Black Hills Bucket List: The Black Hills For Beginners

Black Hills National Forest has an allure and ambiance unique to only a place of its diversity. The Black Hills are not only beautiful but they are also packed with exciting and unique experiences that are worthy to be on your destination bucket list. 

This list compiles all sorts of different experiences from seeing nature’s organic beauty firsthand to having unparalleled experiences at the Hotel Alex Johnson. The Black Hills will be an exciting excursion that will leave you wanting more.


Scenic Drives

A major part of the Black Hills is the insurmountable natural beauty that it holds. From the State Parks to the charming small towns the Black Hills has a little bit of everything.

Taking a scenic drive through some of nature’s natural beauty is a great way to spend your day.

Top 3 Scenic Drives

Custer State Park Wildlife Loop is an 18-mile-long trip for any animal lover. If you are aching to see bison, deer, elk, or any Black Hills wildlife this is the perfect opportunity. From the prairie to the forest, this loop is unmatched.

Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is exactly as it sounds. This windy road takes you through Spearfish Canyon allowing you to see up close the limestone boulders and magnificent mountains. Not only is the drive worthy of your time, but there are also multiple biking trails, hikes, and excursions you can do along the way. A few breathtaking stops that you can add to your drive are Bridal Veil Waterfall, Roughlock Scenic Overview, or Spearfish Falls.

Needles Highway is a 14-mile-long road that takes you through some of the most spectacular beauty the Black Hills can offer. Needles Highway is in the notorious Custer State Park, and it is near Sylvan Lake if you savvy a fun day of water activities. It is a slow drive with many opportunities to stop for a photo op. Pack a picnic and spend the day soaking in the world-class beauty of the Black Hills.


Hiking Trails

Want to experience the Black Hills like a local? Then taking a hike through the Black Hills is a must. There are many amazing hiking trails that are suitable for any experience level.

One popular hiking trail with the locals is Hippie Hole. Getting to Hippie Hole involves a scenic hike through the innermost parts of the Black Hills National Forest. With opportunities to see gorgeous granite walls, a stunning waterfall, and an option to go swimming it’s no wonder that Hippie Hole is such a popular destination.

See Trail Details

Horsethief Lake Trail is an exciting trip that will envelop you with amazing views at every turn. You will see waterfalls, mossy boulders, and possibly some wildlife along this 3.5-mile trail.

See Trail Details

Don’t forget water, some snacks, and sunscreen to make your hiking adventure the best it can be.



Mount Rushmore National Monument

A more well-known location that still deserves to be on your bucket list is the legendary Mount Rushmore National Monument. This historic and revolutionary work of art is carved into the side of a mountain demanding your attention.

Along with the history behind it, Mount Rushmore is a fun day trip that takes you through a different part of the Black Hills. Although Mount Rushmore is traveled to more frequently, it is still a unique experience exclusive to the Black Hills.


Hotel Alex Johnson

The historic and infamous Hotel Alex Johnson is the pinnacle of local luxury. With amazing service and multiple outlets, including Starbucks, Vertex Sky Bar, and Paddy O’Neill’s Irish Pub & Grill, the Hotel Alex Johnson will make your trip elevated and stress-free.

Vertex Sky Bar

Experience spectacular views with an elevated, luxurious experience unlike anything else at Vertex Sky Bar. With specialty drinks and scrumptious food, our sky-high views will allow you to soak in the atmosphere and splendor of the Black Hills in the most valued way possible.

Paddy O’Neill’s

Eating out can be one of the most difficult decisions when visiting an unfamiliar area luckily the Hotel Alex Johnson takes care of that for you. Located in the heart of downtown Rapid City, Paddy O’Neill’s Irish Pub & Grill brings the local neighborhood tavern charm right to you. With an original pub interior and a homey welcoming ambiance, eating here will leave you satisfied and jovial.

Located In The Heart Of The Hills

Booking a room at the Hotel Alex Johnson allows you to stay in the heart of downtown Rapid City while also being able to go on any excursion you want without driving hours away. Your stay and dining are covered leaving you ample time to plan the trip of your dreams. The Black Hills is waiting with much anticipation to exceed all your expectations.