We Make History Exciting

The Hotel Alex Johnson is a proud member of the Curio Collection by Hilton. Owned and managed by Liv Hospitality, this 143-room Rapid City hotel has welcomed travelers from around the world, including celebrities, dignitaries, and families for over 75 years. Ask about our “haunted” reputation … if you dare!

Guests can enjoy the traditional and authentic Native American décor while visiting the Rapid City area, coupled with modern conveniences including free Wi-Fi, digital cable, and valet service.

Take a walk into history with our full guided tour below.

Walking Tour

Alex Johnson Hotel History

Alex Carlton Johnson, Vice President of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, was a great admirer of the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Lakota Sioux Tribes that called the area home. He dreamed of a “Showplace of the West,” a tribute to the Native Americans and the Black Hills that surrounded him.

And so, on October 3, 1927, just one day before construction began on Mount Rushmore, Johnson began work on the hotel that would bear his name.

What emerged was a structural design that was a successful blend of two spirits: the heritage of the Plains Indians that had so captivated Johnson and the Germanic Tudor architecture, representing the heavy German immigration to the Dakotas.

On July 1, 1928, less than a year after construction began, the hotel opened its doors to the first guests. The first guest was Paddy O’Neill, who’s name now adorns the bar off the lobby. Thus, began a long line of visitors, dignitaries, presidents, and celebrities that would stay at the hotel over the decades. Today, as you walk into the lobby, look down and you’ll notice the bricks you step on are all original. Look even closer and you will notice that some have Native American symbols imbedded in them. Although one of the symbols look suspiciously similar to a Swastika, it’s actually an ancient symbol that means the “four sacred corners of the earth,” that was adopted by the Native Americans generations ago.

That same symbol is found in many places throughout The Hotel Alex Johnson and is reflected in the one of a kind chandelier, made of war spears, that has hung from the decorative rafters for over 80 years.

As you learn more of the hotel’s rich past, you will begin to understand why it is one of the most historic hotels in America. Hotel Alex Johnson is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been a member of the National Tour Association since 1981. The hotel is also a member of the Association of Historic Hotels of the Rockies and has been a recipient of the First Governor’s Great Service Award and Governor’s Service Star.


The historic Hotel Alex Johnson has long been known as one of the most haunted hotels in South Dakota. From the “lady in white” to the ghost of Alex Johnson himself, there have been countless reports of spooky activity.

The Alex Johnson hotel history has become so well known for reported hauntings that the SyFy Channel’s hit show “Ghost Hunters” traveled to Rapid City to do a special segment on the hotel.

The investigators reported that they experienced significant paranormal activity throughout the hotel.

The Lady in White

The most popular and reported ghost story of the Hotel Alex Johnson is that of the Lady in White. During the 1970’s, it was reported that a young bride committed suicide by flinging herself out of the window of room 812. Those that knew the young woman insisted there was foul play, stating that she was much too happy and friendly to commit such an act. The fact that she was to inherit a large sum of money only strengthened their argument. Yet, no one was ever convicted of her murder and the suicide ruling stood firm.

Today, guests claim the young bride wanders the halls of the eighth floor in a white gown, searching for those responsible for her death. It has been reported that the window of room 812 is often found open in the morning and that dresser drawers are taken out, turned upside down and put back in place.

Curious? Book a Ghost Package to stay in room 812 to find out for yourself.

Alex Johnson

Some guests have reported seeing the ghost of Alex Johnson himself. It is thought that since his death in 1938 he has stayed on the premises to ensure operations are still running smoothly.

The Young Girl

Some guests of the eighth floor of the hotel have reported that the ghost of a young girl would knock on their door, night after night, only to disappear in the hallway. She’s also been heard giggling down the hallway.

Ghost Adventure Package

Are you brave enough to stay the night in one of our haunted rooms? Book a Ghost Adventure package which includes:

  • Accommodation in a reported haunted room
  • One K2 meter (ghost detector)
  • $25 dining credit
  • Free access to Vertex Sky Bar, located on the top levels of the hotel
  • Free valet parking


Please note that an upgrade to a haunted room may be available at check-in. Feel free to inquire at that time if you are interested in staying in a haunted room.


Have you stayed at Hotel Alex Johnson and had a close encounter with one of our resident ghosts? 

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