If you have seen my Badlands or Black Hills travel itinerary, you know that South Dakota is a beautiful place to visit with a rich history and stunning landscapes. This would be a perfect state for a 5 day family road trip, and today I’m going to give you some options for a Badlands Black Hills travel itinerary.
45+ Things To Do in South Dakota
Sioux Falls bike trail
Butterfly House and Aquarium
Great Plains Zoo
Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village
Badlands Loop Road
Sage Creek Rim Road
Sheep Mountain Table Road
Hike Window or Door Trail
Badlands Paleontology Lab
Wall Drug Store
Minute Man Missile Site
Buffalo Gap National Grasslands
The Mammoth Site
World Fossil Finder Museum
Black Hills/Rapid City
Iron Mountain Road
Custer State Park
Wind Cave National Park
Crazy Horse Memorial
Jewel Cave National Monument
Black Hill Caverns
Museum of Geology
Rapid City’s Dinosaur Museum.
Spearfish Canyon Highway scenic drive
Bridal Veil Falls
Deadwood’s gold rush history
Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower
See a bison
Watch prairie dogs scamper around
Find bighorn sheep in the Badlands
Learn about the fossil history of the area
Learn about the indigenous history of the state
5 Day Badlands to Black Hills Road Trip Travel Itinerary
For Day 1 of your Badlands Black Hills travel itinerary, drive Badlands Loop Road and do as many of the short hikes in the park as you can. You’ll also want to spend a good amount of time at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and Paleontology Lab.
On Day 2 of your Mount Rushmore Badlands Itinerary, try to catch either sunrise or sunset in Badlands National Park. Check out my Badlands itinerary for sunset overlook ideas. Explore Sage Creek Rim Road, Roberts Prairie Dog Town, and Sheep Mountain Table. Wrap up your day at Wall Drug and be sure to enjoy the maple donuts.
Start Day 3 with a 1.5 to 2 hour drive from Badlands to Black Hills. I recommend staying in Custer State Park, either in the Game Lodge or Legion Lake area. But with 3 days in the Black Hills, you have enjoy time to fully enjoy this area even if you stay somewhere a bit farther away. Drive Needles Highway today, enjoying the viewpoints and Needles Eye Tunnel. If you’d like to do a hike here, try Cathedral Spires Trail or Sunday Gulch Trail or take a leisurely walk around Sylvan Lake.
On Day 4, take 2-3 hours to drive Wildlife Loop looking for bison, prairie dogs, and pronghorns. Book a tour at Wind Cave National Park or go for a paddle on Legion Lake.
I’d wrap up your Mount Rushmore Badlands Itinerary on Day 5 with Mount Rushmore itself. Drive Iron Mountain Road on the way there, enjoying the various viewpoints of the presidential carvings. Be sure to enjoy the Mount Rushmore museum, which may close earlier than other parts of the historic site.
5 Day Sioux Falls to Black Hills Road Trip Travel Itinerary
We’ll need to condense our Mount Rushmore Badlands Itinerary a bit to fit in stops in Sioux Falls and Mitchell on our road trip across South Dakota. This South Dakota road trip itinerary includes about 7 hours of driving, so it’s a very manageable distance to cover in 5 days.
On Day 1, explore Sioux Falls. We enjoyed the bike paths and Falls Park was a lovely spot to visit. You’ll have plenty of time to explore, before ending the day with a 1 hour drive to Mitchell, South Dakota.
On Day 2, I recommend spending a few hours at the Corn Palace and the Prehistoric Indian Village. Spend the afternoon driving 3.5 hours across the state to Wall, South Dakota.
On Day 3 we’re going to hit all the highlights of Badlands National Park and the famous Wall Drug. Drive Badlands Loop Road. For a short visit, we recommend the Door and Window hikes as well as the Fossil Exhibit area and the exhibits at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. And be sure to stop at many of the overlooks.
Pop into Wall Drug and soak in the unique atmosphere before spending a 2nd night here on your Sioux Falls to Black Hills road trip.
Begin Day 4 with a 1.5-2 hour drive to Custer State Park. We recommend staying at one of the campgrounds or lodges inside the park. The Game Lodge or Legion Lake areas are the most central to everything you’ll see in this area. Spend the afternoon and evening driving Iron Mountain Road and exploring Mount Rushmore.
On Day 5, spend a few hours driving Wildlife Loop Road and visiting the Custer State Park visitor center and Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center. Drive Needles Highway to Sylvan Lake and enjoy a walk around.
Travel Itinerary Optional Add-On:
The evening of Day 5, drive 90 minutes north to Spearfish and spend Day 6 exploring Spearfish Canyon Highway and the surrounding area.
South Dakota truly has some hidden gems and there’s no wrong way to build a South Dakota road trip. But after driving through this beautiful state, we’d have to say that a Mount Rushmore Badlands Itinerary is pretty top notch.