Ranging from medium to x-small, there are a few local villages and townships nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We did not get to explore them all, but a number of them are on our itinerary for the next time; notably: Deadwood, Lead, and Hot Springs.
Here is a look at the main thoroughfares we did get to visit.
Photo credit: DowntownRapidCity.com
This is the largest city in the region and the only one that should probably actually have city in its name. A wide boulevard boasting shops with native mercantile and a firehouse turned brewery, named the Firehouse Brewing Company, is the welcoming and appealing main street of Rapid City. A large public park stands in the midst of town and was our viewpoint from the Alternative Fuel Coffee House.
On the road down from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore, I couldn’t help but notice the quaint village we passed through en route. It’s one lone road shaded by mountain faces of evergreens and filled with several art galleries, not to mention 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 betwixt a sea of RVs and all their hum, it must be noted that this KOA had some of the cleanest bathrooms I’ve seen… anywhere.
Our KOA abode
In the morning from our campsite we make a café allongé 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 tunes of Bob Marley to boot.
The majestic drive in on our sunny day of arrival
Spearfish is also home to the Crow Peak Brewing Co., makers of a very delicious stout.
Cozy lobby fit for red wine and a good read
After two nights in a tent, we got ourselves a room at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge, a majestic retreat in the heart of the canyon with hot tubs and a stuffed bear named Dakota who greets you in your room.
I almost took this cub home
If you head to the restaurant across the way, try Mike’s Walleye baked in parchment paper with wild rice. The lighting is a tad bright and “vinaigrette” is misspelled on the menu, but the walleye is delicious.
To the southern part of the tour of the Black Hills lies Custer, bearing the same name as its county and home to a town just shy of quaint save for an old bank turned coffee shop—the 1881 Bank Coffee House—and a man working at the town’s tourism office 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 would satisfy our hunger.