From half-day tours to weeks-long adventures, there are several tour companies in the area that can provide guided tours to the local attractions and activities. Each company has a slightly different offering.
ABS Travel Group (945 Enchantment Rd., 605/791-2520 or 888/788-6777, www.abstravelgroup.com, $60–115) specializes small-group tours of 4–5 hours. Generally, only two sites per day are included, for instance Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, or Rapid City and Crazy Horse, or Wall Drug and the Badlands.
Affordable Adventures (409 N. Ellsworth, Box Elder, 605/342-7691 or 888/888-8249, www.affordableadventuresbh.com, $40–105), another small-group tour company, offers tours of 4–8 hours.
Mount Rushmore Tours (605/343-3113 or 888/343-3113, www.rushmoretours.com, adult $49–69, child $24.50–34.50) offers two tours. A nine-hour tour of the Black Hills includes a cowboy breakfast and a chuck wagon dinner at Fort Hays, where part of Dances with Wolves was filmed. The other tour does not include meals.
Gray Line of the Black Hills (1600 E. St. Patrick St., 605/342-4461 or 800/456-4461, www.blackhillsgrayline.com, adult $40–60, child $20–30) offers classic bus tours. Tour 1 is a nine-hour Black Hills tour that includes Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Custer State Park. Tour 2 brings visitors to Mount Rushmore for the July 4 fireworks and lighting of the mountain. Tour 3 brings tourists to the annual Buffalo Roundup in Custer State Park.
Three “non-standard” tour companies in Rapid City offer completely different experiences. Black Hills Adventure Tours (201 N. 44th St., 605/209-7817, www.blackhillsadventuretours.com, $109–159) offers traditional sightseeing tours, as well as tours geared toward the active visitor. Guided tour selections include Mickelson Trail bike rides, Badlands hikes, Spearfish Canyon hikes, Pactola Lake kayaking, and other action-oriented tours.
At Prairie Edge Trading Company and Galleries, Go Native Tours (606 Main St., 888/800-1876, www.gonativeamerica.com, $175 per day, $3,500 per week) offers small-group tours throughout the Native American West. Tours focus on history and cultural education, and range 1–14 days. You can see Paha Sapa (the Black Hills) through the eyes and perspective of a Native American guide. Other tours visit Cheyenne Country in Wyoming, Navaho and Hopi lands in New Mexico, Apache land in Arizona, the Pine Ridge Reservation (including Wounded Knee), and Maco Sica (the Badlands).
Wild West Vacations and Travel (519 Stumer Rd., 888/237-9378, www.wildwestvacationsandtravel.com, two adults $1,895–2,425, families of four people $1,995–2,475) has created complete five- to seven-day vacation itineraries for its customers. Packages include lodging, many of the meals, activities ranging from horseback riding, gold panning, theme parks, and chuck wagon dinners. They plan the vacation, and you just pack your bags and show up at the appointed hour.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition