Main Street of Keystone South Dakota located in the Black Hills near rv camp site and cabin camping Holy Smoke Resort

Your Budget Friendly Black Hills Vacation

With the rising concerns of inflation, cost of gas, groceries, and interest rates, an affordable family vacation is a MUST – and there’s still time to squeeze on in this summer!

The Black Hills of South Dakota has been a popular vacation spot for families, especially those within driving distance, due to the many free and budget friendly options parents can find for themselves and their children. We are also becoming a popular destination for young adults and couples who loves the great outdoors or want to know more about our part of the country’s rich history.

Of course, there are the staples: 

And other family favorites nearby:

Main Street of Keystone South Dakota located in the Black Hills near rv camp site and cabin camping Holy Smoke ResortHowever, we want to share a few activities to check out that are also FREE!

Make a stop at Dahl’s Chainsaw Carving to watch the artist Jarrett Dahl in action! He carves bears, eagles, and more out of wood with a chainsaw! The gallery showcases his creations available for purchase and Jarrett can also create an original carving for you. This is a must stop photo opportunity and the show will wow the kids (and you!).

Explore Keystone by following the numbered signs of the Old Town Walking Tour.

There are a total of 19 stations throughout the tour, each stop sharing the history of Keystone’s unique history and how its growth impacted our area of the Black Hills. It’s a great way to get those steps in, snap some photos, and learn more about the city nearby Holy Smoke Resort!

Those seeking adventure will want to check out Wind Cave National Park, one of the most complex caves in the world, and Jewel Cave National Monument – with over 210 miles of mapped and surveyed passages, its the longest cave in the world!. Admission to each of the cave’s parks are free, with tour prices ranging based on age and the tour you choose. Check other their websites for fee free days!

For visitors staying with us for the peace and quiet, but interested in seeing the “City” during the day – check out these Top 10 Free Attractions in (and around) Rapid City

The list covers a ton of must-see stops and offers a good variety to hit everyone’s interests. Military buffs will be interested in the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, while Prairie Edge Trading Company showcases the heritage and culture of the Northern Plains Indians, and the Chapel in the Hills is a replica of the famous Borgund Stavkirke of Leardal, Norway!

And of course, families with young children (or even those who are just young at heart) will want to stop by Dinosaur Park and Storybook Island!

If you’re more interested in scenic cruises or outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, and paddlesports, then you’ll want to read our blog Outdoor Adventures in the Black Hills.

Only here for a few days? Read up on our Black Hills 2 Day Vacation Itinerary!

Still looking for a place to stay? Check out our rv sites, cabins, and vacation rentals or give us a call and we’ll help you make your reservation.

Black Hills 2 Day Vacation Itinerary

Here in the Black Hills but only have limited time?

We’ve created an adventure-filled, two-day itinerary option for you!

With Mount Rushmore National Memorial only 4.2 miles from Holy Smoke Resort, this is an obvious place to go – and honestly, it’s probably one of (if not THE) main reason most of our visitors come to western South Dakota. Unsurprisingly, Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park are also common locations that draw people to the area.

The plan below can be interchanged to best fit your family and fellow travelers, and if you have any questions at all – be sure to let us know any time during your stay at Holy Smoke Resort so we can help you out!

DAY 1: Mount Rushmore and Downtown Keystone

  • We recommend heading south to the Powder House to fuel up on a tasty and filling breakfast and coffee to get your day started. This is also a great place for lunch or dinner.
  • On your way to Mount Rushmore, be sure to spend some time in downtown Keystone.

Rushmore Tramway Adventures is the perfect place to bring the kids and burn off some energy. With a zipline tour, alpine slide, aerial adventure park, and more; it’s a fun way to spend your morning!

Dahl’s Chainsaw Art is an impressive gallery featuring, you guessed it, chainsaw carvings! Black Hills Glass Blowers, Black Hills Gifts & Gold, Turtle Town, and Iron Creek Leather are also notable shops we recommend you swing in and visit.

The Big Thunder Gold Mine is a fascinating mining museum in a replica 1895 gold mill. With guided tours of the old gold min and gold and gem panning, it’s a fascinating experience for all ages.

Make the stop for a refreshing treat too! Order the VANILLA ice cream cone – because the recipe is from Thomas Jefferson.

If you time your visit after Memorial Day, be sure to spend the evening for the Mount Rushmore evening lighting ceremony! After sunset, a park ranger shares the history of the monument in this spectacular and patriotic scenery.

DAY 2: Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park

  • Custer State Park encompasses 71,000 acres!! Grab your breakfast to-go and enjoy the scenic drive as you make your way from Holy Smoke to the park.

Hikers will want to hit the trails of the park where breathtaking views of granite spires and the Black Hills await you. Make the stop at Sylvan Lake – consider the crown jewel of Custer State Park – for a tranquil stroll around the lake or pick up a paddleboard or kayak (available for rent – ask our front desk for details) and take your adventure to the water!

The best part of making this an early morning activity is the Wildlife Loop – with the cooler temperatures, it’s more likely the buffalo and begging burros will be out!

PS… do NOT pet the buffalo!!!!

  • Crazy Horse Memorial is much more than a memorial, be sure to explore the campus and the incredible exhibits and gallery available for learning about American Indian history and culture.

Take a tour! Grab a ride on the bus and get a close-up view of the Crazy Horse carving – those who choose to make a charitable gift will also have the opportunity of standing on the arm of the memorial.

Visitors who come between Memorial Day weekend through the end of September are in for another after-sunset show. Reserve one of your nights in the Black Hills to see the “Legends in Light” laser light show that is displayed on the side of the mountain!

Now that you’ve stayed with us for the last two days, were we able to charm you into staying for an additional day or so in the Black Hills? Add these must-visit stops!

Reptile Gardens
Bear Country USA
1880 Train (there’s a stop in downtown Keystone!)
Rushmore Mountain Adventure Park
National Presidential Wax Museum
Holy Terror Mini Golf
Rockin’ R Trail Rides

…and more!!

Let us know what you’re looking for in your Black Hills vacation when you book your RV site or cabin.

We’ll be happy to help you create your perfect getaway!

Multi-generational family with dog

Planning your 2022 family vacation!

Multi-generational family with dogWhy does it feel like it’s getting harder and harder to plan a family vacation that everyone is going to enjoy? 

After all, a family vacation sounds simple.

Pick a place. Go there. Have fun. Make memories. Come home.

Easy, right?

We have found, the challenge comes when parents are trying to pick a summer vacation that will entertain and interest everyone in the family – brothers, sisters, toddlers, teens, and even grandma and grandpa. Sometimes, that also means bringing fido along too! So now, you have a group of people with not only different interests but also various ages.

In short, you’re looking for an affordable way for your entire family to take a break and have some relaxation… and unplug for a little while. Maybe see a part of the country you’ve never been to or you find yourself looking for places with things to do that are only within a day or two’s drive.

We are a little biased, but the Black Hills of South Dakota is the perfect location for your next multi-generational family vacation. 

We have history, outdoor adventure, wildlife experiences, shopping, dining, and so much more – for families of all ages and stages! There really is something for everyone here in the Black Hills. Plus, we have absolutely stunning views, and seeing wildlife is easily an everyday occurrence. 

Parents of little ones will enjoy seeing their children’s eyes light up at the live shows at Reptile Gardens and playing with storybook characters at Storybook Island.

Experience the 1880 Train, Rush Mountain Adventure Park, and Big Thunder Gold Mine to keep pre-teens and teenagers engaged and satisfy their need for thrill-seeking. You can also stop by Rushmore Cave if you want to squeeze in a 7-D video game experience. They’ll have so much to share with their friends on TikTok and Instagram!

If Grandma and Grandpa are art and history lovers, this is the vacation of a lifetime for them. The Black Hills is probably most known for our Native American culture and history as much as we are known for Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Custer State Park.

And if you’re looking for outdoor adventure, we have plenty of scenic hiking and biking trails with breathtaking, unique views just ready for you to explore! Water-lovers can even take advantage of paddlesports rentals and make a splash in the lakes and creeks of the hills.

Regardless of what your family is looking for in a vacation, the Black Hills has it! Many of our guests come to the area knowing what they’re going to do… but if you are staying with us at the RV park or in the cabins and need some ideas, just let us know! We would be happy to help you with any recommendations to help you make the most of your time in Keystone and the Black Hills!