12774
South Dakota

Hike, Kayak & Ride: Black Hills, Badlands & Mount Rushmore

Discover the wildly diverse landscapes in the Black Hills of South Dakota while trekking, riding and kayaking through this unique wilderness that lies in the shadow of Mount Rushmore.
Rating (4.89)
Program No. 12774RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,979
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7 days
6 nights
16 meals
6 B 4 L 6 D
DAY
1
Lodge Check-in, Registration & Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Keystone, South Dakota
D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Lodge check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration 4:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. All lectures and field trips will be led by local experts and Group Leaders. Transportation will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the dining facility at the Lodge, enjoy a dinner buffet with salad, vegetable, entrée, and dessert plus coffee, tea, or water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in to your room, and get a good night’s sleep for the full day tomorrow.

DAY
2
Mount Rushmore, Hike in the Black Hills, Free Evening
Keystone, South Dakota
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Hiking 3 to 5 miles; semi-rugged terrain, maximum elevation 5,350 feet. Hike will require sturdy hiking shoes or boots, a hat, sun screen, day pack and leak-proof water bottle. Minimal motorcoach time today.

Breakfast: In the Lodge dining facility, choose what you like from the tasty breakfast buffet with hot and cold cereals, waffles with fruit topping, hard-boiled eggs, rotating main dishes, pastries, bagels, yogurt, fruit, coffee, tea, milk, and an assortment of juices.

Morning: Under the guidance of our expert Group Leader, we’ll explore the United States’ Shrine of Democracy – Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Danish-American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, the creator of Mount Rushmore, wrote: “The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.” Borglum intended his monumental sculpture to be not only a memorial to four of our greatest Presidents, but a Shrine to Democracy. Why these four? Washington led the nascent United States to win independence from Great Britain. Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence. Roosevelt the “trust buster” ensured the rights of working people and was instrumental in building the Panama Canal. Lincoln led the country through the Civil War. Borglum began work in 1927 and continued until his death in 1941, when his son, Lincoln Borglum, took it on and ended work later that year. If you wish, feel free to expand your exploration of Mount Rushmore with an independent short walk on a portion of the Presidential Trail to Borglum’s studio. Interpretive signage along the way will illuminate more about the monument, its construction, and the artist whose vision produced one of America’s most iconic symbols.

Lunch: At the Lodge, the lunch buffet includes a choice of soups or salads and sandwiches plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: With our Group Leader, we will hike one of the many beautiful trails in the Black Hills and learn more about the ecology, history, flora, fauna and wildlife of this unique area.

Dinner: Lodge buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Hike & Horseback Riding in Custer State Park
Keystone, South Dakota
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Hiking 3 miles; semi-rugged terrain at an elevation gain of 250 feet. Hike will require sturdy hiking shoes or boots, a hat, sun screen, day pack and leak-proof water bottle. Driving about 1.5 hours with expert interpretation en route and stops along the way to take in beautiful scenery. Horseback riding will be an easy trail ride accommodating novice and first-time riders. Long pants and tennis shoes required for riding; helmets available.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: This morning we will venture into Custer State Park. General Custer’s men found gold here in the summer of 1874, setting off a swarm of illegal settlers into the area. The park’s pine forests, grassy meadows and towers of granite offer spectacular views while also providing a remarkable, lush sanctuary for the park’s four-legged residents. Nearly 1,500 magnificent bison, along with fleet pronghorn, elusive elk, sure-footed mountain goats and a band of begging burrows freely roam the park’s sprawling 71,000 acres. We'll traverse the Wild Life Loop road in search of these majestic creatures. At the end of the Wildlife Loop, with our expert Group Leaders, we'll hike Prairie Trail and begin to gain an understanding of western mix grass prairies and the flora and fauna that relish in it.

Lunch: Enjoy the views of Custer State Park as you picnic outdoors complete with sandwich, chips, fruit, and bottle water.

Afternoon: This afternoon we'll discover the southern portion of Custer State Park with an hour long horseback ride, led by expert wranglers, through lush backcountry. The ride consists of the horses going at a slow walk and is accommodating to first time and novice riders. Return via motorcoach to the Lodge in Keystone.

Dinner: Lodge buffet.

Evening: With a local expert, we’ll learn more about natural and human history of the Black Hills.

DAY
4
Hike in Badlands National Park, Natural History Presentation
Keystone, South Dakota
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: The drive to Badlands National Park is about 1.5 hours with expert interpretation en route and stops along the way to take in beautiful scenery. Hiking 2 to 3 miles; uneven terrain at an elevation of 3,000 feet. Hiking in Badlands National Park will require sturdy hiking shoes or boots, a hat, sun screen, day pack and leak-proof water bottle.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: With our expert Group Leaders, we will explore the rugged beauty of Badlands National Park, hiking on designated park trails. The Lakota gave this land its name, “mako sica,” meaning “land bad.” An inland sea covered this area 68-77 million years ago. Erosion of the Badlands over the last 75 million years revealed sedimentary layers of vivid colors resulting from different minerals and elements left from volcanic ash carried here by the wind from other parts of the world. Today, the 244,000 acres of mystical moon-like topography of spires and pinnacles surrounded by a sea of grass are inhabited by buffalo, deer, antelope, prairie dogs, and much more.

Lunch: At a popular restaurant in the heart of Badlands National Park, enjoy a menu option entrée with water, tea and coffee included.

Afternoon: Returning to the Lodge, the remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: Lodge buffet.

Evening: A local expert will captivate us with stories and historic accounts of the local culture, peoples, and traditions.

DAY
5
Bicycle Ride, Crazy Horse Memorial, Evening Presentation
Keystone, South Dakota
B,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Bicycling distance and time, based on personal preference, may be anywhere from 2 to 10 miles or up to 3 hours. Miles biked will not exceed a 4 percent grade. The Mickelson trail is an old railroad bed converted to a hiking and biking trail made of crushed limestone & smooth gravel. Walking the trail instead of bicycling is also an option. Driving approximately 1.5 hours total today.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We'll travel North of Hill City to the Mickelson Trail where each of us will be furnished a personally fitted bicycle to ride on a truly unique Black Hills trail according to personal preference. In addition to the bike, everyone will also have a helmet, flat tire repair kit, a place to hold a water bottle, and any instruction or advice needed from expert bicyclists. Walking the trail instead of bicycling it is also an option. The Mickelson Trail was originally the Burlington Northern line that took trains from the southern Black Hills to the northern gold mining towns of the Black Hills. The line was abandoned in 1983. A group of outdoor enthusiasts recognized the trails potential, and with support of then Governor Mickelson, it became the state’s first Rails-to-Trails project. We'll ride from the Red Fern Trail Head to Mystic. This portion of the trail is level with a slight downhill grade. The trail meanders through pine forests, colorful meadows, rock canyons and wooden train tunnels.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in down town Hill City. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: In 1939, Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too." In response, and without federal funding, Ziolkowski set out to create a memorial to the history and heritage of Native Americans, personified by Chief Crazy Horse. He began carving the mountain in 1948 and worked on the project until his death in 1982. His family continues the dream as work progresses on the world's largest mountain sculpture that still uses no tax dollars and is funded privately through a non-profit organization. When completed, the Crazy Horse Memorial will be the largest outdoor sculpture in the world: 641 feet long and 563 feet high. Led by an expert, we’ll enjoy a visit around Crazy Horse's Museums while learning about its campus that serves as a repository for Native American artifacts, arts, and crafts and the Native American Educational & Cultural Center. Return via motorcoach to the Lodge in Keystone.

Dinner: Lodge buffet.

Evening: Led by a local expert, we’ll take a unique look into the colorful past of those who blazed the trail expanding the western frontier.

DAY
6
Hike in Northern Custer State Park, Kayak and Final Banquet
Keystone, South Dakota
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Hiking 3 miles; semi-rugged terrain at an elevation over 6,000 feet. Hike will require sturdy hiking shoes or boots, a hat, sun screen, day pack and leak-proof water bottle. Kayaking on a small lake. Motorcoach drives up to 1 hour.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: This morning we'll travel to the northern section of Custer State Park. With our expert Group Leaders, we'll hike along the Little Devils Tower trail with expansive vistas of Black Elk Peak (the highest point east of the Rockies), the rolling Black Hills and Cathedral Spires. Along the way, we'll learn more of the park's history, the wildlife that call it home, and forest ecology.

Lunch: At the popular Lodge in Custer State Park, we’ll have a plated and served meal.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll experience the spectacular solitude of Sylvan Lake where novice and experienced kayakers alike will explore the majestic beauty of the lake in single or double kayaks (with instruction for those who have not kayaked previously). Granite outcroppings rise from the waters and shoreline.

Dinner: Lodge buffet. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Keystone, South Dakota
B

Activity note: Check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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