate in a variety of snow sports including ice fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling. There is an average of 9-10 hours of daylight during the winter months, and it’s worth noting that South Dakota is divided into two time zones – Mountain and Central.

south dakota vacation

What to pack for your South Dakota Vacation

It mostly depends on what time of year you’re visiting and the activities you plan on doing, but for the most part, the items below belong in your bag.

1. Camera

South Dakota is home to some spectacular attractions including Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and the world’s only “corn palace.” It’s also home to some incredible state and national parks including Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and our personal favorite, the beautiful Black Hills National Forest. You’ll see some amazing things in South Dakota, so bring your camera to capture the moments!

2. Comfortable, Casual Attire

Especially during the winter and summer months when temperatures are most extreme, it’s essential to pack warm clothing. We recommend packing layers, so you’re never caught off guard on those cooler mornings and evenings. Shorts and sandals are musts during July and August, and hats, gloves, and boots are musts during January and February. South Dakota is pretty laid back, so you can leave your fanciest duds at home.

3. Essentials for the Elements

A light rain jacket and/or umbrella are recommended for spring, summer, and even fall vacations. Starting in November and running through March, you’ll probably want to pack your winter jacket as well as winter accessories to keep your feet, hands, and face warm. Before you decide to pack your snow boots, check the forecast because chances are, you may not need them. Sun protection is also necessary – especially during the summer months and at high altitudes and the eastern part of the state. South Dakota is one of the top five windiest states in the U.S., so we also recommend packing a windbreaker.

4. Activewear/Gear

South Dakota is an underrated, oft-overlooked paradise for people who love outdoor recreation and activities. Hiking boots are a must if you plan on hiking up Harney Peak, the highest point peak east of the Rockies. If biking the historic 109-mile Mickelson trail is on your list of things to do, you’ll want to pack your cycling gear (bike rentals are available along the path).

south dakota vacation 2

Travel Tips for Visiting South Dakota

We’ve been leading South Dakota vacations for many years now, and we’re happy to share what we’ve learned from our experience. See below for a few pointers that you may want to keep in mind as you’re planning your trip.

1. Spend the Night at Mount Rushmore

While you may think that the best time to visit Mount Rushmore is first thing in the morning before the tour buses arrive, the evening lighting ceremony that is held mid-May through the end of September at sunset is a very moving experience – especially if you are a veteran.

2. Fan of Kevin Costner? Eat at Jake’s!

If “Dances of Wolves” is one of your favorite movies, you need to check out Kevin Costner’s restaurant, Jake’s, in the town of Deadwood. Not only is the food fantastic, but the decor features vintage movie posters and costumes and memorabilia from Costner’s most famous films.

3. Allow Time for Roadside Attractions

Odd and unusual roadside attractions are everywhere in South Dakota! If you have the flexibility, build an extra hour or two into your schedule, so you have time to pull over and check out things like the Dinosaur Park, Petrified Wood Park, 1880 Cowboy Town and whatever else you encounter on the side of the road. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of signs pointing the way!

4. Expect Higher Room Rates During Sturgis

Around 500,000 people attend the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held every August, and hotels usually increase their room rates a few days before, during, and after the week-long rally. And don’t expect to find an available room at the last minute. Hotels sell out months in advance and rooms can be tough to come by, even in Sioux City which is almost 400 miles from Sturgis!

South Dakota Vacations FAQs

Do you recommend buying travel insurance?

As an Austin Adventures traveler, it’s highly recommended you take out travel insurance to cover the likes of travel delays, missed connections, medical expenses or injury, or lost baggage for your travel with us. Please head to our Travel Protection page for more in-depth information and our recommended insurance provider.

What's included on your North America trips?

Accommodation

We've spent years finding places to stay that are quaint, perfectly-located, and comfortable when we take you to the most amazing parts of North America. We offer a wide variety of accommodations on our trips ranging from locally run inns and first-class hotels to resorts, dude ranches and historic national park cabins. Accommodations are selected for their location, unique charm and history, and offer a true feel for the region. We strongly believe in the value of a good night's sleep and our accommodation reflects this. We also like to have somewhere comfortable to relax after the day's activities.

Transport

We're really focused on ensuring that we spend as little time as possible sitting in vehicles, and that we optimise your vacation for adventuring in the great outdoors. Our average driving time is just over two hours a day, and we make plenty of stops for bathroom breaks and sightseeing along the way. We use modern, comfortable 15-passenger vans for all of our transfers and a second van is added to most departures to provide more flexibility and more room to spread out while seeing the sights! Make no mistake - our trips are not typical bus tour vacation packages! Picture more of a road trip with family complete with good music, tasty snacks, and plenty of guide-supplied fun facts along the way to keep you entertained!

Meals

Just about all your meals are included when you travel with Austin Adventures in North America. We provide a wide variety of cuisine - breakfasts are typically eaten at your hotel on your own time in the morning before meeting up with the group. Lunches feature everything from elaborate picnics to roadside cafes to sandwiches trailside. Dinners are usually eaten at our hotel's dining room or a local restaurant with plenty of options to choose from. We easily cater to vegetarians, picky kids, and people with particular dietary needs. All our guides have food safety certificates and are well-practiced in the art of food prep and serving while on-the-move. You'll find the meals are a real highlight of your trip!

All Guiding Services

Each trip features two or three incredible guides and our average guest to guide ratio is 6:1. Our guests are often drawn to North America by the beautiful scenic landscapes, promise of wilderness and clean air - and there's no doubt you'll find all that, though what you may not be expecting is to forge real, genuine friendships with your fellow tripmates, including our wonderful guides. They're hands-down the BEST guides you'll ever come across.

Activities

Any activity described in our itinerary, such as hiking, rafting, horseback riding, kayaking and biking, are included in your trip cost. Our itineraries are pretty jam-packed to maximize our time spent exploring in these amazing places, and your guides will make it clear if there are additional activities available (at your expense).

How many people are there on each of our North America trips?

We get a real variety of people on our trips and they all seem to have one thing in common – a love of the outdoors! Our trips can accommodate up to 22 guests, depending on each departure. Our adult-only departures require a minimum age of 16 years and generally feature a mix of singles, couples and friends, and our family departures require a minimum age of 6 years to join (7 years on our Alaska Family Adventure) and are a great way to meet other like-minded families who like to get outside.
Please note child rates apply to children 12 years and under.

Do you charge a forced single supplement if I'm a solo traveller?

We regularly accommodate single guests on our group trips and there’s no forced single supplement if you don’t mind sharing a room (you might even get a room to yourself sometimes). If you prefer not to share a room at all, you can upgrade to a single room.
PLEASE NOTE: If you book within 90 days and you’re a Forced single, you’ll be required to pay for your own room.

If I book a trip with my children, will I be sharing a room with them?

Active Adventures & Austin Adventures family vacations are naturally about spending time with family and as such, most families opt to share rooms on our trips. At time of booking, families consisting of four guests with children aged 17 and under will be automatically assigned one shared room. However, the following alternative rooming allocations are available:

  • Families consisting of four guests with all children aged 13 and above are welcome to opt for additional rooms as per advertised double occupancy adult rates.
  • Families consisting of four guests with at least one child aged 12 and under are automatically assigned a shared room. However, families can opt to pay the adult rates for all guests in their family to have an additional room.
  • The same principles apply for families consisting of more than four guests.

Rooming preferences are subject to availability and must be communicated in writing at time of booking. Automatic assignments as per this policy will be applied in the absence of any specification provided by guests. Any request for additional rooms during trips will be at the guests’ own expense and subject to rates made available by the accommodation provider at the time. All minors (guests aged 17 and under) must be accompanied by at least one adult.

What if I need a special diet?

We’re accustomed to catering to the following special diets:

  • vegan (no meat or animal products)
  • vegetarian (no meat products)
  • pescatarian (vegetarian, and eat fish)
  • no red meat (eat chicken & fish)
  • no pork (eat chicken & fish)
  • gluten intolerant (no wheat, rye, barley or oats)
  • lactose intolerant (no dairy products)
  • picky kids (send us a list of what your child will eat and we'll make sure to have it!)
You will get the opportunity to specify your particular requirements when you fill in your travel wallet. If you have any other dietary requirements please let us know well in advance, via email or the online travel wallet.

 

How much luggage can I bring on the North America trips?

You'll need one piece of luggage, plus a daypack. Your main piece of luggage can be a soft sided duffel or a suitcase with wheels, and you'll need a good quality 18-24 liter daypack to carry with you throughout the days on the trails.

As far as extra luggage goes, if there's not too much (such as one small extra bag per person) then it shouldn't be a problem to fit it in our luggage trailer during the trip. If you've got more than that, then all major airports have luggage facilities available on a weekly basis, or if you are staying at a pre-trip hotel they may be able to store it for you until you return too.

How much spending money should I bring and where do I get cash?

You'll be able to find a reliable ATM once you arrive to start your trip, within the township or at the airport you land in, as national park ATM locations are sparse at best. Aside from tips for your guides, you could bring $200 and go home with change though some people like to bring some cash to cover a round of drinks, a few souvenirs, and dinner on "night on your own", although you could just as easily use a credit card for these purchases too.

What are your recommended guide gratuity guidelines?

You will have 2-3 guides on your Austin Adventure (depending on group size) and we recommend $15-25 per day, per guest, per guide. Typically, gratuities are offered by check or cash in local currency on the final morning of the trip and can either be given to each guide individually or to one guide to be equally distributed. Most of our guides these days also accept gratuities via Venmo (please note this app does not work in Canada). All dining, housekeeping and activity tips are included in your trip price.

Is there a number to call in an emergency? How can my family, friends or colleagues contact me

Please contact our office using the details below. If the office is unattended (outside of business hours), dial the extension for the emergency line. If no one immediately responds, please leave a message so we can pick it up and return your call as soon as we can.
Free phone 1 800 661 9073
Email: service@austinadventures.com

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South Dakota Vacation Tips and Adventure Blogs

Why Travel With US

benefit group size

Just-right group sizes allow you to get off the beaten path

With an average of 12 guests per departure and an industry-leading 6:1 guest-to-guide ratio, you’ll enjoy a highly personalized experience with the perspective of an insider.

benefit guides

Award-winning guides lead the way

It’s so much easier to relax and enjoy your adventure when you have fun, caring guides who know the land, are experts in motivation, sweat all the details and whip up incredible meals, too!

benefit inclusive

You’ll never need to sweat the details

When we say all inclusive, we mean it! Meals and snacks, activities, lodging, transportation, guiding services and more. Every detail is handled; all you need to do is show up!

benefit safety

Enjoy freedom to push your boundaries – safely

Every aspect of your trip is thoroughly considered for your safety, from highly vetted vendors and well-maintained equipment to extensively trained guides and our seasoned operations team at headquarters.

benefit family

Decades of expertise mean you’ll experience only the best

Family travel and North American National Parks are our specialty. We’ve perfected our itineraries and sustained relationships for decades, ensuring you'll experience your destination to the fullest.

benefit wow

"Wow Moments” take your trip from enjoyable to extraordinary

For us, the extra mile is never extra, it’s part of the way! Count on special touches throughout your trip that will amplify your experience. If we’ve done our job, they’ll have you saying “wow!”