The best time to visit Rapid City is during the summer in the months of July and August when temperatures range from warm to hot. As many of the local attractions are outdoors, these months are the ideal time to visit. Holidaying in the shoulder season however can mean saving money as well as experiencing fewer crowds at Mount Rushmore. Snow can occur anytime from early October to mid-May so those who want to travel in the shoulder season should aim for June or September. The major holidays are Independence Day on the 4th July and Labour Day on the 1st September. During these holidays accommodation will be harder to find and no doubt more costly.
Nestled at the foot of the Black Hills, the All-American town of Rapid City is famous for its proximity to Mount Rushmore. The area boasts a huge amount of Native American heritage and the city itself is surrounded by the jaw dropping landscape of the Great Plains.
The Black Hills National Forest is a vast expanse of mountains that include Mount Rushmore itself which is found some 25 miles (40 km) from the centre of Rapid City. The iconic mountain etching of the four presidents; Roosevelt, Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington is even more awe inspiring on a close up visit. In addition to Rushmore, the Black Hills is home to the world’s largest mountain carving, the Crazy Horse Memorial which has been under construction for over 60 years. The memorial encompasses a visitors’ centre which houses the Native American Cultural and Education Centre and the Indian Museum of North America. The Black Hills National Forest is also home to Custer State Park, which is one of the best places to see far reaching views across the mountain range along with herds of buffalo and bison. Wind Cave National Park can be found to the south of Custer State Park and is home to one of the world’s largest and most complex caves.
Thanks to its development as a major tourist spot due to its proximity to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, Rapid City boasts a large number of attractions given the size of the city. These include the fascinating Museum of Geology and The Journey Museum, a unique visitor centre comprised of seven acres of gardens that chart the history of the Black Hills.
Rapid City is also home to many statues and sculptures including the ‘City of Presidents’ collection of bronze sculptures which include all US presidents and can be found on street corners around the whole city centre area. Those with families will also need to find time in their itinerary for Dinosaur Park, a free attraction home to seven life-size concrete dinosaurs, Storybook Island and the Flintstones Bedrock City theme park.
The easiest way to travel to the biggest attractions including Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial is via one of many tour operators. The centre of the city itself can be navigated on foot or via the public bus service which covers the city.
Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) is nine miles (6km) from the city centre. The simplest way to get into town is via the public airport shuttle service which connects with each arriving flight. Passengers can ask to be dropped off anywhere in Rapid City or the Black Hills area.