Thu, Sep 6: Arrive in Rapid City, South Dakota. Travel to Badlands National Park to see the chiseled spires, deep canyons and jagged buttes that millions of years of wind, water and erosion have created. Stop at America's favorite roadside attraction, Wall Drug Store. Transfer to Keystone and check in to the K Bar S Lodge for the next two nights. Enjoy dinner at the hotel. (Meal: Dinner)
Fri, Sep 7: Take an off-road wildlife Jeep tour through Custer State Park followed by lunch on the grounds of the State Game Lodge, which once served as the “Summer White House” for President Calvin Coolidge and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park is the second largest state park in America and encompasses 71,000 spectacular acres of prairies, pine trees, and unique pillar-shaped, slender granite outcroppings called “Needles.” The park is home to many animals including elk, mountain lions, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and over 1,300 bison – one of the largest herds in the world. Visit the world’s largest mountain carving, Crazy Horse Memorial, and take a ride to the bottom of the monument for a unique view. Spend the remainder of the day exploring Mount Rushmore, including the unforgettable evening lighting program, an inspirational program focusing on the presidents, patriotism and the nation's history, culminating in the lighting of the memorial. (B,L)
Sat, Sep 8: Check out of the Lodge. Board the 1880 Train for a narrated ride to Hill City. Glide over the rugged landscape aboard a vintage steam train, like those that helped settle the Great American West. Transfer to Deadwood and meet a local guide for a city tour. The legends that surround this small Gold Rush boomtown are known for being some of the roughest and toughest outlaws around. See first-hand where “Wild Bill” Hickok and Calamity Jane walked and were laid to rest and learn about Custer’s 1874 expedition to the Black Hills and Deadwood’s history as a lawless gold camp. Check in to the Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel, then enjoy a visit to the legendary Saloon No.10, where “Wild Bill” Hickok met his demise. (B,L,D)
Sun, Sep 9: Travel across the state line into northeast Wyoming and witness Devils Tower National Monument, a solitary, stump-shaped granite formation looming 1,267 feet above the tree-lined valley, steeped in Indian legend. Stop to see Prairie Dog Town before taking a breathtaking drive through Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway for lunch at the historic Latchstring Inn. Back in Deadwood visit Tatanka: Story of the Bison, which tells the story of the 30-60 million bison that once roamed the Great Plains and the devastating massacre that wiped out all of them, save 1,000. The evening is yours to enjoy at leisure. (B,L)
Mon, Sep 10: Take a guided tour of the city of Lead, and a surface tour of Sanford Underground Research Facility. The Sanford Lab Homestake Visitors Center is located on the edge of the historic site of the original 1876 gold strike, where 40 million ounces of gold were produced. This 1,250-feet-deep, half-mile wide manmade wonder is an iconic landmark in the Black Hills. Today the mine has been converted to a deep underground science and technology center. The exhibit hall has information about Sanford Underground Research Facility, the city of Lead and the history of Homestake, and features a 3-D model of the underground — from the surface down to 8,000 feet. Transfer to the airport in Rapid City and fly home. (B)
K Bar S Lodge, Keystone, South Dakota
Nestled in the Black Hills, this family-friendly lodge is situated in a wooded valley with a view of Mount Rushmore. Highlights: spacious guestrooms with air conditioning • in-room coffeemaker • complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access • bar/ lounge • fitness center.
Deadwood Mountain Grand, A Holiday Inn Resort
Perched on a hill overlooking Historic Deadwood, the hotel features stunning views from multiple decks and patios and rich historic photos throughout the property. Enjoy lounging by the grand stone fireplace or relax in the spa’s indoor pool and hot tub. Highlights: contemporary guestrooms with Serta Advanced Comfort Quilt Mattress and custom built furniture • luxurious bath amenities • in-room mini-refrigerator and coffee/tea maker • iPod docking alarm clock radio • complimentary high speed and Wi-Fi Internet access • two restaurants • three bars • casino • spa • fitness center • indoor pool and spa.