Trip Idea

Geologic Tour of the Black Hills

Multiple Parks

Purple flowers, green grasses, and red striped butte under blue sky.
Duration Multiple Days
Topic(s) Animals, Canyons and Canyonlands, Foothills, Plains and Valleys, Fossils and Paleontology, Geology, Grasslands, Prairies, Native American Heritage, Rock Landscapes and Features, Buttes, Scenic Views, Wilderness, Caves, Caverns and Karst, Bison, Elk, Forests and Woodlands, Fire, Natural Sounds, Trails
Activities Scenic Driving, Guided Tours, Hiking, Front-Country Hiking, Self-Guided Tours - Auto
Type Kid Friendly, Active, Relaxed, Solitary/Remote, Educational, Indoors, Outdoors, Road Trip, Group Friendly
Parks Badlands National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park, Devils Tower National Monument

Driving Through the Hills
    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Scenic Driving
    • Pets: Yes with Restrictions
    • Duration: 1–2 Hours
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Any Time
    a paved road descends into a prairie landscape with buttes in the background.

    Enjoy the sights of Badlands National Park by driving its most popular road -- Badlands Loop Road, also known as Highway 240. Catch beautiful landscapes, informational exhibits, and glimpses of wildlife on this incredible drive.

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  • Wind Cave National Park

    Wind Cave Geology Driving Tour

    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Self-Guided Tours - Auto
    • Pets: No
    • Duration: 60–90 Minutes
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
    a gravel road winds across the prairie with rolling forested hills in the distance

    The geology driving tour is a great way to see the park while learning about the rich geologic history of the Black Hills. On this 20 mile long tour, you will travel back in time and view Wind Cave's rock record to get a glimpse into its past.

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With a Ranger
  • Jewel Cave National Monument

    Guided Cave Tours

    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: Yes
    • Activity: Guided Tours
    • Pets: No
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day
    Ranger leading people down stairs during cave tour.

    Due an elevator project, all advanced reservations for the Scenic Tours are suspended until further notice. Cave tours are not available at this time. Ranger-guided tours are required to enter Jewel Cave, and the various tours are offered at scheduled times, which vary by season. With four different tour options, there is something for all skill levels and interests.

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  • Badlands National Park

    Visit the Fossil Preparation Lab

    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Guided Tours
    • Pets: Yes with Restrictions
    • Season: Summer
    • Time of Day: Day
    a woman in a white lab coat works on an enormous fossil skull.

    Visit the Fossil Preparation Lab in Badlands National Park, where visitors have the opportunity to engage with paleontologists and other park staff working on Badlands fossils!

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Hiking Trails
  • Wind Cave National Park

    Hiking at Wind Cave

    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Hiking
    • Pets: No
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
    wide gravel path at sunrise on an open hillside with many forested hills in the distance

    View rolling prairie vistas, ponderosa forests, and see wildlife in its natural environment. Wind Cave National Park has over 30 miles of hiking trails on the surface and provides visitors the opportunity to view pristine Black Hills scenery. Find out which trail is the best for you.

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  • Jewel Cave National Monument

    Hiking Trails

    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Hiking
    • Pets: No
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day
    Wooden sign to Historic Area .5 miles and Visitor Center .4 miles

    There are many opportunities for exploring on the surface at Jewel Cave National Monument. The 1,279 acre park is located in a Ponderosa pine forest, easily seen along the short Roof Trail. The Jasper Fire of August 24, 2000, has changed the scenery of the Monument but it is an opportunity to see first hand the forest recovery process along the Canyons Trail.

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  • Badlands National Park

    Hiking the Badlands

    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Hiking
    • Age: 3 and Older
    • Pets: No
    • Duration: 1–5 Hours
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
    a brown sign with white writing points to door, window, notch, and castle trails.

    Interested in hiking at Badlands National Park? Read about rules, official trails, and the park's open hike policy here.

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  • Devils Tower National Monument

    Walk the Tower Trail Loop

    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Front-Country Hiking
    • Pets: No
    • Location: Devils Tower National Monument
    • Duration: 40 Minutes
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Any Time
    A bench along a trail overlooking a valley.

    Enjoy a walk around the base of one of the most unique geologic formations in the world! Learn about the natural and cultural history of Devils Tower National Monument, from theories about how it formed to the connections modern tribes maintain with the site today.

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Last updated: October 30, 2020