Exploring the Black Hills of South Dakota

June 1-6, 2022 • 6 Days • $2150

Featuring Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, Custer State Park, the mega walk at Crazy Horse Memorial and more! Join us for a 6 day tour Exploring the Black Hills region!

The beauty and multi-faceted appeal of these Black Hills of granite is vastly underrated. The Native American story is compelling. Old West drama abounds in places like Deadwood and Keystone. Devil’s Tower is an outstanding and one-of-a-kind nature trail. Custer State Park offers some of the most reliable wildlife viewing in the USA, from the comfort of our coach. And, as always, walking is the special ingredient for connecting with the intriguing history, culture, and scenery of this special and little visited region of the USA.

Crazy Horse Video Overview

Take a virtual tour of Crazy Horse & the Black Hills!

Crazy Horse Memorial is the vision of one man, Korczak Ziolkowski, who officially began crafting this tribute to Chief Crazy Horse and the Lakota Sioux on June 3, 1948 at the request of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear. The massive project is the largest mountain sculpture in the world.

Korczak has long since passed away, but the project continues with his children and is likely to carry on for generations to come. Only open to the public two weekends each year, the Crazy Horse Memorial provides the venue for an unforgettable hiking experience.

The surrounding Black Hills region also has much to offer, including Mount Rushmore, whose sculptures serve as a tribute in stone to four of America’s great presidents—Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt; and Custer State Park, a wildlife menagerie boasting over 1300 American Bison, the largest land mammal in North America. In addition, neighboring Wyoming offers us the geological phenomenon of Devil’s Tower — one of our favorite nature hikes.

One of the most underrated destinations in the USA, the Black Hills is a great venue for a 6-day mini-adventure centered around the biannual Crazy Horse Memorial Walk. We’re excited to base this trip from two well-located hotels in the atmospheric Old West towns of Deadwood, South Dakota and Keystone, South Dakota!

Including:

Pricing is based on double occupancy.

  • Airport to hotel group transfers on first and last day
  • All land travel as outlined
  • Tourist class or better hotel accommodations
  • 7 meals: all breakfasts and 2 dinners as denoted (BD)
  • 4 walk routes
  • Fees for walking credit (for those collecting AVA credit)
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides if more than 18 travelers)
  • Cultural and historical expertise of local guide in Deadwood
  • All tipping for local guides, coach drivers, and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $450. We also provide a roommate matching service.

Activities/Visits to:

  • Guided coach tour of Deadwood and Lead
  • Devils Tower National Monument
  • Custer State Park
  • Crazy Horse Memorial
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • More fun stops than we can list!

“Good length of walks – good places – congenial group. Didn’t realize how great this area is in other ways.”

-Janet K; Lake Forest Park, WA


“Well organized, very interesting itineraries, excellent guides, fair value for the price paid.”

-Phil K; Sunnyvale, CA


“WAI, you have exposed the world to me in my various trips with you. Thank you – Thank you.”

-Kay E; Bedford, IN


“Walkers make great traveling companions and WAI guides do all the preparatory work to make it a great experience.”

-John F; Anchorage, AK


“Extremely organized and something for everyone, super walks, information and great fellowship.”

-Rowena M;  Bedford, IN


“Excellent company to travel with. Well organized, friendly staff, very helpful. Variety of travel destinations and value for your dollars.”

-Kathleen I; San Lorenzo, CA

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

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Important Info

Group Size

15 to 22 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Tourist Class hotels or better

Meals

7 meals included: all breakfasts and 2 dinners as denoted (BD)

Airfare

Not included. Official start and finish point is the Rapid City Regional Airport, South Dakota (RAP).

Transportation

Included. Due to some challenging Black Hills roads, we will be using a coach with 34 seats on this Adventure.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

Scott Isom has had a passion for the outdoors ever since his childhood days spent exploring the waterfalls and outstanding hiking trails of the Columbia River Gorge with his family. Currently living in Puyallup, Washington, Scott loves to explore the unknown, knows how to have a good time, and enjoys including others in the fun! As one of WAI’s busiest guides and on-site Adventure planners, Scott has led tours on all 7 continents.

Roger in Normandy

Roger Dorway has always appreciated the experiential, paradigm-expanding value of travel, and has been privileged to explore destinations on 5 continents.  Roger’s business background connecting buyers and sellers provide him with a gift for connecting with people, and he is widely renowned among WAI travelers for his compassionate presence and seemingly never-ending supply of pithy witticisms. Retirement has only increased his appetite for discovering more of the world, largely satiated by sharing cultural and historical insights as part of the WAI guide team.

Itinerary

BLD refers to meals included, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Click on each day for more details.

DAY 1-June 1: Arrive Rapid City, South Dakota

Travelers arrive today into Rapid City Regional Airport. A complement shuttle is available to our hotel in nearby Rapid City. Traveler who arrive early, or come in the day before, may want to consider local club walks available in Rapid City. Three walking trails and one bicycle route start from hotel start points within a 3-4 mile taxi ride of our hotel. Our first group activity is a welcome meeting this evening after you’ve had dinner on your own.

DAY 2-June 2: Rapid City to Deadwood (BD)

Deadwood Walk – 6 & 10 km, rated 1B

Following a one hour bus ride west from Rapid City to the historic town of Deadwood, our first activity is a memorable coach tour with a fun local guide. We’ll be entertained with tales of the past, and introduced to Homestake Mine in neighboring Lead, America’s deepest and largest gold mine until it was closed in 2002. The entire town of Deadwood is on the National Historic Register—it’s a city known for the gold rush days of the 1870s, Wild Bill Hickok’s final demise, and the largest historic restoration project in the USA.

The afternoon’s walk connects us with several faces of Deadwood, still a gambling mecca, including the cemetery of Mount Moriah, final resting place of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane; atmospheric sections of old town Deadwood; and one of the most unique chocolate shops you’ll ever encounter!

Join us this evening for an atmospheric dinner in one of Deadwood’s fun eateries.

DAY 3-June 3: Activities from Deadwood (B)

Devils Tower National Monument Walk – 11 km, rated 3C

Devils Tower looms above the surrounding hills like a 1,000-foot tall tree stump, making it difficult to get lost on this outstanding nature Trail. Still sacred to the Lakota Sioux, this geological phenomenon was set aside as our country’s first national monument by President Teddy Roosevelt’s 1906 Antiquities Act. More recently, it was featured in the blockbuster 1977 film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.

The wildlife and the prairie dog villages, the winding Belle Fourche River, rock climbers drawn by the tower’s hundreds of vertical cracks, the Red Beds Trail, and the stunning spectacle of the Tower itself make this an outstanding, multi-faceted hiking experience!

Upon our return to Deadwood, enjoy exploring town with dinner on your own this evening.

DAY 4-June 4: Deadwood – Keystone (B)

Flume Trail #50 – 5 & 11 km, rated 2C

We make our way today to Keystone, a community that, like many in the area, has its roots in 19th century mining booms. En route, we stop for our walk of the day on the historic Flume Trail. The flume operated until 1885, enabling miners to take over $20 million in gold from the area, and the trail follows the actual flume bed for much of its length.

We also sample a special slice of the Black Hills this afternoon on the Iron Mountain Road, a 17-mile stretch of highway specifically engineered to show off the unique beauty of its enduring granite peaks. After 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 tunnels, and a vintage viewpoint of Mount Rushmore, we arrive at the Wildlife Loop Road of Custer State Park.

The park is home to a herd of about 1300 buffalo. An excellent loop road through the park offers some of the best wildlife view we’ve experienced! In addition to a plethora of buffalo, we typically see wild burros, prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys, white-tail deer and mule deer.

Keystone offers several eateries to consider for dinner on your own. Walkers with energy to burn may also consider a bonus club walk based here in Keystone, and daylight shouldn’t be a problem in June.

DAY 5-June 5: Activities from Keystone (BD)

Crazy Horse Memorial Walk – 10 km, rated 3C

The Ziolkowski family has been sculpting this mountain of granite since Korczak Ziolkowski accepted Chief Standing Bear’s invitation to immortalize Chief Crazy Horse in 1948, and the work is likely to continue into this family’s fourth and fifth generations. The memorial worksite is open to the public for this walk only twice each year. There’s nothing like the thrill of standing on the granite arm of Chief Crazy Horse looking up at the far away gaze of his 87 foot tall face!

Nearby Mount Rushmore was the inspiration for Crazy Horse Memorial. We stop here as well to pay homage to four of America’s great presidents—Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Our Farewell Dinner takes place tonight back in Keystone at a local restaurant with plenty of old West ambiance.

DAY 6-June 6: Depart from Keystone (B)

Too soon our adventure together comes to a close. Following our final breakfast, shuttles return you to your hometown reality via the Rapid City Regional Airport.

Thank you for sharing the history, culture, and scenery of Crazy Horse & the Black Hills of South Dakota with us!

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

To register, a non-refundable $200 deposit is required to hold your spot. A final payment is due 60 days before departure and is non-refundable once paid. You will receive a prompt email from us a week or two in advance.

An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, as well as important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.

Please follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.

Walk Ratings

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Several walks on this trip are oriented more towards education, and therefore take longer due to stops for guide commentary. Nature walks, on the other hand, generally continue at a steadier pace because we’re stopping less to talk.

In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please contact our office at [email protected].

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented on the table below:

INCLINE

1. Minimal hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: <200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: 1000-2000 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).

Elevation in the Black Hills

Please bear in mind that the walks on this Adventure take place at elevations ranging from 2,500 feet above sea level to 6,500 feet above sea level at Crazy Horse Memorial. While these are not extreme elevations, it is important to pursue any concerns you have about elevation with your doctor. As always, travelers are free to opt out of any activities. As is the case with all of our Adventures, it is also important that you prepare for the fun by maintaining a good physical fitness routine.

Volkssport Tour or Classic Curated?

WAI offers walking adventures all over the planet!

Most of the walks featured on these tours are developed by WAI tour planners in cooperation with local walking guides. These itineraries are the result of extensive on-site planning by WAI staff.

A Volkssport Tour, on the other hand, streamlines this process and focuses more on walks and less on sightseeing. The objective is to feature more walking and offer more volkssport stamps (a record of walks volkswalkers keep in a passport-like walking book), and to keep the price lower.

In the case of Crazy Horse & the Black Hills of South Dakota, however, local club walks are used, yet on the ground planning has also fine-tuned this itinerary to provide an excellent balance of walking, sightseeing, and cultural connections.

This Adventure is therefore a happy blend of the Volkssport and Classic Curated concepts.

Tour Accommodations

Good quality, tourist-class accommodations are the standard for our Adventure. Most accommodations on this tour are selected primarily as a practical base from which to pursue our itinerary. Many, but not all, of our accommodations on this adventure are either single-floor or two-floors, sometimes without elevators. Travelers should be able to carry their luggage up a number of steps to get to a second-floor room if necessary.

How is airfare arranged?

The official start and finish point for this Adventure is Rapid City, South Dakota and the nearest airport is Rapid City Regional Airport (airport code RAP). More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be available after this tour has been finalized.

We recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided by email after you register for the Adventure.  Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. This is now especially true in the era of COVID-19, which is typically treated like any other illness for travel insurance purposes. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provide air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.

Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).

As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the SquareMouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz
  • Betins
  • Travel Guard
  • Travel Insured International

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape has caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.

What if WAI Cancels the Tour?

Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel this tour departure with fewer than 12 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received. This refund policy contains one exclusion related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Unforeseen circumstances linked to the virus can force us to cancel a tour. Due to these supplier’s non-refundable policies, WAI attempts to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible, but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.

View our full Coronavirus FAQ for more details.

COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

Our Approach to Fun but Prudent Travel document identifies and explains Covid-19 mitigation policies and procedures WAI is using as a starting point for our 2022 tours. Because the knowledge base about COVID-19 changes daily, we review these policies and procedures on an ongoing basis, and will, of course, notify travelers of updates as we approach the departure date of your tour.

COVID-19 Travel Waiver

During this age of COVID-19, WAI evaluates worldwide reports and conditions on an ongoing basis. Please read Our Approach to Fun but Prudent Travel document before registering for the tour. Part of the registration process is affirming the terms of the COVID-19 Travel Waiver.

Participation in this tour requires your assent to these terms.

What Happens Next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome email and initial invoice notifying you of your tour balance and due date. You will be able to make that payment online or over the phone. Any other payments necessary for optional services or one-off decisions can also be made either way.

A Flight Arrangements email with critical information on booking your flights will be sent soon after registration, as well as important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.

About 70 days before departure, you will receive a final statement reminder about the final tour payment, which is due 60 days before departure. Please see our General Tour Conditions for the full terms and conditions for participation in this Adventure.

Around 2-3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final email packet with details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Take a few minutes to peruse the enclosed itinerary.  Walking is still and always the best way to experience our world. Join us this summer for this unforgettable Walking Adventure program as we experience Crazy Horse & the Black Hills of South Dakota together!