Take a tour with us through the villages and city centers nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
This is the largest city in the region and the only one that should probably actually have the word “city” in its name. A wide boulevard boasting shops with native mercantile and a firehouse turned brewery—the Firehouse Brewing Company—is the welcoming and appealing main street of Rapid City. A large public park sits in the midst of town, which we looked upon from the Alternative Fuel Coffee House.
A sister city to Potsdam, Germany, Rapid City boasts WWII artifacts from Berlin, a standup up for freedom.
On the road from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore, we stopped in a quaint village we discovered en route. Hill City’s valley road is shaded by mountain faces of evergreens, filled with several art galleries, plus two wineries and two breweries. Our KOA was just a hop, skip and a jump or a six-minute drive from Hill City.
While KOA’s and campgrounds with access to amenities such as water and electricity, often mean that your tent is among a sea of RVs and all their hum, it must be noted that this KOA had the cleanest camp bathrooms and showers I’ve ever seen. The showers even had skylights.
From our campsite, we make americanos with our Bialetti and boiling water to warm up and caffeinate. In South Dakota, many a group, individual, or family is on a road trip with some distant license plate or flew in from Germany with their hiking sticks (without fail) and so there is a sense of anonymity in the fleet of temporary neighbors.
Entering the main street and hidden behind some trees was the Green Bean Coffee House and Eatery. It’s a multi-room laptop users’ dream with everything bagel breakfast sandwiches and the tunes of Bob Marley.
Spearfish is home to the Crow Peak Brewing Co., makers of a very delicious stout.
After two nights in a tent, we snagged ourselves a room at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge, a majestic retreat in the heart of the canyon with hot tubs and a teddy bear named Dakota to greet you in your room.
If you head to the restaurant across the way, try Mike’s Walleye baked in parchment paper with wild rice. Vinaigrette was misspelled on the menu, but the walleye is delicious.
In the southern part of the Black Hills lies Custer, bearing the same name as its county. It’s home to an old bank turned coffee shop, the 1881 Bank Coffee House and town tourism office operated by a man who could only be described as the most enthusiastic man in the world. He offered us chairs and tables when we needed a working space and peered through a copy of every menu in the town until we found what might satisfy our hunger and beyond.
The Black Hills are enchanting, their beauty is immense. There are several more towns I’d like to tour through on a return trip, particularly: Deadwood, Lead, and Hot Springs.