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Hiking Questions - Black Hills, Badlands. Climber going w/ non-climbing wife.

Original Post
Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

Hey. Topic Title is pretty much it. Going to South Dakota for the first time. My wife really isn't into climbing. Luckily, we both enjoy hiking and the mountains. Looking for recommendations on good hikes that will at least get me up on some scenic cliffs with awesome views. We don't mind doing some rock scrambles or getting exposure. But she isn't interested in roping up and climbing. Appreciate the help.
Also, any tips on lodging and eating. We're flying into Rapid City. Plan on doing something in Black Hills, Badlands, and of course, checking out Mount Rushmore. Anything in the Rushmore area too.
Appreciate it!
Michael C

Travis Bieber · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 64

Hey Michael, you're in luck. The hills are filled with tons of great hiking to be had. For starters, Black Elk peak in the Custer state park is an amazing morning hike, beat the heat and see an amazing sunrise, on the way down you'll be passing by the Cathedral spires and should defiantly take the time to scramble around, alone with Crow Peak in Spearfish and Bear Butte north of Sturgis. Spearfish Canyon and 385 are two very scenic drives but this year's tornado damages have left some sore spots. Within the canyon, the Roughlock Falls area near Savoy has very easy trails that wind through the hills and past some waterfalls. Around the Rushmore area, you'll find tons of trials weaving within the rock formations themselves either established by climbers or others just out walking about. Mt Baldy is a classic as well as Emancipation Rock directly behind Rushmore. If you're looking for a long haul there are tow 100-mile trails with sections of them pass through the black elk wilderness areas. Rend a bicycle for the day and ride the Mickelson.  A couple areas of cliff jumping if you're looking to cool off along with some good-sized lakes for paddling. Not to mention a dozen breweries and couple wineries to grab a drink at. There are about any type of restaurant to eat just depends on where in the hills you are and what you're hungry for. Very good East Indian food in Rapid. A couple local burger joints that are truly great. Alpine Inn only serves steak and salad in Hill City. A personal favorite here in Spearfish, Bunky's BBQ and in the same parking lot Crow Peak brewery for a drink, most weekends in the summer you'll find live music playing outside the brewery as well. As for lodging, it's gonna be cheaper the farther away from the large attraction you go. Spearfish will probably have the best prices on hotels but you'll have to drive more. You can sometimes find really good places to stay using deal sites or Airbnb. A couple of free camping areas. Contact me if you need more information, suggestions or help while you're here. Cheers 

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

Thank you! I just booked my trip. Staying just outside of downtown Rapid City.

To make it simple...I only have Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

1. Good place to get beers/food after hiking downtown.
2. Best scenic hike in Black Hills.
3. Best scenic hike in Custer.
4. Best scenic hike in Badlands.
5. Anything else I should see outside of Mt Rushmore and Wind Cave?

Ģnöfudør Ðrænk · · Get off my lawn. · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 2

Here are the best things to do in order of priority:

  1. Hike Black Elk Peak (AKA Harney Peak)  from Sylvan Lake (Cant miss this).  
  2. Drive the Needles Highway from Sylvan Lake to the Cathedral Spires Trail head. ( Cant miss this either, but dont go further.)
  3. Hike around Sylvan Lake
  4. Hike to the Cathedral Spires.
Then if you have time left, go see the other stuff.

If you want good local beer, Lost Cabin, Dakota Point, and Miner Breweries have great beer but they dont have food with the exception that Miner does have Pizza, however there are usually a couple food trucks nearby that are decent.  Independant Ale House has a great selection of beer on tap and a limited selection of food. Their pizza is ok. The other breweries should be avoided.  
chris tregge · · Beersconsin · Joined May 2007 · Points: 9,592

Agree with Harney peak and Sylvan Lake.

I thought jewel cave was nicer (nicer formations, more colorful) than wind cave if you are just doing one cave. 

Agree with hiking the trail from the cathedral spires trailhead/viewpoint to the spires, around back and to the end of the trail. 

Mark Griffin · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 62

I agree with these guys.

There's a brew pub that's pretty popular in RC called Firehouse or something. It's decent. There's a bar up the street that has live music sometimes on a big patio. Walk around and check out all the president statues.

In Custer: Harney Peak is a great hike. Walk around Sylvan lake while you're there.
There's another peak with a fire lookout that you can drive up, I forget the name. It's worthwhile. If the weather sucks there's a nice hike called Sunday Gulch or something behind sylvan lake.

Go check out Crow Peak near Spearfish, it's a great hike and usually no one's up there. Historic spot too.

In Badlands don't miss the window/door/notch area. Three short hikes in a unique environ.

I thought Jewel Cave was cooler than Wind Cave too.

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

Thanks guys for all your input.

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

Black Elk Peak - amazing. saw Little Devil's Tower and Cathedral Spires too.
Miner Brewery - outstanding. Mango Beer was dope.
Badlands - awesome
Wall Drug - seriously, so cool
Spearfish Canyon - very pretty
Crow Peak - great hike, great views
Bear Country - too cool

What an amazing place. Definitely going back. Can't wait to do some climbing next time!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Wyoming, Montana, Dakotas
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