Mt. Rushmore Sampler Multi-Sport
Includes all lodging, breakfasts and dinners, support van, leaders, cave entrance, bicycle rental, horse back ride, evening program, tour maps & narratives.
Rapid City, SD
Timberline van shuttle is included between Rapid City and the tour prior to and following tour.
Not Included: Airfare to Rapid City Regional Airport, Guide Gratuity.
Hotel 8:00 am
South Dakota – a sparsley populated state that is little understood by outsiders, has often been referred to as the land of infinite variety. So what better place to introduce one of our true multisport tours! We will enjoy a different sport every day as we explore the southwestern corner defined by the Black Hills.
South Dakota was once included in the massive intercontinental ocean, which contributed to it becoming one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Dinosaurs through ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat, camels, llamas, giant short-faced bears and mammoths, have left their mark on the area and provide rich archeological excavation sites throughout the state. It is now home to bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and thankfully again, the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America, which was reintroduced in 2000. The area has long been in conflict between the Native tribes of Lakota, Sioux and Dakota, and the impingment of the white man. Native Americans were force to sign treaties relinquishing their rights to much of their land. Then, during an expedition led by George A. Custer, gold was discovered in the Black Hills, and miners and explorers began illegally entering land formerly occupied by and promised to the Lakota, Dakota and Sioux. The Native Americans declared war and fought for their land, but eventually the US defeated the Sioux and broke up the Great Sioux Reservation into five reservations. More recently, a federal board renamed the highest point in the state, Harney Peak in the Black Hills, to Black Elk Peak, honoring a Lakota medicine man. The government determined that the name of the state’s highest peak was derogatory to Native Americans because Harney was a general whose soldiers massacred Indians. Unsurprisingly, there is some controversy over the renaming and certain locals refuse to acknowledge the Black Elk name.
We assemble for our Mt. Rushmore Multi-Sport Tour in Rapid City, the second largest city in South Dakota, and immediately make our way east to Badlands National Park. The park highlights sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires surrounded by a mixed-grass prairie ecosystem. The rugged spires and deep canyons stand sentinel and it looks desolate and uninhabitable, but look closer to find plants and animals that are well adapted to this environment of prairie and geological formations. In the meeting of prairie and spires we will take our first hike on Day 1 on the Castle Trail, traversing the transition zone. If you have enough energy we can continue on the Notch Trail through a canyon and along a ledge for a dramatic view of the White River Valley. We’ll have time for some stops at the fossil exhibits and Visitor Center before heading back west to our home for three nights at State Game Lodge in the middle of Custer State Park. This historic stone and wood lodge built in 1920 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For Day 2 we will mount our road bikes for an unforgettable ride on the road that engineers once said couldn’t be built. The Iron Mountain Road is a 17 mile work of art in itself, passing through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Black Hills and including”Pigtail Bridges” and three tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore in the distance. We are rewarded with a visit to the famous National Monument, where a picnic under the watchful eyes of four great presidents is in order. Our return route is no less forgettable as we circle around past Sylvan Lake and ride the Needles Highway. The road’s name comes from the needle-like granite formations which seem to pierce the horizon along the highway, and especially a unique rock formation called the Needle’s Eye, so named for the opening created by wind, rain, freezing and thawing.
Day 3 begins with a drive along the Wildlife Loop Road, where you are likely to see the wild bison, if they haven’t already been hanging out under your hotel window. Other potential sightings include elk, big horn sheep, prairie dogs and a band of the parks free-loading burros. Our destination is Wind Cave National Park, where we will tour a cave rich in honeycomb-shaped calcite formations known as boxwork. Then it is off to the dude ranch for an afternoon ride through the Black Hills on horse, and a visit to the historic town of Custer, the first established town of the Black Hills.
We move west on Day 4 and tackle Trail Number 9 with a hike to the summit of Black Elk Peak. This popular hiking trail climbs 1,100 ft to an open summit with spectacular views of the surrounding hills. On our return we are led directly to the beautiful sight of Sylvan Lake where it will be nearly impossible not to dive into the refreshing waters. Tonight we stay at Sylvan Lake Lodge, the historic, yet upscale stone-and-wood lodge.
Day 5 is back in the bicycle saddle for a completely different ride on the states’ first rails to trails project. The Mickelson Trail is a crushed limestone and gravel route, with grades not exceeding 4 percent, which transverses the beautiful Black Hills and the gold mines of the Deadwood area. We have chosen the most scenic cycling sections of the trail which includes several tunnels and bridges. Dinner tonight will be in Custer or back at Sylvan Lake Lodge.
For our last day we have yet another historic hiking trail to explore. South Dakota’s Centennial trail was built in 1989 to mark the 100th anniversary of South Dakota’s statehood. It is an 111-mile trail traveling through prairies and mountainous areas. We will choose a short section in the heart of the National Forest that ends at Sheridan Lake with plenty of time for another swim before returning to Rapid City and the conclusion of the tour.
|Day 1||Assemble in Rapid City, van shuttle to Badlands, hike||6.5|
|Day 2||Bike Iron Mountain Road, vist Mt. Rushmore, bike Needles Hwy back to State Game Lodge||55|
|Day 3||Tour Wind Cave, horse back ride, evening program|
|Day 4||Hike Black Elk Peak and swim in Sylvan Lake||7|
|Day 5||Mountain bike on the Mickelson Trail||40|
|Day 6||Hike on the Centennial Trail||7|