loading spinner
South Dakota

Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse & the Badlands With Your Family

Program No. 4752RJ
Enjoy a classic American adventure with your family as you visit the epic monuments of the Black Hills, ride horses, dig for fossils, pan for gold, look for buffalo and much more!

Enroll with Confidence

We want your Road Scholar learning adventure to be something to look forward to—not worry about. Learn more

Protecting the Environment

We offset a portion of the emissions created by your travel. Learn more

Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
Age 8 - 18
ROOMING OPTION PRICING
The figures below indicate the rooming options available.
DATES
Jun 17 - Jun 22, 2024
Per Adult
1,999
Per Child
1,199
Select
Jun 17 - Jun 22, 2024
1,999
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
1,999
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
2,499
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
Select Date
Jun 24 - Jun 29, 2024
Per Adult
1,999
Per Child
1,199
Select
Jun 24 - Jun 29, 2024
1,999
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
1,999
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
2,499
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
Select Date
Filling Fast!
Jul 15 - Jul 20, 2024
Per Adult
1,999
Per Child
1,199
Select
Jul 15 - Jul 20, 2024
1,999
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
1,999
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
2,499
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
Limited Space

At a Glance

Did you know that most of the 400 men and women who carved out the presidential faces of Mount Rushmore were miners who came to the Black Hills looking for gold? Did you know that they used dynamite and jackhammers to carve the faces? And did you know that they had a pretty good amateur baseball team? Learn all about the history and significance of Mount Rushmore and the massive Crazy Horse Memorial on a trip with your family to South Dakota! Go horseback riding, splash in a historic warm water spring, visit a mammoth sink hole and learn how to pan for gold. And at the end of a day of adventure, share stories around an open fire while you learn, laugh and create memories for both generations.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 2 miles on uneven, hilly terrain. Optional 1-hour horseback trail ride. Ability to sit on wheeled sled with self-regulating speed. Walking through museums with seating available. The ability to get on and off a motor coach. Some standing during interpretive lessons. Elevations up to 5,200 feet.
Family Programs
Family Programs
Share your love of learning with your family. These programs are designed for any combination of generations: grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and children.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Take a chair lift up to a ridge for a special view of Mount Rushmore and feel the wind in your hair as you zip back down on the Alpine slide!
  • Saddle up for a Western trail ride, and discover ancient fossils and lunar-like deposits in the Badlands.
  • Experience Custer State Park’s “wildlife loop” in search of buffalo, pronghorns, begging burros and big horn sheep.

General Notes

This is a Family program for participants, their adult children and grandchildren ages 8 and up. For a comparable intergenerational adventure for just grandparents and grandchildren, check out "Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse & the Badlands With Your Grandchild" (#15968).
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Robert Gerald Yellowhawk
Robert Gerald Yellowhawk is a native South Dakotan, born in Rapid City. His goal as a youth was to graduate from high school, and now he is a sophomore at Oglala Lakota College in Rapid City, majoring in business administration. A participant as a sixth-grader in the Ateyapi Program, he is now a fulltime mentor helping youths understand traditional Native American dance, values, regalia, ceremonies and the Lakota language. Robert worked two summers at Crazy Horse Memorial.

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

Profile Image of Robert Yellowhawk
Robert Gerald Yellowhawk View biography
Robert Gerald Yellowhawk is a native South Dakotan, born in Rapid City. His goal as a youth was to graduate from high school, and now he is a sophomore at Oglala Lakota College in Rapid City, majoring in business administration. A participant as a sixth-grader in the Ateyapi Program, he is now a fulltime mentor helping youths understand traditional Native American dance, values, regalia, ceremonies and the Lakota language. Robert worked two summers at Crazy Horse Memorial.
Profile Image of Erin Woods
Erin Woods View biography
Erin Woods is an elementary teacher in the Rapid City School District. With a keen interest in Mount Rushmore history, she enthusiastically relates how Mount Rushmore was carved and how the architects and carvers were able to keep the head of George Washington in proportion to Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt. Erin has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis in math and educational technology.
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.
Pioneer Days in the Black Hills
by John S. McClintock
A rough-and-tumble account of the early days of Deadwood and the Dakota Territory written by early day pioneer John S.McClintock. He provides material on the gold rush, skirmishes with Indians, exploits of road agents and outlaws, and appearances of celebrities such as Wild Bill Hickok and Deadwood Dick.
Crazy Horse and Custer: Born Enemies
by S.D. Nelson
With photographs and stunning illustrations from acclaimed author-artist S.D. Nelson, this thrilling double biography juxtaposes the lives of two enemies whose conflict changed American history: Crazy Horse and George Custer In 1876, Lakota chief Crazy Horse helped lead his people's resistance against the white man's invasion of the northern Great Plains. One of the leaders of the US military forces was Army Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. The men had long been enemies. At the height of the war, when tribalism had reached its peak, they crossed paths for the last time. In this action-packed double biography, S. D. Nelson draws fascinating parallels between Crazy Horse and Custer, whose lives were intertwined. These warriors were alike in many ways, yet they often collided in deadly rivalry. Witness reports and reflections by their peers and enemies accompany side-by-side storytelling that offers very different perspectives on the same historical events. The two men's opposing destinies culminated in the infamous Battle of the Greasy Grass, as the Lakota called it, or the Battle of the Little Bighorn, as it was called by the Euro-Americans. In Crazy Horse and Custer, Nelson's gripping narrative and signature illustration style based on Plains Indians ledger art, along with a mix of period photographs and paintings, shines a light on two men whose conflict forever changed Lakota and US history. The book includes an author's note, timeline, endnotes, and bibliography.
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.
Crazy Horse's Vision
by Joseph Bruchac
Crazy Horse is among the best-known Native American heroes. Yet many people do not know his boyhood name was Curly, inspired by his curly hair. Curly was a leader even as a young boy, taming wild horses and hunting powerful buffalo. But all his bravery could not prepare him for the trouble he and the other Lakota Indians would face with the white settlers. Wanting to help his people after a fierce battle that mortally wounded Chief Conquering Bear, Curly defied traditional custom and risked his own life by running away, up to the hills, to seek a vision. Renowned Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac tells a gripping and compelling story of how the dedicated young boy, Curly, grows into the brave warrior Crazy Horse. Sioux artist S.D. Nelson, with paintings inspired by the ledger book style of the Plains Indians, evokes the drama and tragedy of an important figure in American history.
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.
A Wilder in the West
by William Anderson
One woman’s valiant account of homesteading alone on the prairies near DeSmet, Dakota Territory in the 1880’s. Another wonderful book by William Anderson in his “Laura Ingalls Wilder Family Series.”
Who Carved the Mountain? The Story of Mount Rushmore
by Jean L.S. Patrick
Honorable Mention in the 2006 Independent Publisher Awards in Children’s Books (7 & over). Using historical facts and rollicking rhythm, author Jean L.S. Patrick reveals how and why George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt were chosen. Rich illustrations by Renée Graef make the unique history of Mount Rushmore come alive for children.
Gift Horse: A Lakota Story
by S.D. Nelson
A Lakota boy comes of age and finds his courage in this picture book from award-winning author and illustrator S. D. Nelson When Flying Cloud's father gives him a Gift Horse, marking the beginning of his journey to manhood, Flying Cloud names the horse Storm. The two become inseparable: they spend their days riding across the prairie, hunting deer, and roughhousing with the other boys and their horses. But as Flying Cloud becomes a man, his life takes a serious turn: He must now learn the ways of his people and what it means to be a Lakota warrior. So, when enemies of the Lakota steal many of the tribe's horses--including Storm--Flying Cloud must join the rescue party. Will he prove he has the courage to become a true Warrior? The bold, full-color illustrations bring to life this exciting coming-of-age tale from award-winning creator and member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe S. D. Nelson and provide a unique look into the lives of the Lakota during the nineteenth century. Backmatter includes a brief summary of Lakota history.
A Boy Called Slow
by Joseph Bruchoc
Joseph Bruchac presents a wonderful children’s book about the life of the great Sioux chief Sitting Bull.The historical Indian tale reassures young boys that success comes through effort and not through birth. Wonderfully told and illustrated in true storybook style.
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 3 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Keystone, SD
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 in the lobby to register with the program staff and get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. 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. We will review COVID protocols and will adhere to applicable requirements and guidelines throughout the program. This is a Road Scholar Grandparent program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren at all times. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Minors are never to be left unsupervised. All talks and field trips will be led by local experts and expert Group Leaders. Transportation will be via motorcoach, requiring going up/down a few steps when getting on/off, 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 Lodge dining facility.

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

DAY
2
Custer State Park, Trail Ride, About Rushmore
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 110 miles throughout the day, approximately 3 hours riding time plus stops. Getting on/off horses; riding approximately 1 hour; long pants and boots or tennis shoes required for horseback riding; helmets supplied. Walking about 1/2 mile; dirth path, mountain meadows, pine covered forests.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and kick off our Black Hills learning adventure on a field trip with our Group Leader to Custer State Park. The park covers more than 71,000 acres full of mountains, plains, forests, and wildlife — one of the Top 10 places for wildlife in the world! We’ll stop first at the Visitor Center and explore interactive exhibits to learn about the Park’s history, mysteries, landscapes, and wildlife. We’ll then hop back on the motorcoach and ride along Wildlife Loop Road to look for wild bison (buffalo), burros, prairie dogs, elk, white tail deer, and more.

Lunch: Sack lunch in the field.

Afternoon: At the end of the loop, we’ll “cowboy and cowgirl up” and ride horses on a trail with experienced wranglers. After the ride, we'll return to the Lodge.

Dinner: At the Lodge.

Evening: At the Lodge, we’ll have a fun, hands-on activity to set the stage for our Mount Rushmore field trip tomorrow. We’ll learn how sculptor Gutzon Borglum made small scale models to plan how he would blast and carve huge images out of the mountain. We’ll team up with our families and work together to create our own scale drawing of Mount Rushmore.

DAY
3
Mount Rushmore, Alpine Slide, Crazy Horse, Campfire
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 55 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking about 1/2 mile indoors and out and standing; groomed paths some stairs.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: Mount Rushmore National Monument is much more than four gigantic faces carved out of stone. The sculptor who made it, Gutzon Borglum — a Danish-American — intended it to be not just a memorial to four of our greatest Presidents, but a “shrine of democracy.” Why these four? Washington led the army during the Revolutionary War with Great Britain and later became the first President of the United States. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and doubled the size of the country with Louisiana Purchase. Lincoln led the country through the Civil War and saved the Union. Roosevelt developed the “Square Deal” that promoted the conservation movement, controlled corporations, and protected consumers. Abroad, he made the Panama Canal happen and won the Nobel Peace Prize for settling a war between Russia and China. We’ll then see Mount Rushmore from a different angle on the top of a ridge about two miles away. We’ll ride up on chair lifts (like ski lifts) for amazing views. Great opportunity to take pics! Going back down, we can ride the chair lift again or, if feeling adventurous, take the alpine slide, controlling the individual speed sled as it glides 2,000 feet down the hill. We’ll then return to the Lodge.

Lunch: At the Lodge.

Afternoon: Mount Rushmore, with its majestic figures of four Presidents, is an American treasure. But there’s an even bigger monument being created less than 20 miles away. This monumental project uses the image of Crazy Horse — legendary Lakota warrior and leader — to symbolize the culture, traditions, and living heritage of North American Indians. Work started in 1948 and when it’s finished, the Crazy Horse Memorial will be the largest mountain carving in the world. We’ll visit the Memorial to learn all about it and explore the Native American Educational & Cultural center there. We’ll have breathtaking views of the carving and surrounding landscape, see pictures of Native Americans from long ago, and an exhibit carved out of rock that tells the story of the bison (buffalo) and how important they were. We’ll take part in a hands-on art activity led by museum educators, then return to the Lodge.

Dinner: At the Lodge.

Evening: We’ll gather around a campfire with our Group Leader for a hands-on lesson about how Native Americans utilized all parts of a bison. We’ll also take this opportunity to roast marshmallows and make S’mores. We’ll then return to Mount Rushmore and attend the Lighting Ceremony, a patriotic event in the open-air auditorium.

DAY
4
Badlands National Park, Gold Panning, Native American Dancer
Keystone, SD
B,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 200 miles round-trip, approximately 4 hours total riding time plus stops. Walking about 1/2 mile; boardwalks, groomed paths.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: We’ll set out via motorcoach with our Group Leader for a field trip to Badlands National Park. It’s an incredible place with beautiful and weird looking buttes, pinnacles, and spires. But 69 million years ago, everything was covered by an inland sea where dinosaurs roamed along the shore. Millions of years later, there were animals such as ancient camels, dogs, horses, rhinos, and saber-toothed cats. They’re long gone, but we’ll stop at different locations in the Park to explore and see what’s there today. We’ll then ride on to the town of Wall. The main attraction is Wall Drug Store, known around the world as a highlight of roadside America. Starting in 1931, it became famous for giving away free ice water to thirsty travelers.

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

Afternoon: Next, we’ll ride to the Journey Museum and Learning Center in Rapid City. The Journey is made up of four different museums that tell their own stories. We’ll explore the Pioneer Museum and see illuminated story walls that tell the story of the Black Hills from the first Europeans who came here up until today. We’ll also participate in a hands-on activity to understand what early settlers and pioneers went through in their struggle to live and travel here with a fun and interactive “Load Your Wagon” experience. We’ll also get to get our hands wet and learn the techniques settlers used as they fed their gold rush fever gold panning. We’ll then return to the Lodge.

Dinner: At the Lodge.

Evening: We’ll be joined at the hotel by a local expert who will captivate us with stories and traditional Native American dance.

DAY
5
Mammoth Site, Junior Paleo Dig, Swimming
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 105 miles, approximately 2 hours riding time. Walking during field trips, standing up to 1 hour at a time. Bring swimming suit and towel for swimming activity.

Breakfast: At the Lodge.

Morning: We’ll ride out to the famous Mammoth Site just outside the city of Hot Springs. Mammoths are a hit in pop culture from movies like “Ice Age.” Real mammoths lived in the real Ice Age. This site is here today thanks to a trick of nature more than 26,000 years ago. An ancient sinkhole collapsed and spring water flowing up from the bottom made a watering hole. It attracted mammoths and other animals such as Ice Age camels, coyotes, giant short-faced bear, llamas, and wolves. Some of them fell in and died. The sinkhole later filled in, preserving the skeletons as fossils. The site was discovered in 1974 when a construction company was excavating for a housing project. They found the bones then turned the site over to scientists. It’s now a laboratory, research facility, and working museum with exhibits. Excavations and scientific investigations are continuing into the future. We’ll go behind the scenes with one of the collectors and curators to learn more about some of the discoveries and see some of the mammoth fossils. Kids will get to become Junior Paleontologists as we help dig for signs of prehistoric life.

Lunch: At a local venue with an outdoor covered patio.

Afternoon: Next, it’s Evans Plunge in Hot Springs where we’ll spend the afternoon enjoying the world’s largest indoor, natural warm spring, rejuvenating, mineral water pool. It’s fed by an enormous thermal spring producing 5,000 gallons per minute! Native Lakota and Cheyenne people knew these waters and used them for centuries before settlers arrived. In 1890, a man named Fred Evans built the first structure over what became known as Evans Plunge. It was soon famous as people came here to swim and soak in the crystal clear waters that stay at a temperature of 87°F. There are water slides, rings, and life guards are on duty. See the Evans Plunge website for pool rules: http://www.evansplunge.com/rules/ Swim and have fun!

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

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Keystone, SD
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the Lodge. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. 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!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.