FROM THE DESK OF KEELY
LOCAL RECOMMENDATIONS – Best Black Hills Rainy Day Activities
Hot air ballooning is weather dependent. Meaning that the conditions need to be just right, to fly. A perfect day consists of winds under 10 mph, great visibility (no fog or low clouds), and no rain or precipitation in the surrounding area. That’s why we fly at sunrise here in the Black Hills. It’s the best time of day for predictable light winds. Not to mention stunning sunrise views while local wildlife is waking up and the meadows are covered in morning dew. We love those days, but every now and again we have rain. It’s okay really. We love the rain too. It makes sure our forests are safe from fire danger, keeps our meadows green and lush, and our lakes and streams primed for outdoor activities like fishing and kayaking. We’d always prefer to fly, but sometimes Mother Nature has other plans.
So, what do you do when it rains? The Black Hills are known for fantastic hikes, camping, rock climbing, Mount Rushmore Memorial, and more…but most of our amazing summer activities are outside.
Luckily, the Hills have lots of indoor activities too, so it’s fairly easy to pivot to an indoor activity when the weather is less than stellar. Below are a few of our favorite activities to share when it’s raining.
Best Black Hills Rainy Day Activities:
#1: Old Pine Social
If you’re looking for a perfect place to bond with friends or family over a game or two, check out Old Pine Social. Located right next door to our passenger meeting location, these guys are a lot of fun. Try axe throwing, play a game of bocce ball, grab a board game or puzzle, and enjoy a beer. Occasionally a food truck parked right outside, but if not, pizza delivery (or any outside food) is a welcomed option. And they are always fully stocked with locally brewed beers like one of our Rapid City favorites, Lost Cabin Beer Co..
#2: Wind Cave National Park or Jewel Cave National Monument
The Black Hills are home to some of the most unique cave systems, and both offer fantastic tours. Rainy days tend to be busier at these locations, so plan ahead to arrive early and get signed up. The caves are also great for extra hot days too because they maintain a cool temperature year-round. And if the rain lets up, there are always a few hikes within a short distance, to enjoy the parks above ground too.
#3: Moccasin Springs and Evans Plunge
Check out some naturally warm spring water in Hot Springs, SD! If you’re looking for a spa feel, check out Moccasin Springs. The outdoor pools are a beautiful way to relax, even in the rain, and their spa services are pretty great. For families, Evans Plunge is a great way to go. Their indoor pool features water slides, rings, and more, to enjoy the naturally warm spring water.
#4: The Journey Museum and Learning Center
If you’re interested in American History, Black Hills history, and Native American culture, make sure you stop at the Journey Museum located in Rapid City. The museum showcases the history of the Black Hills and Native American culture through four collections: Geology and Paleontology, Archaeology, Native American Culture, and Pioneer History. It’s not to be missed.
#5: Reptile Gardens
Known by the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s largest reptile zoo, Reptile Gardens is also home to a two-level sky dome filled with an oasis of tropical plants and flowers, a prairie dog town, giant tortoises, and more. Founded in 1935, they certainly know a thing or two about being a top Black Hills attraction.
#6: Crazy Horse Memorial
Just two miles from Custer sits one of the most mind-blowing collections of Native American history and art. Obviously better known for its ongoing rock carving; its museum alone is more than worth it. They also have an on-site restaurant (Laughing Water), so plan on spending more than a couple of hours on-site enjoying their amenities. The indoor view of the carving is pretty great too, through a gorgeous window that perfectly frames the memorial.
The best thing about rain in the Black Hills? Our forests, prairies, and farmland can always use the rain. And because it’s so easy to find something to do, it won’t put a damper on your day. Sure, it might mean a change of plans, but the Black Hills are known for being a bit go-with-the-flow, and hopefully, our Best Black Hills Rainy Day Activities make it a little easier to enjoy the moment and embrace the spontaneity of it all. Black Hills Balloons will always be here if you want to try again*.
*Booking tip: Plan to fly with us early in your stay, so you have some flexibility IF Mother Nature provides less than favorable weather on your scheduled day. If we can move your booking to later in the week, we’ll do our best to get you in the air. The balloons look like rainbows, after all. And you know what they say about rainbows after the rain…
Check out more Black Hills Balloons tips and Frequently Asked Questions here.
We hope you enjoy your visit to the Black Hills, and as always, feel free to reach out to us with questions about the area. We love sharing what we love about the Black Hills.