Mount Rushmore is located just five miles east of the campground. Guests visit in the daytime for picture taking and to visit the sculptor's studio, new interpretive center and the concession. There is also the new Presidential Trail that allows visitors to walk along the base of the sculpture for striking views never before available. Visitors this year will also be the first to experience the new interpretive center with state of the art displays recreating the carving of the mountain and the history of the four presidents depicted. Completed just last year is the new Amphitheater. In the evening, there is a very patriotic and inspiring Lighting Ceremony in which the ranger gives a presentation, followed by a film about the four presidents, and then the monument is lighted. We offer shuttle service from the campground to the lighting service nightly. KOA guests sign up each morning for seats for that evening's program on a first-come first-served basis. This popular service allows our guests to leave their RVs hooked up and helps prevent parking congestion at the monument.
Located in the shadow of Mount Rushmore in the historic town of Keystone, the National Presidential Wax Museum is an impressive highlight on any traveler's itinerary. Featuring the works of world-famous wax artist Katherine Stubergh, the National Presidential Wax Museum features over 100 lifesize wax sculptures of some of the most iconic figures in American history. We invite you to witness the history of American Democracy from its inception.
The Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial is located 10 miles south of the KOA. Crazy Horse is a mountain carving in progress that dwarfs Mount Rushmore. This carving is in the round with the 90' high face dedicated in June 1998, which marked the mountain's 50th anniversary since the first carving began. In addition, there is an Indian Museum and a collection of the sculptor's other works.
One of the nation's largest state parks is just eight miles away. The parks 73,000 acres abound in scenic drives, buffalo, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and sparkling lakes. Also nestled in Custer State Park is the Black Hills Playhouse famous for its Broadway caliber plays with a quaint "woods" setting.
The Black Hills National Forest surrounds the resort, which is located in the very heart of the Forest. Our trail rides go into the Black Elk Wilderness Area, just a mile from the campground. Hiking trails to Harney Peak, the highest point in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, begin right at the KOA. The Centennial Trail and the Mickelson Rails to Trails are within four miles of the KOA. Imagine the pristine views and the quiet nature that you'll enjoy right from your campsite!
The KOA is located right on the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, a thirty mile loop that is selected as one of the top ten scenic byways in America. On the loop, you will meander through the Iron Mountain Road which was built strictly for scenery, featuring hairpin turns, pigtail bridges, scenic overlooks, and tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore. The byway takes you through Custer State Park and over the Needles Highway, another road built for scenery. This one has unusual granite formations, tunnels, and overlooks. The third part of the byway is Highway 244 right in front of the campground. This is the Gutzon Borglum Memorial Highway that takes you to Mount Rushmore, with spectacular views of the Monument. To completely enjoy the sights along the byway consider a bus tour and leave the driving to us!
Both parks are located within 45 minutes of the KOA. These parks not only have cave tours, but interpretive surface facilities as well. Wind Cave is a "dry cave" or a "box cave" with few crystal formations but a great tour through the intricate web of the underground. Buffalo, elk and antelope roam the surrounding park area. Jewel Cave has over 100 miles of explored passageway and is believed to be the third largest cavern in the world. This is a must see for spelunkers--novice or expert.
The Rapid City area is featured on the third day. On the way to Rapid City, you will see Bear Country, Reptile Gardens, and the Black Hills Maze. In Rapid City, visit the Journey Museum, Storybook Island Children's Park, Stavkirke's Chapel in the Hills, and Dinosaur Park. East of Rapid City, the Air and Space Museum is located at Ellsworth Air Force Base. Fifty miles East on I-90 is the famous Wall Drug and the Badlands National Park.
Guests can enjoy some sleeping in time for this day trip plan on leaving around 10:00 am by going right out of the campground on Hwy 244, turn right on Hwy 385/16 into Hill City.
Continue on Highway out of Hill City; at Junction 16-385 turn left on Highway 385. Settle in for a beautiful drive passed breathtaking sites like Pactola Lake.
Does someone in the group like to fish or likes to eat fish? Stop at Trout Haven for lunch. They will furnish equipment, bait, everything with no license needed. Then their full menu Pier Cafe will fry your catch, or pack your trout to go. Catching the fish takes no time at all!!!
Continue on Hwy 385 till the Deadwood-Lead junction. Turn left into Lead to visit the Homestake Visitor Center Gold Mine located at 106 W. Main St. http://www.homestaketour.com Begin your day learning how the Gold Rush started.
Leave Lead and continue back on the Highway into Deadwood. http://www.deadwood.org . Upon, entering Deadwood it will look like a small town in South Dakota but all of the sudden bump bump bump don't worry you do not have a flat your just traveling on a cobblestone road. Park your car and take advantage of Deadwood's city Trolley. At this point you have some choices gaming is everywhere in this Old West Town or you can take advantage of the many museums. Adams Museum and House http://www.adamsmuseumandhouse.org is a favorite along with Mt Moriah Cemetery, the Bullock Motel is haunted, and Kevin Costner has a museum here. Deadwood is also a staff favorite for their many delicious buffets.
Start the day in Hill City touring the town's several fine art galleries: Jon Crane's Watercolor Gallery, http://joncranewatercolors.com , Spring Creek Traders, Deborah Carroll's Snow Creek Gallery and Randy Berger's Warrior's Works Studio and Gallery to name a few. Visit Everything Prehistoric http://www.everythingprehistoric.com a free museum with Stan, a real T. Rex! Shopping is in abundance here. When through exploring Hill City hop on the 1880 train http://www.1880train.com (make reservations earlier) to a breathtaking trip to Keystone through some 'back country' of the Hills. Once there plan on spending a couple of hours visiting their shops and museums including Borglum Historical Center and National Presidential Wax Museum http://www.presidentialwaxmuseum.com/. The taffy sold in the Dakota Store on the campground is actually made in Keystone, the smell in that shop is utterly out of this world. Take a trip on a scenic chair life and take a thrilling ride down a sensational slide at the President's Alpine Slide http://www.presidentsslide.com . Next, play a game of historically fun mini-golf at the Holy Terror Mini-golf http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/business/holy-terror-mini-golf next to the President's Wax Museum.
These are a few examples of things to see and do in the Black Hills there are tons more. Wild Horse Sanctuary, Evans Plunge, Journey Museum, Reptile Gardens, Wade's Gold Mine, Old McDonald's Farm, plus the many caves to explore are just a few examples. Check out our links page at www.palmergulch.com for more ideas or stop in the office and ask any of the staff.