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Your guide to Hill City
Welcome to Hill City
Parks and outdoor adventures surround the Black Hills’ second-oldest town. Its South Dakota showstoppers include the Crazy Horse Memorial, the planet’s largest mountain carving, to the southwest, and Mount Rushmore to the southeast: both within a 20-minute drive. Hill City also makes a good base for exploring Devils Tower, the spires of Custer State Park, and the otherworldly Badlands. And don’t forget the pristine prairie at Wind Cave National Park, blanketing one of the world’s longest, most complex cavern systems.
Hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and off-roading trails wind through the rocky slopes and gnarled ponderosa pines. For kid-friendly options, you can go boat or ice fishing on Sheridan Lake, or browse dinosaur bones at the Museum @ Black Hills Institute. Meanwhile adults can soak up the art galleries, local wineries, and craft beer that bring cosmopolitan charm to this laid-back tourist hub.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Hill City
Outdoor adventurers should look to summer for the most consistently warm temperatures. That said, fall offers smaller crowds and less rain, beating out spring on the shoulder-season front. Culture kicks off in May with the Black Hills Film Festival, followed by scrap metal and chainsaw creations at June’s Sculpture in the Hills Art Show. Treat your taste buds to local food and drinks with a side of live music at the Wine, Brew & BBQ festival in August. September brings the Quilt Show and Sale, great for original souvenirs. A holiday parade marks the start of Old Tyme Christmas in late November, and Holiday Express trains run on weekends throughout December.
Top things to do in Hill City
The scenic, 3-hour round-trip journey runs between Hill City and Keystone from May to October. Replica steam locomotives pull visitors past old mines and Gold Rush hot spots within the forest landscape. Serious rail buffs should also make tracks for the South Dakota State Railroad Museum flanking the Hill City depot.
George S. Mickelson Trail
Hill City sits near the center of this 109-mile route connecting Deadwood in the northern Black Hills and Edgemont in the south. This gently sloping trail — usually less than a 4 percent grade — passes over old railroad bridges and through rock tunnels. Rent a bicycle, hop on horseback, or lace up your hiking boots to head in either direction. Summer trolley rides also open up this experience for visitors of all abilities.
Hill City Galleries
Experience the area’s natural beauty with a self-guided tour of Main Street’s creative side. Many of the galleries and boutiques feature Native and contemporary pieces made by locals. Think watercolor farm scenes and chainsaw carvings, not to mention a scrap-metal stallion made from farm and ranch tools. Its sculptor reports that flesh-and-blood horses occasionally whinny at it when they’re being trailered through town.