By AAA Travel Editor Frank Swanson
October 08, 2021
Approaching the Black Hills of South Dakota through the rolling grasslands surrounding them, it’s easy to see how this isolated mountain range got its name. From a distance, these hills covered with thick ponderosa pine forest look like a black rumpled blanket. It’s a beautiful wilderness of craggy rock formations, peaceful woods and sparkling creeks that call to anyone eager to vacation in nature.
And then there’s the manmade features that make this destination stand head and shoulders (so to speak) above the rest: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, that massive cliff-side carving of four U.S. presidents, and the Crazy Horse Memorial, a similar feat of large-scale artistry and work-in-progress honoring Native Americans of all tribes.
From deep caves to the highest point east of the Rockies, the Black Hills packs a lot of things to see into a small territory making it an ideal location for road trips. In fact, AAA has created two routes that show off this area’s incredible beauty: the Black Hills Road Trip and The Needles Scenic Highway Road Trip.
Besides giving you the freedom to explore whatever sights you choose, a journey by car is also one of the most affordable ways to travel. To help you plan a Black Hills vacation on a budget, take a look at these AAA Three Diamond hotels and restaurants, which offer great value and great locations.