FROM THE DESK OF KEELY
48 HOURS IN THE BLACK HILLS – For the Outdoor Adventurer
Damien and I often joke that we “traded in our 9 to 5, for a 5 to 9”, but it’s not entirely wrong. Before purchasing Black Hills Balloons in 2015, we often dreamed of owning our own business and creating a better life for ourselves; one that allowed us to enjoy the outdoors, be a bit healthier and spend more time with each other. It’s hard to believe we’re prepping for our 6th season, doing what we love and living that dream of ours.
We’re often asked about our favorite restaurants, hikes and day trips here in the Black Hills. It’s such a beautiful place full of hidden gems, its easy to get overwhelmed by all there is to do. And there’s SO MUCH TO DO, for everyone… how lucky we are to live in a place with something for everyone.
When we host a houseguest, we gear their visit to what they like most; fine-tuning itineraries for friends from different backgrounds. It’s so fun to share our favorite spots with friends and family, we just had to share it with all of you. Here is our take on “48 hours in the Black Hills”, for the outdoor adventurer; a person who wants to get out and experience nature and the Black Hills in all her glory.
48 Hours in the Black Hills – For the Outdoor Adventurer
A balloon flight with Black Hills Balloons, of course! You can’t miss an opportunity to soar over the Black Hills in a hot air balloon. Flying over the areas unique landscapes, valleys and granite formations is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the area. Paired with a serene sunrise, wildlife, and a celebratory toast of champagne, the experience is once in a lifetime. We always recommend you schedule your flight on your first day of vacation. That way, if Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, we have plenty of backup opportunities during your stay.
After your flight, rent a paddleboard or kayak from the South Dakota Outdoor Shop. Located next door to our passenger meeting location, the SD Outdoor Shop is not only convenient but offers fantastic advice and rentals for the adventurer looking to explore our beautiful area. Visit Custer State Parks Sylvan Lake for a picturesque paddle or Legion Lake for a relaxing day in the sun.
If you’re looking for something a little more unique to the area, try rock climbing with Sylvan Rocks Climbing Guides. Ranging from 3 hours to full-day adventures for first-timers or experienced climbers, the guides at Sylvan Rocks will ensure you are safe while climbing some of the nation’s most recognized rock formations. They even offer a day of climbing Devils Tower, if you’re up for it!
Rent an ATV from Adventure Rentals! Offering full or half-day rentals, Adventure Rentals is an official Polaris outfitter, so you know they’ll always have the best machines. The Black Hills have nearly 4,000 miles of off-road trails to explore and the team at Adventure Rentals are regularly praised for their personalized approach to planning a guest’s perfect day.
Stop along your ATV travels for a hike to round out your day. Custer State Park offers hikes requiring a variety of skill levels. Just make sure you take plenty of water, and your camera to take full advantage of the amazing views. And while you’re at it, drive the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park for an up-close-and-personal visit with our area’s famous bison herd before you return your ATV.
If an ATV isn’t your style, tour the Badlands on a bicycle with Black Hills Tour Company. The private day tours can manage up to 8 guests, includes local transportation, your gear, a guide, and a picnic lunch. Catch stunning views of Badlands while you peddle 30 miles through the pinnacles and lower shale formations that make up the historic national park.
But who are we kidding? With so much adventure in the Black Hills, you’ll likely need more than 48 hours. Try yoga, biking our famous 100+ mile Mickelson trail, fly in a helicopter over Mount Rushmore, explore underground at Wind Cave National Park or Jewel Cave National Monument, which are recognized as being two of the largest cave systems in the world, or just spend a day wildlife watching along the miles and miles of trails offered in Custer State Park and surrounding Black Hills National Forest. And once you’ve done it all, you need to come back when the snow falls for fat biking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing and more… It’s so overwhelming you’ll likely want to visit again and again. We encourage it!
A best-kept secret, we’re not only lucky to live here in the Black Hills, but we’re also happy to share it and recommend our favorite things to do. Let us know if you’d like some advice on enjoying our beautiful Black Hills. And let us know if you’ve enjoyed any of the activities shared here.