Hill City South Dakota is best known as an ideal base for exploring one of America’s most important, and iconic attractions—Mount Rushmore. It is the oldest of any town inside the district of Penning County with layers of history to unfold. Hill City is home to the Black Hills Central Railroad and is just 25-miles southeast of Rapid City. The Black Hills comprise a mountain range that is both smaller in size than the Rockies and quite isolated. They are detached, yet close to the Rocky Mountains, and are part of Black Hills National Forest, which contains the highest peaks on the continent save for the Rocky Mountains. The name Black Hills results from the dark, and often foreboding appearance of the hills and the mountains themselves are directly associated with the Lakota tribe of Native Indians.
There are many fun things to do in Hill City and around the area. Outdoor activities take the cake with mountain climbing, cycling, camping, bird watching, and fishing a regular part of outdoor fun. Plenty of scenic byways, horseback riding, hunting, hiking, and gold panning are also possible within Hill City South Dakota. If heading into the area to ride the Black Hills Central Railroad, don’t miss spectacular caving within the mountains. They are dense with a network of passageways within the eight main caves, which include Rushmore Cave, Jewel Cave National Monument, Black Hills Cavern, and Wind Cave National Park.
Black Hills Central Railroad is a major draw for train fans. Riding the track is easily one of the top things to do in Hill City, and even if you’re not a train-lover, the scenery will grab you at every turn. Train tours follow twists and turns throughout the Black Hills over a two-hour plus journey. The rugged terrain provides the perfect setting for abundant wildlife, flocks of mature trees, and plenty of lush flora. The steam train, a vintage vessel, takes passengers close to Crazy Horse Memorial and through the picturesque hills offering some of the best views in the state while it travels to Keystone and eventually returns to Hill City.
Since 1874, the boom in mining has played a distinct part in the history of South Dakota. The discovery of gold led to the initial installation of the Black Hills Central Railroad to contend with the mass amounts of precious metals mined out of the area. The narrow gauge rail line accommodating the train was built in 1881 and by 1885, new tracks made their way all the way to Rapid City. Today, scenic train rides along the Black Hills line commemorate the early developments in railroad technology and share with passengers the passion that early riders felt for steam locomotives.
Visiting the Hill City museums offers tourists even more things to do in Hilly City. The history of dinosaurs in South Dakota can be explored in depth at the Museum at Black Hills Institute. The Indian Museum of North America and the South Dakota State Railroad Museum are two more big attractions in Hill City South Dakota. Remains of colossal Ice Age animals can be viewed at the Mammoth Site in Hill City, while the gallery at The National Presidential Wax Museum presents a look at some of the most important people in American history. From the Black Hills Central Railroad to the many other attractions within Hill City, the area is laced with activities for all ages and affords a look at some of the most important historical aspects of the region.