South Dakota Hills and Thrills

Destination: Keystone, South Dakota

| Activities: Hiking, biking, sight seeing, swimming, ziplining

South Dakota is an undervalued gem of a vacation spot, full of wildlife and outstanding outdoor adventure but with the ample space to spread out and enjoy. Nestled into the black hills is a lush valley where we'll stay in modern and Pinterest worthy cabins, close to adventure hot spots like Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore and Ziplining!

Highlights

  • Learning about the fascinating natural history & human history of this area
  • Exploring Mount Rushmore at sunset and during the evening lighting ceremony
  • Hiking South Dakota's highest mountain (Black Elk Peak)
  • Staying at the cozy and beautiful Hinterwood Inn and Cabins
  • Biking on the Mickelson Trail
  • Swimming in Sylvan Lake
  • Getting an aerial view of Mount Rushmore from a zipline

Departures and Prices

September 01 to September 05, 2022
$2250.00 - Available
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Inclusions

  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Four nights lodging at the Hinterwood Inn & Cabins with the entire property to ourselves!
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the Day 5. Guides will prepare most breakfast and dinners with picnic lunches while doing activities. The group will go out for the final dinner on Day 4.
  • Round-trip transportation to/from Rapid City Regional airport (RAP) to our lodging and transportation for all destinations listed on the itinerary
  • Park entry fees

Not included: Travel to and from South Dakota from your place of origin, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and travel insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

This trip is suitable for any woman who enjoys hiking and relaxed non-technical biking. While the elevation gain is substantial on our first hike, it is an out and back route so any participant wanting to turn back early may do so. The total biking mileage is 22 miles but it is over flat even terrain and participants can opt out of biking altogether and replace with more hiking around the cabin retreat property. A rating of 3 requires aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, cross country skiing or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. There are typically 4 to 6 hours of daily activity. Rating: 1 2[3][4] 5

This trip combines hiking and biking with an immersion into the uniqueness of this fascinating area. You'll see abundant wildlife and gorgeous scenery - all from multiple view points and activity perspectives!

We'll spend the entire trip at the Hinterwood Inn and Cabins about 40 minutes from Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) in South Dakota. Full price spots on the trip are for a private room with a queen bed with shared bathrooms, common areas and kitchens. There are 3 single supplements available (private room and private bathroom) for $300 each. Discounted spots are also available: 10% for 2 people sharing a private space with 1 king bed and 1 daybed, private bathroom, kitchen and common area, and $250 off for 3 Murphy bed spots (sharing bathroom with 2 other cabin-mates, Murphy beds are in the living room of each cabin).

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
Welcome to South Dakota; a spacious slice of paradise, with sprawling prairies, glacial lakes and fertile farmlands. Our adventure base for the next few days has everything we need to unwind and enjoy the outdoors. Fly into Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) by 3pm. We’ll pick you up at 3:30pm and drive to our lodging together as a group. The Hinterwood Inn and Cabins is a family owned and operated retreat, nestled in the verdant hills of Keystone, SD, just a short drive to Mount Rushmore. This afternoon we’ll tour the retreat property and get to know each other before sharing our first meal together. Tonight we’ll kick off the vacation with a sunset tour of Mount Rushmore with an option to stay for the evening lighting ceremony at 8pm. (D)
DAY 2
Custer State Park is considered one of the world’s top 10 wildlife destinations. We’ll have the entire day to soak up views that include bison, whitetail and mule deer, antelope, mountain goats, elk, coyotes, birds, wild turkeys, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, and “begging burros”. Did we mention the herd of over 1,300 buffalo that freely roam its grounds? Today we’ll start early with a hike up Black Elk Peak (6.4 miles round trip, 1,499 ft elevation gain. It’s an out and back trail so you can turn around early to make it shorter. Conversely there are great add ons like Little Devil’s Tower and Cathedral Spires which make the total mileage 7.7 miles) At the peak of 7,242 feet above sea level stands the highest point in the United States east of the Rockies and a CCC built fire tower with incredible panoramic views. On a clear day you can see parts of Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana as well as the granite cliffs of the Black Elk Wilderness. This afternoon we’ll relax on the shores of Sylvan Lake with a picnic lunch. You can take a refreshing swim or there is a scenic one mile trail around the perimeter of the lake perfect for strolling! (B, L, D)
DAY 3
Today we trade hiking boots for bikes as we explore the George S. Mickelson Trail. Named for one of South Dakota’s former governors, this 109 mile long bike trail was an ambitious project that converted more than 100 bridges and 4 rock tunnels from railroad lines to trails, hence the “rails to trails” designation. It follows gentle slopes and passes through beautiful black hill country and National Forest land. (If you’re not a fan of recreational cycling, you’re welcome to hang back at the cabins as there are interesting hiking trails on site.) We’ll embark on a full day low key cycle with a sweet reward afterwards - wine tasting! Prairie Berry Winery started their operations over 20 years ago and has won over 1,000 awards since. Wine isn’t your favorite drink? You’re in luck! The same successful wine family expanded into small batch brewing, opening Miner Brewing Company next door. The owner, a 5th generation South Dakotan named Sandi prides herself on using nearby ingredients for her handcrafted beer: “from local honey to handpicked wild fruits such as chokecherries, buffalo berries, and rosehips to indigenous yeast and hops, it all comes from South Dakota; even the wheat for her Wheat beer comes from her family farm.” (Cycling distance: 18 miles, mostly flat or downhill with some gentle grade inclines) (B, L, D)
DAY 4
Today we’ll stretch our legs on a different path in Custer State Park, the Sunday Gulch Trail. Though the mileage is low (3.9 mile loop), the trail is steep in some places with boulders (and handrails!) and offers an up close view of the fascinating geological formations of the park. This afternoon we’ll get our thrills in with a zipline adventure tour! On this two hour nonstop fun tour, we’ll see Mount Rushmore from a different angle as we soar through the lush forests of the Black Hills on 5 ziplines. For those interested in great views of Mount Rushmore but don’t want to zipline, you can take the relaxing chairlift to the summit where you can walk around on short nature trails before heading back down the hill on the chairlift. Tonight we celebrate our adventure with a step back in time, going out to eat at a local restaurant with 1900’s decor. (B, L, D)
DAY 5
It’s over too soon! What a great way to spend a long weekend. On our last day we’ll have a leisurely breakfast before packing up and heading back to the Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) for flights out after 11am. (B)

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

4.8

(8 reviews)
4.2 Food
4.5 Lodging
4.6 Safety
5
(6)
4
(2)
3
(0)
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Doris E.
0 months ago

As usual, the interaction amongst participants and guides and sharing of life stories made this trip special for me.

Charlene F.
0 months ago

I always enjoy the atmosphere created by the guides and woman participants. The location was beautiful and the activities and hikes were excellent too. The trip felt like a long weekend with friends

Colleen W.
0 months ago

The hiking was challenging yet doable if you are in shape. The scenery was awesome. The biking was easy yet we had the opportunity to continue riding which was up hill for 6 to 8 miles before it became flat again. The company was very accommodating taking some of us 5 miles up hill and unloading us so we could ride up hill 1 mile and the remaining 7 flat miles to Hill City. Leaders were great. They encouraged us yet stayed back with the weaker hikers and giving them options. Food was perfect. And the group of women were great.

Carol M.
0 months ago

the group of women and the 2 excellent guides

Kathy W.
0 months ago

Guides - superb

Katherine P.
0 months ago

Terrific guides who work well together - they even cooked for us! - and who expertly handled all the logistics and other details, created a convivial and supportive dynamic to let us enjoy the experience and one another’s company

Sharon G.
0 months ago

Being outside in nature. Hiking and seeing the lovely scenery and views. The nice travel companions I met.

Kathleen W.
0 months ago

Riding the Mickelson Trail. All the activities were enjoyable, but that was the special highlight for me.

  1. Where do we eat?

    All but 1 dinner will be prepared by your guides. The dinner on the last night is at a restaurant where you can order off the menu. Lunches will be prepared and packed by your guides.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars and favorite trail snacks.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    With the exception of the discounted spots (two shared bed spots and 3 Murphy bed spots), all rooms are private rooms with one queen bed in each. Bathrooms are shared with 1-2 other people. There is an option to upgrade to a single room with private bathroom (2 spots available).
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