The South Dakota Department of Tourism is a great resource and can be reached at 800/S-DAKOTA (800/732-5682, www.travelsd.com ). Free visitor packages can be obtained by calling or making contact through the website. The state of South Dakota is dedicated to increasing tourism to the state and has committed a great deal of resources to accomplish that end.
The South Dakota Department Game, Fish and Parks (www.sdgfp.info ) can provide information about parks and recreation facilities (605/773-3391) and hunting and fishing licenses (605/223-3485), and can help make reservations at state campgrounds (800/710-2267).
It is easy to become directionally impaired in the hills, particular in the Central Hills , where the roads wind around the peaks. Almost all of the businesses in the Black Hills  carry a regional map of the Black Hills created by Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes. This relatively simple map is a great help, so keep one in your glove compartment. In addition to the regional map, most of the towns in the hills have street maps available at Chamber of Commerce offices.
For hikers, bikers, and other recreation fans, some of the best trail and recreational information can be downloaded for free from the National Forest and National Park websites. In addition to hiking and biking guides, the National Forest Service has campground guides, recreation area guides, snowmobile trail guides, and other information about recreation opportunities in the Black Hills National Forest.
There are four National Forest offices in the Black Hills, in Spearfish  (605/642-4622), in Custer  (605/673-4853), in Rapid City  (605/343-1567), and at Pactola Reservoir (605/343-8755, Memorial Day–Labor Day). The Forest Supervisor’s Office is also in Custer and can be reached at 605/673-9200. Regional hiking and biking maps are also available at the visitors centers in all of the National Recreation spots in the hills, including Jewel Cave , Mount Rushmore , Wind Cave , Custer State Park , and Badlands National Park .
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, most restaurants, attractions, and retail shops geared toward tourism are open seven days a week. Closing times vary, but most attractions are open until 8 p.m., retail until 6 p.m., and restaurants are generally closed by 9–10 p.m. In some of the smaller towns, however, Sunday can be iffy for retail. If you are planning on a day of shopping, try to fit that in between Monday and Saturday to avoid disappointment.
The shoulder of the tourist season—comprising early May, September, and October—generally brings shorter hours for all tourist-related industries and more Sunday closures for retail. Most restaurants, hotels, and attractions remain open through at least October 15. The winter season brings a lot of closures. It is always a good idea, between October and April, to call for information before you head to any particular location. Season’s end can vary with weather or traffic patterns.
There are still a few locations, particularly in the smaller towns, that do not take credit cards. Glance at an establishment’s doors and windows for stickers that identify the kinds of charge cards a store or restaurant will accept; if there is nothing in the window, be sure to ask. Cash works best in those spots, and you’ll find that most towns have ATMs. Travelers checks are accepted everywhere, though most locations in the Black Hills  will not accept anything but local personal checks.
Prices marked on all goods for sale in South Dakota do not reflect sales taxes. The state sales tax is 4 percent, there is a 1.5 percent tourism tax for many industries during the summer months, and there are city sales taxes as well, which add another 1–2 percent.
There are many categories of personal service workers who receive monetary tips for their services. Restaurant workers and taxi drivers typically receive 15–20 percent of the bill, and bellhops and airport porters expect to receive $1 per bag. If you elect to take a tour, it is appropriate to tip tour guides and/or drivers. For van tours, a nice tip is $5 per person, though don’t be afraid to contribute more if the tour was exceptionally fun and informative. For large motorcoach tours, a reasonable tip is in the range of $3 per person.
Cell phone reception in the Black Hills is sporadic. While reception is fine in most of the local communities, once you get into some of the more remote locations, like the Badlands and the wilderness areas of the state, signals can frequently be blocked. If you are planning to do any backcountry hiking or camping, remember to notify rangers of your plans. If you run into trouble, you may not be able to call anyone.
Most electrical outlets in the United States use 110–220 volt electricity. Most outlets are three-pronged with two flat and one round grounding prong. Older buildings may have just two-pronged plugs. In those circumstances, most hardware stores will have a converter that will allow you to use the three-pronged appliance in an older outlet.