Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

One Tank Trip for South Dakota Camping

Total mileage / average drive time:
135 miles – 2 hours, 47 minutes
Offering an exquisite balance of scenic beauty and cultural heritage, South Dakota has more than enough to offer those seeking a restful getaway, outdoor adventure or some fascinating historical enlightenment. Some of the most notorious Wild West figures in history have breezed through and left their mark in South Dakota, luckily, you don’t have to search too hard to catch a glimpse of them.

Rapid City
Centrally located in the beautiful Black Hills, Rapid City is where you can get your heart pumping while hiking through Ponderosa Pine forests both in and around the city on a variety of trails ranging in length and intensity. If you really want to get your ticker pumping, there are nearly 6,000 miles of fire trails, logging roads and abandoned railroad grades perfect for exploration and exercise. When you’re ready to do a little sightseeing, head to historic downtown where you’ll find a wealth of notable buildings, shops and wonderful restaurants to keep you busy for a few hours, or just sit on a bench and people watch for a while. Just west of downtown is the city’s West Boulevard Historic District, where you can continue your tour amongst some of the finest late 19th century structures which you can explore via walking tour.

20.9 miles – 25 minutes
From Rapid City let’s make our way to Keystone by heading south on US-16A for about 21 miles. Keystone is the closest town to one of this nation’s most treasured attractions; Mount Rushmore just a hop, skip and a jump away. We have to warn you—seeing it on TV is one thing, but up close, you get a whole different perspective as to the enormous size of this attraction which is sure to make your jaw hit the floor in awe. Close to Mount Rushmore you’ll discover Rushmore Cave, an ancient Black Hills’ treasure buried beneath the earth’s surface with winding passages, delicate stalagmites rise from the rock floor and hanging from the ceiling. This cave has been 60 million years in the making and a great example of just how incredible Mother Nature can be. If you can handle some tight spaces, take the 2 hour tour through some of the tightest spaces in the cave in an area most don’t have the sense of adventure to explore. It’s of interest to note, Black Hills are home to the 2nd largest cave system in the US with many of them having been discovered by accident. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover one during your adventures and get to name it after yourself! Within a short distance of Mount Rushmore you’ll find the National Presidential Wax Museum, a good place to stop if you want to keep above ground. Both fascinating and informative, you can gain a good deal of insight on our nation’s democracy through life-like, life-sized wax figures along a self-guided tour.

26.1 miles – 35 minutes
From Keystone, return to US-16A, continuing south for the 26 mile trip into Custer. Touted as the oldest established town of the Black Hills, Custer is also referred to as the “mother city” and was once the site of the major encampment of the Black Hills Expedition of General George Armstrong Custer, for whom the town is named for. It was also the location of the first public discovery of gold, which created a huge boom of prospectors. It’s hard to say if there is still gold in them hills, but what you can find here is some of the most picturesque scenery in the country. Make your way to Custer State Park and you’ll find endless ways to enjoy the spectacular scenery and endless opportunities for adventure. From trail rides to cookout adventures, the park is a popular destination for visitors. Within a short distance of this amazing park you’ll have ready access to Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument. Yes, you might want to park that rig a while and enjoy everything this area has in store for you!

Hot Springs
31.2 miles – 40 minutes
When you’re ready to get back on the road, take US-385S for 31 miles to our last stop, Hot Springs. If you over did it way back in Rapid City on the bike trails or maybe bit off more than you could chew cave spelunking in Keystone, Hot Springs is the perfect spot for you! This tiny little town has been a popular tourist stop for its warm and soothing mineral springs since before it even was a town! Some of you might also remember Hot Springs getting national attention in the mid-70s when several mammoth remains were found. The site is now a working paleontological site/museum containing the largest concentration of Wooly Mammoths ever found in the world. Watch as volunteers and staff work on preserving fossils removed from the sinkhole or peruse the many exhibitions located here or watch the kiddies do a junior dig. It’s a great place the whole family will enjoy.

Check out the 2011 One Tank Trip For South Dakota
Check out the 2010 One Tank Trip For South Dakota
Woodall's Recommended Campgrounds in South Dakota

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