Tag Archive for: rapid city

Stratobowl Historic Hot Air Balloon Launch

Right outside Rapid City, South Dakota, lies the birthplace of the space-age Stratobowl. It was from this location in 1935 that the Army Air Corps and National Geographic Society launched a world-record-breaking manned hot air balloon. Each year in September, experienced balloonists gather to celebrate the flight.

Black Hills Powwow

Premier American Indian cultural event Black Hills Powwow-He Sapa Wacipi brings together Native American singers, dancers and drummers from all over the nation. All are welcome to come celebrate and learn more about why this event is so important to the Lakota culture. 

Scenic Cruising

At any given time of year, the open roads in western South Dakota live up to their glory. Fall scenic cruising adds colorful spice to the rolling hills of pines. Winter brings a beautiful, snow-dusted landscape, and spring brings the opportunity to spot baby wildlife amid the fresh scenery.

Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo

The largest agriculture event in western South Dakota wraps up our Western roots into one celebration. For a stretch of two weeks every January, spectators can enjoy entertainment from saddle bronc riders to roping events to livestock showings.

Visitors can enjoy scenic cruises near Rapid City year-round, like the stunning Needles Highway in Custer State Park. Photo courtesy of Jacob Moon

For more information on Rapid City, visit VisitRapidCity.com.

Mount Rushmore Evening Lighting Ceremony (May-August)

At sunset, visitors gather in the Mount Rushmore amphitheater facing the four lit faces as a park ranger begins to tell the storied history behind how this American landmark was created.

Legends in Light Laser Show (May-September)

Presented nightly after dark, the mountainside of Crazy Horse Memorial turns into a spectacular display illuminating our cultural diversity, celebrating our similarities and encouraging harmony while showcasing the story of the Native Americans

Summer Nights (May-August)

Every Thursday night, Rapid City blocks off a section downtown for summer fun. This is a true local experience with a different band each week. Enjoy music, delicious food, carnival games and much more.

Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival (September)

Just like a Wild West movie scene, a herd of 1,450 buffalo are rounded up each fall by cowboys and cowgirls on horseback at Custer State Park. This event draws thousands of spectators.

Black Hills Powwow (September)

An incredible three-day celebration of Native American culture with dancers, drummers, artwork and much more. You can experience the heritage of the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota nations all under one roof in Rapid City.

Thousands of spectators gather to watch cowboys and cowgirls round up a massive buffalo herd in Custer State Park – just like a Wild West movie scene! Photo courtesy of South Dakota Tourism

For more information on Rapid City, visit VisitRapidCity.com.

The Black Hills Powwow is one of the largest celebrations of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota cultures in the United States. This colorful event takes place each October in Rapid City, South Dakota. In 2022, it will debut in the newly built arena at the Monument, Rapid City’s entertainment mecca. Attend to hear drums and honor songs, explore Native American art, shop different vendors, and witness an explosion of color as thousands of dancers come together in their regalia and flood the arena floor.

This special event is often described as a homecoming for these cultures. The Black Hills, or Paha Sapa in Lakota, are a sacred place and the birthplace of the Great Sioux Nation. To learn more about tribal history in the Black Hills region, explore The Journey Museum & Learning Center located in downtown Rapid City, or see art, crafts, beadwork and more at Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries. More places that hold significance to Native American culture near Rapid City include Crazy Horse Memorial®, Bear Butte State Park, Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park.

The Black Hills Powwow is often described as a homecoming for the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota cultures. Attend to hear the drums and songs, explore Native American art, and witness an explosion of color as regalia-clad dancers flood the arena floor. Photo courtesy of Chad Coppess – South Dakota Tourism

For more information on Rapid City, visit VisitRapidCity.com.


The unofficial, and frankly delicious, state entrée of South Dakota is deep-fried, cubed pieces of beef or lamb. This mouthwatering appetizer is found in multiple Rapid City restaurants, but favorites include Minervas Restaurant & Bar and Dakotah Steakhouse. If you’d rather incorporate it into your main meal, try the Beef Bone Ramen from Bokujo Ramen, Rapid City’s new authentic ramen restaurant.

Buffalo burgers, steaks and more

South Dakota produces the largest number of bison for farming in the United States due to the animal’s nativity to the Great Plains. Chances are if your Rapid City dining location has burgers, they’ll also have a bison burger option like at Firehouse Brewing Co. Beyond burgers, head to Tally’s Silver Spoon for breakfast and enjoy buffalo hanger steak and eggs. For lunch or dinner, try Murphey’s Pub & Grill for savory buffalo meatloaf.

Pickle beer

Simply add a pickle spear to your favorite light draft beer to enjoy an iconic South Dakota drink – an odd combination (unless you’re from the state) that you can find at any sports bar. Or, if you’d rather try small-batch local brews, Rapid City is home to the largest collection of craft breweries on the western side of the state.

If your Rapid City dining option has burgers, chances are they’ll also offer a bison burger option (like here at Firehouse Brewing). Photo courtesy of Visit Rapid City

For more information on Rapid City, visit VisitRapidCity.com.

*At this time, most locations do not have COVID-19 protocols. Contact each venue for up-to-date information.

Summer Nights (May-August): Weekly downtown concert series with live music and street vendors.

Mount Rushmore Evening Lighting Ceremony (May-September): View America’s Shrine of Democracy after sunset and listen to a park ranger speak about the monument’s history.

Crazy Horse Memorial Volksmarches (June and September): Bi-annual 10K to the arm of the world’s largest mountain-carving-in-progress.

Hills Alive Summer Music Festival (July): Music festival featuring the best of Christian artists on two stages over two days.

Kool Deadwood Nights (August): Rock ‘n’ roll Main Street experience with classic cars, classic music and a parade.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (August): The world’s largest motorcycle rally, including scenic rides, concerts, entertainment and street food.

Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival (September): Cowboys, cowgirls and park rangers round up a herd of over 1,300 buffalo. Pair with Custer State Park’s three-day Arts Festival.

Pumpkin Festival (September): Downtown Rapid City’s biggest festival, featuring pumpkin catapults and weigh-offs, vendors and more.

Bierbörse Festival (October): Beer stock exchange, activities and polka music.

Black Hills Powwow (October): Native American dancers and drum groups gather for one of the nation’s largest powwows.

Native American dancers and drum groups gather for one of the nation’s largest powwows at the Black Hills Powwow each October in Rapid City. Photo courtesy South Dakota Tourism

For more information on Rapid City, visit VisitRapidCity.com.

Unique and unexpected, Rapid City’s Sioux Pottery features handmade collectibles created by local Native American Sioux Indian artists. Intricate pottery pieces and specialty items are formed from red clay dug up just outside of Rapid City, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The Paha Sapa (Black Hills) have provided food, shelter and substance for the Great Sioux Nation for decades, and the area continues to produce red clay today. Visitors to Sioux Pottery can not only purchase one-of-a-kind pottery, but also see the entire process from start to finish. Each piece is poured, shaped, fired in a kiln, sanded for finishing, painted and carved with designs and symbols important to the Lakota culture.

In 2020, Sioux Pottery was selected to participate in the Made In American Product Showcase at the White House – an annual show that highlighted American-made products from each of the 50 states.

Intricate pottery pieces and specialty items at Rapid City’s Sioux Pottery are formed from red clay dug up in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Courtesy Visit Rapid City

For more information on Rapid City, visit VisitRapidCity.com.

In the Rapid City area, traveling to your destination is part of the experience. Take in the brilliant display of granite spires, eroding buttes and captivating waterfalls on these top 10 scenic drives. (Friendly reminder: Our beautiful scenic drives have sharp/tight corners. Drive with care!)

One of the most famous scenic drives in the Black Hills is along Highway 16A. This highway offers amazing views of Mount Rushmore (perfectly framed), the Black Hills, Needles Highway and Custer State Park. This drive also gives groups the opportunity to drive through a handful of scenic tunnels. These beautiful granite passageways are known to be narrow, but don’t let that shy you away from this epic experience.

Forget the long commute. Stay in Rapid City and you’ll be within an hour’s drive from some pretty spectacular places.

A motorcoach bus squeezes between some rock walls on the Needles Highway in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Courtesy Visit Rapid City

For more information on Rapid City, visit VisitRapidCity.com.

Stephen Yellowhawk was born in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was inspired to dance and learn more about his culture primarily from some situations that arose in his schooling. His grandfather then created his first regalia, and he started dancing at 14 years old.

“Traditional dancing and my Christian belief have strengthened my self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect and love for all my relatives,” Stephen said. “It has opened many doors and created many paths for my family and I.”He has been the board president for the Black Hills Powwow Association for 10 years and has seen this powwow become one of the largest in the world.

“This leadership opportunity is a blessing for me. My grandfather has told me stories of coming to visit Rapid City in the 1950s, and things were quite different here then,” Stephen said. “He says he remembers seeing signs on some of the store fronts that said ‘No Indians allowed,’ but now to have one of the largest powwows in the world in this same community shows how far we have come as a community, working on building bridges within our diverse community.”

The Black Hills Powwow has become one of the largest in the world. Courtesy

For more information on Rapid City, visit VisitRapidCity.com.

Dakota Drum Company

Dakota Drum Company has been in business for 20 years and specializes in traditional buffalo hide drums, powwow drums and traditional buffalo hide drums hand-painted by Lakota and Sioux artist Sonja Holy Eagle, who has won many major art show awards.

Known for their traditional buffalo hide drums made from hand-scraped buffalo rawhide with cottonwood frames, as well as one-sided drums, they pride themselves on the quality of their products and their Native American art.

They also carry hide paintings by Sonja, along with traditional beadwork and quillwork by artists from the Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations. You can also find beautiful buffalo robes, sweetgrass and sage, along with many other traditional arts.

Dakota Drum Company

Star of the West Hat Company

Star of the West Hat Company is known for hat refurbishing and custom felt hats that will ship all over the world! In their 20-year history, they have had the privilege of building hats for everyone from ranchers and rodeo cowboys to musicians and movie sets.

The store is pretty small, but they are able to show the kinds of equipment and materials that go into building hats as well as the process of building hats. With a small work area, there could be some hands-on experience for interested groups!

Star of the West Hat Company

Suzi Cappa Art Center

Suzie Cappa Art Center is a downtown non-profit studio and gallery where artists of all abilities create, exhibit and market their work. It offers an inspirational atmosphere for artists and visitors alike and is a division of Black Hills Works, which provides services and support to more than 630 adults with disabilities. Creations by their artists are sold nationwide and may be viewed and purchased on their website.

Suzie Cappa Art Center

For more information on Rapid City, visit VisitRapidCity.com.

Chislic Festival

July 25, 2020

Freeman, South Dakota

Website: https://www.sdchislicfestival.com

Chislic is a South Dakota tradition – especially in southeastern South Dakota. Legend says it was brought to that corner of our state in the 1800s by German/Russian immigrants. Today, chislic (beef or lamb on a stick) has grown from humble origins to a dish that was declared the official “nosh” of South Dakota in 2018. One year later, the first-ever Chislic Festival in Freeman attracted more than 8,000 people! Come enjoy this flavorful festival and celebrate with cooking competitions, live entertainment and more.

Chislic Festival. Credit: South Dakota Tourism

80th Anniversary of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

August 7-16, 2020

Sturgis, South Dakota

Website: https://sturgismotorcyclerally.com

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is one of the world’s oldest and largest motorcycle gatherings, offering incredible riding, exhibitors, motorcycle shows, demo rides, racing, concerts and much more. Find out why this international phenomenon draws motorcycle legends, superstars and hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts to the Black Hills each year. It’s also listed as one of the “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.”

Main Street at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Credit: South Dakota Tourism

Black Hills Powwow

October 9-11, 2020

Rapid City, South Dakota

Website: https://www.blackhillspowwow.com

The Black Hills Powwow (or He Sapa Wacipi Na Oskate) is a preeminent Black Hills event featuring three days filled with Native American singing, dancing, drum groups, art displays, hand games, athletic competitions, and a variety of other events. Over the decades, the Black Hills Powwow has become one of the premier American Indian cultural events in the United States, attracting hundreds of dancers, singers, artisans as well as thousands of spectators from across North America.

Black Hills Powwow. Credit: South Dakota Tourism


For more information on the Great American West state of South Dakota, visit TravelSouthDakota.com.