Written by 6:32 pm Camp America - Road Trips, Travel

Black Hills and Badlands – South Dakota’s Hwy 14 & 16

South Dakota’s Highway 14 and 16

Travel across South Dakota, west to east along US Highways 14 and 16, and along the way you will enjoy some our nation’s finest treasures. You will have countless opportunities to learn about the rich history of our nation, from the prehistoric ages to modern history. Revel in the history of the Black Hills, explore the notorious Badlands, and get to know the American Indian peoples who have live there. Soak in the sweet, vanilla-like smell of the ponderosa pines as you tromp through these gorgeous, dry pine forests.  This trip across South Dakota is a chance to really immerse yourself in the beauty and history of the United States.

Start your trip at the western end of South Dakota in the Black Hills National Forest. To start you will need to determine if you want to start on the more southern US Highway 16 or a head little farther north on US Highway 14. Both 14 and 16 merge with Interstate 90 at Rapid City, but along the way to Rapid City there are a few different sights to see along each route.

If you decide to take the more northern Highway 14, you can see Black Hills National Forest by taking the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. This byway is one of the best ways to really enjoy the scenery of the Black Hills while driving. Black Hills National Forest also offers amazing camping, hiking, biking, and many other recreational activities. 

One of the first cities you will find yourself in is Lead. In Lead you can enjoy  snowmobiling and cross-country skiing — visit the Mystic Miner and Terry Peak Ski Resorts for winter activities. If you want to learn more about the Black Hills and the history of mining in the area, stop at the Black Hills Mining Museum.

Continuing along Highway 14, you will soon reach Sturgis, home to the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. If you want to learn more about motorcycles, stop in at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. From Sturgis you can also enjoy the Fort Meade Museum, which is home to remnants from the historic Fort Meade cavalry post.

Within the Black Hills National Forest, be sure to stop at the Mount Rushmore National Monument, the Crazy Horse Monument, Harney Peak, and Wind Cave National Park. If you are looking to visit these major sights, driving along Highway 16 will give you more direct access. However, Rapid City is a great jumping off point to visit these locations and both highways lead into Rapid City.

At Rapid City, both Highway 14 and 16 merge onto Interstate 90. Rapid City is one of South Dakota’s larger cities. It is a great jumping-off point for day trips to Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave as well as a fun town to tour on foot or by car.  Golfing is popular here, as are walking, hiking, and mountain biking. If you are looking for a little art and culture, take a walk through downtown Rapid City and see The City of Presidents, the life-size bronze sculptures. You can also visit the Journey Museum to learn even more about the Black Hills. Wildlife lovers will enjoy a trip to the famous Bear Country USA.

If you choose to take Highway 16 to Rapid City instead of Highway 14, you’ll pass through the charming town of Custer, South Dakota. Custer is minutes away from the Crazy Horse Memorial where you can see the likeness of Crazy horse and visit the Indian Museum of North America, the Native American Educational and Cultural Center, and even see the American Indian dancers throughout the summer. You can also pause here to climb Harney Peak, the tallest peak east of the Rockies.

In Custer, you’ll be conveniently closer to Mount Rushmore National Monument which celebrates four of our nation’s great presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. At Mount Rushmore you can take guided ranger tours and see an evening program with the lighting of the faces.

Nearby Wind Cave National Park is home to one of the world’s longest and most complex caves. The park also has many different types of ecosystems, including ponderosa pine forests and prairie. Not far away, Custer State Park is the second largest state park in the United States. It is home to buffalo, numerous lakes for fishing, and excellent rock climbing sites.

After Rapid Cit,y if you choose to continue along US Highway 14, you will leave Interstate 90 near Wall, South Dakota and will drive through Fort Pierre, near Lake Oahe. On Lake Oahe you can enjoy swimming, boating and fishing.

If you choose to continue along Highway 16, continue along Interstate 90 through South Dakota. Along Highway 16 you can visit Badlands National Park with its amazing fossil beds and colorful, striped hills. After Chamberlain and views of the Missouri River, pay a visit to the arts center of Sioux Falls, which is on the eastern end of South Dakota. Be sure to take in the Sioux Falls Symphony Orchestra or visit one of the many galleries or performing arts venues.

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