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South Dakota

The Best of Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills and Badlands

Program No. 13160RJ
Discover South Dakota’s beautiful Black Hills and Badlands, where bison mosey through roadside meadows and hand-carved mountains tower over vast stretches of untouched wilderness.
Length
7 days
Rating (4.94)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,799

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 30 - May 6, 2023
Starting at
1,799
May 7 - May 13, 2023
Starting at
1,799
May 14 - May 20, 2023
Starting at
2,249
May 21 - May 27, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Jun 4 - Jun 10, 2023
Starting at
1,899
Jun 25 - Jul 1, 2023
Starting at
2,349
Jul 16 - Jul 22, 2023
Starting at
1,899
Jul 23 - Jul 29, 2023
Starting at
2,349
Jul 30 - Aug 5, 2023
Starting at
1,899
Aug 13 - Aug 19, 2023
Starting at
2,349
Aug 20 - Aug 26, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Aug 27 - Sep 2, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Sep 3 - Sep 9, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Sep 10 - Sep 16, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Sep 17 - Sep 23, 2023
Starting at
2,249
Sep 24 - Sep 30, 2023
Starting at
1,849
Itinerary Note

This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup.

Sep 25 - Oct 1, 2023
Starting at
1,849
Itinerary Note

This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup.

Sep 26 - Oct 2, 2023
Starting at
2,049
Itinerary Note

This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup and lodging at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City.

Sep 27 - Oct 3, 2023
Starting at
2,049
Itinerary Note

This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup and lodging at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 30 - May 6, 2023
Starting at
2,349
May 7 - May 13, 2023
Starting at
2,349
May 14 - May 20, 2023
Starting at
2,809
May 21 - May 27, 2023
Starting at
2,349
Jun 4 - Jun 10, 2023
Starting at
2,519
Jun 25 - Jul 1, 2023
Starting at
2,979
Jul 16 - Jul 22, 2023
Starting at
2,519
Jul 23 - Jul 29, 2023
Starting at
2,979
Jul 30 - Aug 5, 2023
Starting at
2,519
Aug 13 - Aug 19, 2023
Starting at
2,979
Aug 20 - Aug 26, 2023
Starting at
2,349
Aug 27 - Sep 2, 2023
Starting at
2,349
Sep 3 - Sep 9, 2023
Starting at
2,349
Sep 10 - Sep 16, 2023
Starting at
2,349
Sep 17 - Sep 23, 2023
Starting at
2,809
Sep 24 - Sep 30, 2023
Starting at
2,399
Itinerary Note

This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup.

Sep 25 - Oct 1, 2023
Starting at
2,399
Itinerary Note

This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup.

Sep 26 - Oct 2, 2023
Starting at
2,619
Itinerary Note

This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup and lodging at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City.

Sep 27 - Oct 3, 2023
Starting at
2,619
Itinerary Note

This date includes a Special Event: Custer State Park's Annual Buffalo Roundup and lodging at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City.

At a Glance

The land now shadowed by Mount Rushmore was, up until the 1870s, called the "last great unknown." Enrich your understanding of American growth in this vast wilderness as you immerse yourself in the discovery of Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Badlands National Park and The Mammoth Site. Study the lives of gold seekers and sod busters, and discover the Old West before a handful of presidents made it famous.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to one mile on varied terrain; some stairs. Elevations range from 4,300 to 5,200 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Expand your mind at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park.
  • Experience the otherworldly moon-like landscape of spectacular Badlands National Park.
  • Discover an active paleontological dig site, which boasts the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world!

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less. For a more active outdoor program in the Black Hills, see program #12774.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
John Esposti
Born and raised in central New Jersey, John Esposti made the decision at five years of age to go out west and meet his destiny. At 18, he enrolled at the University of Idaho and received a degree in education. He then moved to Valdez, Alaska to teach woodworking, drafting and electronics. After four years of working and experiencing all sorts of adventures in a wild and amazing land, he climbed onto a sailboat and sailed off into the sunset bound for Hawaii, and later attended the University of Hawaii. After marrying his wife, Cindy, John returned to the Black Hills to operate a family-run business named Rushmore Cave. After selling the cave business in 2008, John worked for three years at the renowned Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, S.D. Today, he and Cindy are starting a new venture called GeoFunTrek, with a goal to provide stimulating visitor experiences in the form of day-long educational explorations in the Black Hills.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of John Esposti
John Esposti View biography
Born and raised in central New Jersey, John Esposti made the decision at five years of age to go out west and meet his destiny. At 18, he enrolled at the University of Idaho and received a degree in education. He then moved to Valdez, Alaska to teach woodworking, drafting and electronics. After four years of working and experiencing all sorts of adventures in a wild and amazing land, he climbed onto a sailboat and sailed off into the sunset bound for Hawaii, and later attended the University of Hawaii. After marrying his wife, Cindy, John returned to the Black Hills to operate a family-run business named Rushmore Cave. After selling the cave business in 2008, John worked for three years at the renowned Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, S.D. Today, he and Cindy are starting a new venture called GeoFunTrek, with a goal to provide stimulating visitor experiences in the form of day-long educational explorations in the Black Hills.
Profile Image of Stephen Yellowhawk
Stephen Yellowhawk View biography
Stephen Yellowhawk was born on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. He was first inspired to dance by his uncle, Jim Yellowhawk, and has been sharing his talents for traditional dance since he was 14 years old. He is actively pursuing a master’s degree in leadership and management in becoming a leader in Indian education. He is currently employed at the Okiciyapi Wellness Center as a health technician to Native American diabetic patients and serves as the board president for the Black Hills Powwow Association.
Profile Image of Paul Horsted
Paul Horsted View biography
Paul Horsted has been photographing South Dakota’s people and places for more than 30 years. Early in his career, he was a staff photographer at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, and later served as chief photographer at the South Dakota Department of Tourism. Now living in Custer, Paul has been an independent freelance photographer for the past two decades. His work has appeared in publications such as LIFE magazine, Reader's Digest, and Smithsonian, and he's a frequent contributor to South Dakota Magazine. Paul is co-author of the award-winning book, “Exploring With Custer: The 1874 Black Hills Expedition,” and of the more recent book, “The Black Hills Yesterday & Today.” In 2009, Paul and his research partners released a companion volume about the 1874 Custer Expedition's travels to and from the Black Hills, entitled, “Crossing the Plains With Custer.”
Profile Image of Donna Fisher
Donna Fisher View biography
Donna Fisher loves the Mountain West. She spent 13 years in school libraries, 12 years as a classroom teacher of English and journalism, and was named both South Dakota English Teacher of the Year and South Dakota Librarian of the Year. Her love for regional writers led to editing the first South Dakota Literary Map and web site as well as a summer as a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. Now retired, she serves on the interpretation and continuity team at the Journey Museum.
Profile Image of Jon Nelson
Jon Nelson View biography
Jon Nelson has been researching the pre-settlement period of the Black Hills region for more than a decade. He’s the co-author of “Crossing the Plains with Custer,” which follows the route of the Custer Expedition as it traveled from Fort Lincoln near Bismark, N.D., some 300 miles to the Blacks Hills. John lives in Rapid City, S.D.
Profile Image of Bill Keck
Bill Keck is a retired extension educator serving 33 years with Pennsylvania State, Colorado State and South Dakota State Universities. He is a very active volunteer in the Rapid City community, dedicating his time to the Chamber of Commerce, Urban Wildlife and Forestry Board, Rapid City schools, Cosmopolitan service club and his local church. Bill has run a Master Gardener program for many years and has been a regular speaker on local radio programs. Bill is married with three grown children and five grandchildren.
Profile Image of Jean-Claire Hamblin
Jean-Claire Hamblin View biography
Somewhat after the Paleozoic Era when the Black Hills were being formed, in a town north of the Black Hills racetrack, a baby girl was born. Not wanting her to have a simple name others could easily forget, her parents named her Jean-Claire, after a friend. Jean-Claire graduated from Belle Fourche High School, then went on to earn degrees in social work, psychology and sociology from the University of South Dakota, with stops at the University of San Francisco, San Diego State University and Augustana College. She raised four fine children and is grandma to six grandchildren. After retiring as the Community School Coordinator at the only community school in South Dakota, time now allows for tennis, volleyball, a book club, church choir and, occasionally, travels.
Profile Image of Karen Raben
Karen Raben View biography
Having grown up in the Black Hills area — and now residing here again since her retirement — Karen Raben loves to share the rich history of South Dakota with visitors to the region. Karen and her husband, Tim, have traveled and lived throughout the Midwest, Connecticut and New York while running a consulting business. With a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota and a master’s from Connecticut Western State University, Karen also pursued a career in education. Now back in Rapid City, she welcomes lifelong learners to the wonders of the Badlands and Black Hills.
Profile Image of Michael Snyder
Michael Snyder View biography
Michael Snyder grew up on a family-owned cattle ranch in the Black Hills, where he helped herd cattle, cut hay, and fix fence. He attended South Dakota State University and landed an internship as a legislative aide for the South Dakota State Legislature. He then participated in an International Study Abroad Program in Florence, Italy, and graduated after another internship for his U.S. Senator in Washington, D.C. Michael works as a group leader, substitute teacher, basketball referee, and continues to help out on the ranch.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Cowboy Life: The Letters of George Philip
by George Philip and Cathie Draine
As a young man, George Philip emigrated from Scotland to escape a harsh apprenticeship. In 1899, he arrived on the doorstep of his uncle, James (“Scotty”) Philip, patriarch of one of South Dakota’s foremost ranching families. For the next four years, Philip rode as a cowboy for his uncle’s L-7 cattle outfit during the heyday of the last open range. But the cowboy era was a brief one, and in 1903 Philip turned in his string of horses and hung up his saddle to enter law school in Michigan. With a law degree in hand, he returned to South Dakota to practice in the wide-open western towns of Fort Pierre, Philip, and Rapid City. In these candid letters, Philip tells his children that his life was an ordinary one, but his memoirs quickly dispel that notion. He provides fascinating insights into the development of the West and of South Dakota. His writing details the cowboy’s day-to-day work, from branding and roping to navigating across the plains by stars and buttes as the great open ranges slowly closed up. The places and characters of the range find life in Philip’s mixture of humor, hard-nosed “horse-sense," and poignant reflection.
Moon of Popping Trees
by Rex Alan Smith
The Massacre at Wounded Knee was the last major battle between whites and Native Americans.With parallels to concerns some have of today’s news reports, you’ll see that this massacre was largely a result of overblown news reports of the danger of the Native American Ghost Dance. Even more startling is the revelation in this book that the Ghost Dance had its origin in the Christian resurrection story. This book spans fifty years of the life and struggles of Native Americans as they try to maintain their lifestyle in the face of America’s westward expansion.
Exploring with Custer: The 1874 Black Hills Expedition
by Ernest Grafe & Paul Horsted
General George Armstrong Custer's Journey to the Black Hills in 1874 was better documented than any other military expedition of the Old West. Not only did William H. Illingworth record superb views of the landscape and several camps, but at least fifteen men wrote diaries, reports or newspaper dispatches brimming with vivid detail. This book blends the Illingworth photos and their present-day counterparts with selections from all known accounts to paint a unique portrait of everyday life along the trail. Please order through Paul Horsted at www.dakotaphoto.com or 1.800.248.2194
The Carving of Mount Rushmore
by Rex Alan Smith
This entertaining and very readable book tells the fascinating stories of the people of Mt. Rushmore. Included are first person accounts of not only the carvers, the politicians and Borglum, but an almost unbelievable host of others who became part of the tumult and triumph that make this history read like a novel. If you’re only going to read one book about Rushmore, this is the one.
Roadside History of South Dakota
by Linda Hasselstrom
Reading Roadside History of South Dakota is like having a knowledgeable friend explain the most fascinating and pertinent tidbits of the state's past without reciting a lot of boring details. The book's comfortable, conversational style guides readers smoothly along the state's highways and byways. Even those who think they already know South Dakota will can anticipate learning new things from this insightful, informative, yet thoroughly readable and entertaining roadside history. The material is rich, and Linda Hasselstrom reveals it in an exciting way by focusing on the people who made South Dakota what it is today.





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