2022-09-20 SD-002 South Dakota - Tue, Sep 20 2022

REGISTRATION & PAYMENT REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page. This is a paid event with payment managed through the AOC. Please read the event description carefully for details; you will be given payment instructions after you sign up. Late payments are NOT accepted for this event, in any circumstance.

2022-09-20 SD-002 South Dakota

The Basics:
Event Type:Adventure
Event Location: South Dakota with home base in Rapid City, SD
Date(s) & Time:Tue, Sep 20 2022  8:00 am >> Thu, Sep 29 2022 8:00 pm
Registration Opens: Sun, May 1 2022 12:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Sun, May 15 2022 12:00 pm
Event Duration:10 Days
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult
Trip Leader(s):
Bill Wey
Email Trip Leader(s)
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Member Cost:$25.00/Person (See Detailed Cost Info Below)

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:1
Minimum Group Size:1
Number Registered So Far: 3 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


This outing is planned for hiking and exploring South Dakota in 10 days and 9 nights. It is designed for members with positive, adaptive, and flexible spirits. Good physical fitness and endurance are also required.

This web page is designed so that you can only put yourself on the waiting list. Once you’re verified to be suitable for this trip, you will be moved to the participant list.

Meeting place: from 9/21 (Wednesday) to 9/28 (Wednesday)

Every morning we’ll first meet in the lobby of Foothills Inn at address: 1625 N Lacrosse St, Rapid City, SD 57701.

<<< Itinerary >>>

Day 1: 9/20 (Tuesday)

Take flight from home town to Rapid City, SD and check in Lodging.

Day 2: 9/21 (Wednesday) we’ll meet at 7:00 am.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

We’ll spend plenty of time exploring Mount Rushmore and its facilities. We’ll also hike following trails.

Mount Rushmore and Presidential Trail Loop

We’ll start from the visitor center and go clockwise to get a close up look of the monument and Mount Rushmore. This is a short hike with board walk and stairs.

Old Baldy Mountain Trail

There is a few rocks scrambling but nothing too difficult. This is a short hike (D2: 2.5 miles/ 600 feet ascent). We’ll drive to trailhead on SD-244 W for about 2 miles from Mount Rushmore. Google map address: Wrinkled Rock Climbers Trailhead, Keystone, SD 57751.

Horse Thief Lake Trail

We’ll drive to Horse Thief Lake parking lot and hike along the lake. We’ll also take lunch/snack break here. This is a 1-mile short hike around the lake and it’s flat. Google map address: Horse Thief Lake, Mount Rushmore UT, SD 57751.

Upper Spring Creek and Flume Trail Loop

This hike will take us to the Sheridan Lake shore with four creek-crossing by foot bridges, a dam, a lake and a tunnel. It's about 3.5 miles and about 400 feet climbing. Google map address: Spring Creek Trailhead, Rapid City, SD 57702.


Badlands National Park
Day 3: 9/22 (Thursday) we’ll meet at 7:00 am.

Badlands National Park.

We will first make a stop at Wall Drug Store to take a general tour at 510 Main St, Wall, SD 57790. It is a very interesting place with plenty of stores to visit and shop.

We will then take I-90 and SD-240 to Badlands NP Ben Reifel Visitor Center to review its exhibits. Ben Reifel Visitor Center is at 25216 SD-240, Interior, SD 57750.

We’ll drive to Door and Window Trailhead about 2.3 miles from the Visitor Center turn right and following SD-240 E Road.

We will hike Door trail, Window trail, and Notch trail for about 3 miles. We will get to see a variety of very special and famous Badlands formations.

We’ll then hike the Castle Trail from the same trailhead parking lot. This out-and-back route is not strenuous itself, but there is very little shade and lots of exposure! So be prepared for that. The total out-and-back Castle Trail is 12 miles. Depending on how much time we have, we will most likely only hike a small portion of Castle Trail. This is a D4 event.

We will then go to Visitors Center of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site at 24545 CottonWood Road, Philip, SD 57567. We’ll visit its museum and take a general tour. If time permitting, we’ll also visit South Dakota Air and Space Museum. Google address: 2890 Davis Dr, Ellsworth AFB, SD 57706.


Day 4: 9/23 (Friday) we’ll meet at 7:00 am.

Custer State Park.

When our trip time window catches the Annual Buffalo Roundup in Custer State Park usually on a Friday at the end of September or early October, we have the option to participate this event as a group.

The Annual Buffalo Roundup usually starts from 9:30 am for about 2 hours. Breakfast and Lunch will be available on site for purchase. Park entrance license is not required on the Roundup day. Porta-pottys are available.

Custer State Park is a South Dakota State Park and wildlife reserve in the Black Hills. The park is South Dakota's largest and first state park, named after Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer. The park covers an area of over 71,000 acres (287 km2) of hilly terrain.

The park is home to a famous herd of 1500 free roaming bison. Elk, coyotes, mule deer, white tailed deer, mountain goats, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, river otters, pronghorn, cougars, and feral burros also inhabit the park.

The park is well-known for its scenery, its scenic drives (Needles Highway and the wildlife loop), with views of the bison herd and prairie dog towns. This park is easily accessible by road from Rapid City.

We will visit the Custer State Park Visitor Center and Wildlife Station Visitor Center to review their exhibits and movies. We’ll then spend plenty of time driving through the Wildlife Loop Road to view the famous wildlife in the Custer State Park.

State Game Lodge restaurant is a great place for us to have a group meal there before we finish our visit for the day. This is a D1 event.


Wind Cave National Park

Day 5: 9/24 (Saturday) we’ll meet at 7:00 am.

Wind Cave National Park.

We’ll first make a stop at Wind Cave NP Visitor Center to take its Natural Entrance Cave Tour.

The tour lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes, is 2/3 mile long, and encounters 300 stairs (mostly down). The tour enters the cave near the natural entrance and exits by elevator. It’s much colder in the cave so a jacket or sweater is a good idea. Ticket is $16 for those are 61 and under, and $8 for those are 62 and above. We plan to get in an earlier tour in the morning at 9 or 9:30 am.

Google map address: Wind Cave National Park Visitor Center, 26611 US-385, Hot Springs, SD 57747.

Lookout Point Trail

From the visitor center we’ll take SD-87 N road heading north for about 2 miles to the Lookout Point trailhead. This is out-and-back 5 miles easy hike. There are sweeping vistas, rolling hills, cool streams, and the diversity of plant, animal life, and prairie dog towns along the way. Google map address: Lookout Point Trail, Custer, SD 57730.

Rankin Ridge Interpretive Trail

This is a one-mile easy loop hike with some beautiful views of the Black Hills and old fire tower. It is 4.7 miles north on SD-87N from the Lookout Point Trail. Google map address: Rankin Ridge Trail, Custer, SD 57730.



Day 6: 9/25 (Sunday) we’ll meet at 7:00 am.

Crazy Horse Memorial

When our trip time window catches the annual Fall Crazy Horse Volksmarch usually on a Sunday at the end of September or early October, we have the option to participate this event as a group. This event is sponsored by the Black Hills Chapter of the American Volkssport Association (AVA) and hosted by Crazy Horse Memorial. It is the public’s second chance of the year to hike up the world’s largest mountain carving in progress. The out and back hiking is about 6 miles with 500 feet elevation gain. We’ll take our lunch break after hike, and spend some time touring the Memorial and its facilities. Memorial will not charge the regular $30 entrance fee per car if every person brings 3 cans of food. At the Volksmarch registration desk, it is $3 cash per person.

Alternative to Volksmarch

The alternative to Volksmarch is we’ll hike Sylvan Lake Shore Trail (1 mile, 100 feet ascent) and Sunday Gulch Trail (4.5  miles, 900 feet ascent) in Custer State Park from Sylvan Lake trailhead parking lot. This trailhead parking lot is about 0.3 miles pass the first General Store parking lot by the Sylvan Lake. Google address: Sylvan Lake Shore Trailhead, Custer, SD 57730.



Cathedral Spires

It is a 2 miles hike out and back with 530 feet elevation gain. It is rated as a strenuous trail by the park.

Cathedral Spires can feel deceptively easy at the beginning, but once reaching some of the short rock scrambles, one can understand the difficulty rating. Be prepared to climb over some rocky stretches of trail as it gradually gains elevation. Despite these tricky spots, there is also a fair amount of level trail. A nice feature of this trail is the area of flat, open ground at the end where we can enjoy a very nice break among the spires.

Cathedral Spires trailhead is about 2.2 miles east of Sylvan Lake following SD-87 S road. Google address: Cathedral Spires Trailhead, Custer, SD 57730. Today is a D3 event day.


Just do a Google search “photos of Deadwood, SD”

Day 7: 9/26 (Monday) we’ll meet at 7:00 am.
Deadwood Historical Town

It’s about one hour drive North-West from Rapid City, SD. This blast-from-the-past destination is surrounded in the rich history of the Black Hills Gold Rush. Deadwood's Wild West origins are on full display throughout the downtown streets. Some of the top attractions of Deadwood include reenacted shootouts on Historic Main Street, the Adams Museum, the Broken Boot Gold Mine, Days of 76 Museum, Mount Moriah Cemetery, Tatanka: Story of The Bison, and Mount Theodore Roosevelt Monument.

Homestake Trail from Deadwood to Lead. This is an out and back hike (D2: 7 miles, 900 feet ascent). We’ll start from "Deadwood Trailhead George S. Mickelson Trail, Deadwood, SD 57732."

We’ll do this hiking first thing in the morning. We’ll park at the Mickelson Trail parking lot in Deadwood, and walk down that trail for about 0.1 miles. Starting from Deadwood and uphill to a sign says the trail is closed where it is on private property, whereas the public trail continues. This trail will lead us to see the entire Deadwood from the top hill.

Once we reach Lead at the half of our hike, we’ll visit Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center, 160 W Main St, Lead, SD 57754. It is a 0.5 miles walk from Homestake trailhead. We’ll hike back to Deadwood after our visit at the Sanford Lab.

The Sanford Lab is located at Homestake Mine used to operate and currently conducting world-leading physics experiments giving scientists a better understanding of the universe. The Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) advances world-class science and inspires learning across generations.

SURF supports active research in particle and nuclear physics and other science disciplines. While still a gold mine, the facility hosted Ray Davis's solar neutrino experiment, which shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics. His work is a model for other experiments looking to understand the nature of the universe.

The facility's depth, rock stability and history make it ideal for sensitive experiments that need to escape cosmic rays. The impacts on science can be seen worldwide.

The Homestake Mine was a deep underground gold mine (8,000 feet or 2,438 m) located in Lead, SD. Until it closed in 2002 it was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America. The mine produced more than forty million troy ounces (43,900,000 oz; 1,240,000 kg) of gold during its lifetime. This is about 2,500 cubic feet (71 m3) or a volume of gold roughly equal to 18,677 US gallons.



Spearfish Canyon

Day 8: 9/27 (Tuesday) we’ll meet at 7:00 am.

Spearfish Canyon

We’ll first visit the Spearfish Canyon with two canyons, Spearfish and Little Spearfish, come together to offer spectacular views. We will trek in the Spearfish Canyon where Orion Pictures “Dances with Wolves” was filmed. The movie, released in 1990, was nominated for twelve Academy Awards and took home Oscars for Best Cinematography, Director, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound, Original Screenplay and Picture.

Once we get to Spearfish, we’ll take US Highway 14A (Spearfish Canyon National Scenic Byway) going south about 14 miles to Savoy. Then take FR 222, Roughlock Falls Road, for 4.7 miles to the trailhead of Little Spearfish Loop Trail in the Timon Campground. Google address: Timon Campground, Roughlock Falls Rd, Spearfish, SD 57783.

We'll hike the Little Spearfish Loop Trail for 7 miles and 800 feet elevation gain.

Spearfish Canyon Lodge at Savoy is a great place to take a break, and its Latchstring Restaurant has wonderful menu for lunch.



Devils Tower

Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming.

We’ll visit Devils Tower in the second half of the day. We’ll take the most scenic route of I-90 W and US-14 W to WY-24 E to fully enjoy our driving and viewing plenty of beautiful vistas. It’s an easy and relaxed 1.5 hour drive. We’ll spend some time touring the Visitor Center before hiking the most popular Tower Trail in the park. It’s a short and easy 1.5 miles on the paved surface.

It starts across the parking area from the Visitor Center. After a steep section leads us to a junction; we'll then go around the base of the Tower in either direction. The trail goes through ponderosa pine forest and the boulder field. Interpretative signs explain some of the geology and ecology of Devils Tower National Monument. There are benches along the path to take a snack break and enjoy views of the Tower. We’ll then take the same route driving back to Rapid City.


Black Elk Peak

Day 9: 9/28 (Wednesday) we’ll meet at 7:00 am.

Black Elk Peak

This is the highest Mt. in SD standing at 7,242 feet. It is also the highest point in the US east of the Rocky Mountains. We’ll start from the Sylvan Lake trailhead parking lot in Custer State Park to the summit. This trailhead parking lot is about 0.3 miles pass the first General Store parking lot by the Sylvan Lake.

The Black Elk Peak Loop trail goes up past Little Devils Tower along the Little Devils Tower Trail #4, joining with the Cathedral Spires Trail #4A, and continuing on to meet up with the Norbeck #3 trail to finally reach the summit of Black Elk Peak.

Along our way we will go by the side trail to the Little Devils Tower. This excursion makes our distance a little longer than just going to the summit, but it is so well worth the effort. The panoramic views from the top of Little Devils Tower are breathtaking! 

The return brings us down a different path using the Harney Peak #9 (South) trail. This will allow us to see different views on the way back.

This trail is in the rocky terrain and the scenery is beautiful with many look out points offering extraordinary views of the entire Black Hills and the surrounding area. There are 0.75 miles of trail near the top are sandy and slippery. There are also stairs close to the peak to climb to the summit. The total distance is about 10 miles with some rock scrambling. This is a D5 event.


Day 10: 9/29 (Thursday)

Our group event ends today.

Required Items to Bring:

Layers of clothing suitable for the season.

Good trail running/hiking shoes.

Water, lunch/snacks, and day pack.

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

Hiking poles


Rain gear just in case


The payment of $25 only covers AOC Service Fee. All costs (transportation, lodging, meals & drinks, and etc.) are paid by members on their own.

Itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of the trip leader.



Everyone is responsible for his/her own transportation the entire trip, i.e. flights and rental cars. Sharing rental car is a commitment to coordinating and staying together the entire trip including flight schedule. Please be thoughtful when making such commitment.


We will stay in Rapid City, South Dakota as our home base. There are many lodging options in Rapid City, SD. The choice of lodging is completely optional of each participant. We had previously stayed at The Foothills Inn, 1625 N Lacrosse St, Rapid City, SD 57701. It is centrally located and very convenient to everything we need. It is a very good choice to stay there, but not required.

VRBO, Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia.com, and Hotels.com are popular sites among many others to compare, search, and book for lodging.

I’ll set up a group chat in WhatsApp for our group conversation once our roster is set. You can use it to facilitate sharing lodging and rental car conversation.


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Cost & Payment:
Member Cost:$25.00/Person
Cost Includes:

A non-refundable AOC Service Fee $25 required by AOC.

The payment due date is May, 15, 2022.

If you miss the payment due date, you will be moved back to the waiting list.

Payment Cut Off:Payment must be received by the AOC on Sun, May 15 2022.
Make a Payment:Click here for the details. PLEASE PAY AFTER YOU HAVE SIGNED UP BELOW.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.

There is no refund for cancellation.