I'm active and in decent shape and not looking to experience a place just through a bus window. I'm happy to slow down on the trail, soak it in and breathe in the fresh air.
Walking: 2-3 hours per day on gentle-gradient trails.
Other activities: On these trips, you'll be taking part in a range of other activities that focus less on building up a sweat and more on enjoying the finer things in life.
Activity Level 2
On the Move
Sure, I own some hiking boots, they're even worn in, but they don't go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.
Walking: 2-4 hours per day on gentle to moderate gradient trails. No multi-day hikes.
Biking: 1-3 hours, cruisy rides achievable by anyone, even first-timers.Kayaking: 1-3 hours, entry-level sea kayaking with specialist guides and stable boats.
Other activities (i.e. snorkeling): Always optional and very little exertion required. A highlight for many!
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.
Hiking: Typically, 3-6 hours per day on well-formed backcountry trails. Expect some significant gradient inclines and declines.
Altitude: Your trip may include some moderate altitude areas, though these don't form the focus of the trip and are generally manageable.
Biking: 1-3 hours on well-formed paths or roads where you can expect some hills with moderate climbs and descents.
Kayaking: 1-3 hours, entry-level sea kayaking with specialist guides and stable boats.
Other activities (i.e. caving): Always optional and very little exertion required. A highlight for many!
Activity Level 4
I'll let my trusty guides sweat the small things, so I can focus on my goal. Getting to the top, reaching the end, achieving my dreams! Sure, it'll be tough, but the views will be worth it.
Hiking / Trekking: Typically, 4–6-hour hikes with options for more, sometimes with limited or no vehicle support and nearly always with ascents and descents.
Altitude: Some trips at this level will reach a significant altitude. We are here to help you manage that and make your experience one to cherish for a lifetime.
Biking & Kayaking: If one, or both, of these activities are 'your thing,' there are trip options in this range, allowing you to be on two wheels or with a paddle in your hand for most of the day.
Activity Level 5
The Upper Limit
I'm ready to put in the hard work to reap the rewards. I'm a seasoned adventurer, not afraid to get my boots wet.
Trekking & Altitude: This is classic trekking, at altitude. Some might even call it 'expedition-style.' We've had folks from all walks of life achieve their dreams on our grade 5 trips, so if you're in for a challenge get in touch to find out if this is for you.
Set out on a South Dakota family vacation to explore the prairies, pronghorns, and national parks in the spectacular Great Plains of South Dakota.
Experience the best of “the land of infinite variety,” from rolling prairies and glacial lakes to iconic American monuments, including Mount Rushmore and the ever-evolving Crazy Horse Monument. Explore the rambunctious wildlife, pine-studded Black Hills, and dynamic history of South Dakota. Step back in time to the Wild West as you bike, hike, and explore the dusty streets of Deadwood and Wind Cave National Park, one of the world’s most unique national parks. Enjoy the finest in regional accommodations and cuisine as you spend time creating unforgettable memories with the kids and fall in love with the outdoor treats and national treasures of South Dakota. Get to know the many spectacular wonders of this expansive state on this South Dakota family vacation, enjoying the simple pleasures of hanging out with your family and actively exploring its diverse and amazing lands.
This trip is operated by Austin Adventures
Mount Rushmore & Black Hills Family Vacation ~ Itinerary
Trip Start: Rapid City, South DakotaTrip End: Rapid City, South Dakota
Day 1Explore Bear Butte State Park
Day 2Bike Spearfish Canyon, explore Deadwood
Day 3Bike Mickelson Trail, visit Crazy Horse Memorial
Day 4Hike Little Devil's Tower, explore Mount Rushmore
Day 5Top rope climbing on the Black Hills, explore Wind Cave National Park
Day 6Transfer to Rapid City, farewell!
Explore Bear Butte State Park
Begin your vacation by exploring Bear Butte State Park and summit the mountain trail yielding sweeping panoramic views for miles and miles. Experience the Old West and learn why Bear Butte is considered one of the most sacred lands by the Plains Indians. Afterward, we head over to the famous biker town of Sturgis for lunch at a local spot. Load up in the van to travel a short distance away to our home for the next couple nights, Deadwood. We’ll walk the same sidewalks as the likes of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp, and Buffalo Bill, to name just a few. If time permits we will explore the world of gold panning at Golden Boot. Tonight’s dinner is at the Deadwood Social Club. Packed full of history and surrounded by the wild west.
Four Points by Sheraton Deadwood (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Hiking: 4.4 miles (7 kilometers)
Bike Spearfish Canyon, explore Deadwood
Today, we head over to the nearby town of Spearfish for a bike ride through a neat canyon. Enjoy a delicious guide-prepared lunch at a local park. Following lunch, we will walk to the Trout Hatchery where we can learn and explore the Von Bayer Museum or visit the Neo-Colonial Revival Booth House. This afternoon, enjoy some downtime or walk around the Mount Moriah Cemetery where Wild Bill and Calamity Jane were laid to rest; visit one of several of Deadwood’s museums, highlighting life in the days of outlaws, gold panning, and Native American skirmishes; or take an “old-time,” black and white photo at Woody’s Wild West. Dinner in Deadwood. Night on your own for dinner tonight.
Four Points by Sheraton Deadwood (Breakfast, Lunch)
Biking: 20 miles (32 kilometers)
Bike Mickelson Trail, visit Crazy Horse Memorial
After a hearty breakfast, we head to one of the many trailheads of South Dakota’s Mickelson Trail to cycle the historic Deadwood to Edgemont Burlington Northern rail line, which serviced gold country for nearly a century. Regenerate yourselves with a lunch prepared by your guides. After lunch transfer to Crazy Horse for a tour. Still, in progress, the Memorial is destined to be some 10 times the size of Mt Rushmore. This is more than just carvings in stone; it is a compound that will eventually pay tribute to the American Indians and the great Indian Chief, Crazy Horse, housing the Indian Museum of North America, Indian University of North America, and a host of other properties.
Sylvan Lake Lodge (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Biking: 17 miles (27 kilometers)
Hike Little Devil's Tower, explore Mount Rushmore
Today, eat a big breakfast because we have an exciting day ahead of us! From Sylvan Lake, we’ll depart on a neat hike to Little Devil’s Tower. Snake through quaking aspen and Black Hills Spruce to make your way to the granite scramble at the base of the tower. The summit greets you with jaw-dropping views of the Cathedral Spires, Black Elk Wilderness, and the brick fire tower atop 7,242-foot Harvey Peak. This afternoon, we depart for a scenic tour of the Needles Highway on our way to explore Mount Rushmore. Dinner in the historic town of Keystone.
Sylvan Lake Lodge (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Hiking: 3 miles (5 kilometers)
Top rope climbing on the Black Hills, explore Wind Cave National Park
This morning, we will partake in a beginner top rope climbing adventure on the Black Hills granite rock surrounding Sylvan Lake. You’ll have all of the equipment and instruction you need to feel comfortable and safe, even if you’ve never climbed before. Indulge in a delicious picnic lunch back at Sylvan Lake. This afternoon we will take in natural beauty as we transfer to Wind Cave to tour one of the most complex and longest caves in the world. End the afternoon by driving the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park on the lookout for bison, antelope, and wild burros on our way to our final night’s dinner at the State Game Lodge.
Sylvan Lake Lodge (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Rock Climbing: 2 hours
Transfer to Rapid City, farewell!
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the dining room before loading up the van, luggage in tow. Say goodbye to the Black Hills and head back to Rapid City for our farewells.
No Accommodation (Breakfast)
Tour Departure Dates
Discounted child prices are available for children 12-years-old and under.
USD $3499/per adult, USD $3199/per child
Child rates apply for children 12 years and under.
On the first morning of the trip, our two pick-up locations are Alex Johnson Hotel at 8am or the Hampton Inn at 8:20am. You are welcome to stay at any hotel in Rapid City for your pre-night, though you must make your own way to one of the two pick-up points at the pre-designated times.
Where does this trip end?
Your trip ends with a drop-off at either the Rapid City Airport at 12pm in time for flights below or at a hotel of your choice in Rapid City around12:30pm.
What flights would you recommend?
Arrival: We recommend arriving in Rapid City at least the day before your trip starts. Many guests like to arrive a day or two early to accommodate potential flight delays and/or explore the city prior to your trip start.
Departure: Flying out on the last day of the trip, we recommend departing from Rapid City after 1:30pm. Earlier flight times will require a separate transfer booked at your own expense.
Will I have contact with my guides before the trip starts?
Your guides will call your cell phone the night before your trip begins to touch base on the first day’s plan. If they don’t get through to you, they will leave a voicemail on your cell phone with all the details you need to plan for your first morning.
What should I bring with me on the first day?
When you speak with your guides the night before your trip, they will give you a detailed description of what to bring with you on Day 1. Typically, this includes a day pack with your rain jacket, sunglasses, hat, camera, etc. Anything you want easy access to during the day should go in your day pack as the rest of your luggage will go in the locked cargo trailer pulled behind the van. Your guides will provide you with a water bottle on the first morning of your trip and will always have water available for refills. There will be snacks available at all times in the van. Your guides will also have bug spray and sunscreen accessible for you to use.
What are your recommended guide gratuity guidelines?
You will have 2-3 guides on your Austin Adventure (depending on group size). We recommend USD$20 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.
How do rooming arrangements work?
Trip prices are based on shared arrangements (typically two guests per room), unless otherwise stated. For solo travellers, we’ll pair you with another person of the same gender to share rooms and if there’s no one suitable to share with, there’s no forced single supplement. However, if you specifically request your own rooms, you can opt to pay the single supplement. Solo travellers who book within 90 days of departure, where there are no other solo travellers willing to share, will be required to pay the single supplement.
For Family Vacation bookings, families consisting of four guests traveling 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 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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
"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!”