Black Hills EventsIn addition to its many cultural and historic landmarks, this destination hosts a number of exceptional festivals and events that may coincide with your trip.
Robust traditions of the West echo through the Black Hills during its many festivities, revitalizing even the most worn-out sightseer. Travelers used to sneakers and baseball caps will be kicking dirt off snakeskin boots and tipping leather-trimmed cowboy hats at rodeos, historical celebrations and cultural gatherings.
Fun Things to Do in Winter and Spring
Beginning in late January and extending into February, the award-winning Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo lures more than 300,000 people to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City , offering various horse events, a trade show and an antique auction.
Take advantage of waived entrance and fishing license fees during Custer State Park Spring Open House in mid-May. Hayrides, cookouts, gold panning and a buffalo chip throwing contest are enjoyable additions to the natural beauty of the park.
Festivals and Celebrations in Summer
The narrow thoroughfare in Deadwood bursts at its seams during Wild Bill Days in mid-June. Musicians strum guitar strings well into the evening while historical re-enactments and the Cowboy World Fast Draw Championships mark gunslingers' return to the Wild West.
In 1874, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer's cavalry found gold on the banks of French Creek. Gold Discovery Days in late July commemorate this momentous unearthing with a parade through downtown Custer City , a car show, a pancake breakfast, a boat regatta and a hot-air-balloon rally.
Saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling and roping events electrify spectators during the Black Hills Roundup Rodeo in Belle Fourche . Aside from its equestrian draw, a parade, barbecue and art exhibition add to the July event's appeal.
The popular Mount Rushmore Independence Day Celebration at the national memorial features historical salutes and bands on both July 3rd and 4th.
Sturgis Bicycle, Art and Music Festival in mid-July takes place at Sturgis City Park and includes bicycle, art and music events and activities. A different local musician or band performance on the main stage every hour; bicycle races and rides; art for sale and artist demonstrations; and children's activities are highlights of this festival.
In August, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally welcomes more than 500,000 inimitable bike enthusiasts to the week-long event. First-rate machinery and races reign supreme, although coordinated sightseeing tours; merchandise, from bike parts to jewelry to T-shirts; and such exotic foods as alligator and ostrich bites generate more than just an adrenaline rush.
What to Do in Fall and Early Winter
Performers at the Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in late September educate and entertain audiences with storytelling, poetry reading and singing. Spotlighting the life of the cowboy, the Hot Springs event honors a 20th-century poet who chronicled the Western lifestyle.
Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival in late September prepares the herd at Custer State Park for the fall auction, when about 450 surplus bison are sold. Artisans display their wares across from the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center while festivalgoers enjoy musical acts, square dancing and the best chili around. As many as 30 contestants compete in the Buffalo Wallow Chili Cook-off .
In October, more than 400 tribes attending the Black Hills Powwow evoke their Native American heritage through traditional dance, music and art. Educational presentations, a parade and a marketplace enhance this Rapid City event.
Several area gatherings herald the advent of winter and the holiday season in Black Hills. Beginning Thanksgiving weekend, enjoy a festival of lights parade at Rapid City's Holiday Celebration . Hot Springs is crammed with holiday gifts, decorations and activities during Christmas in the Hills in early December. The Sturgis Parade of Lights illuminates the streets of downtown in early December with more than 30 floats decorated with festive lights.
See all the AAA recommended fun things to do and events for this destination.
Black Hills, SD
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.