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Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD

Jun 6 - Jun 14, 2015 -- $1225 ★★★

Adjacent to the legendary South Dakota badlands, lies a multi-faceted wilderness area known as the Black Hills. The Black Hills are home to Mt. Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park, Harney Peak (at 7244' the highest mountain in South Dakota and the tallest peak east of the Rockies), the Black Elk Wilderness, Custer State Park and the Centennial Trail, all of which we'll traverse at least in part.

Although best known for herds of roaming bison, prairie dogs and ubiquitous Ponderosa Pines, the Black Hills also feature elk, mule deer, coyote, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, eagles, hawks, osprey, fox and peregrine falcons.

Our trek begins in Wind Cave National Park with a short caving expedition (no experience necessary). From there, we'll start hiking on the Centennial Trail, hiking through Wind Cave National Park and into Custer State Park. We'll enter the French Creek Natural Area, and eventually visit the Black Elk Wilderness, where we'll summit Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota. In fact, there is no higher point East of Harney Peak all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Our hike will end by walking into the inspirational Mt. Rushmmore National Memorial.

Why not start your summer early by visiting beautiful South Dakota, get a jump on your fitness level and lose some weight (or more accurately, improve body composition)?


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures into the 60s and 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s. However on the 2011 trip, temperatures hit 100 on one day and brought a hailstorm on the next. So be prepared for great fluctuations. Here is the historical June weather Bring lots of sun protection and water containers that add up to 8 liters of capacity.

Trip Leaders

Dan Shafto
Beau Devlin


$1225 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Rapid City (RAP), personal equipment and any restaurant meals eaten off the trail.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, campground fees, 7 days of trail meals, ground transportation to/from the parks, park permits, insurance, satellite phone, and awesome guides.


The trails through the Black Hills often have good footing with moderate elevation changes of less than 1000' per day (except summitting Harney Peak and leaving French Creek Natural Area). Distances will be kept below 10 miles per day. We have deemed this a 3-star difficulty trip because water can be scarce in June and you may have to carry more, but it should be less strenuous than that most of the time.

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)
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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Fly into Rapid City Airport (RAP) or drive into Rapid City. The best time to arrive is between Noon-3PM. However, if you can save a substantial amount on your flight by arriving an hour or two later or earlier, then do so.

Call for free hotel shuttle to Baymont Inn & Suites Rapid City, 4040 Cheyenne Blvd, Rapid City, SD 57703, 605-791-5151. Built in 2013.

Equipment shakedown

Trail mix distribution

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Go to Take A Hike, 318 Mount Rushmore Road Rapid City, South Dakota 57701 - (605) 342-0608, Scheels, 1225 Eglin St., Rapid City, SD 57701, 605-342-9033 or Cabela's, 3231 East Mall Drive, Rapid City, SD 57701, (605) 388-5600 for forgotten and last minute equipment purchase

Go out for dinner at a local restaurant (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Second set of "before" measurements taken

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage.

Complimentary Breakfast at the hotel

Shuttle to Wind Cave National Park

Take a 1-2 hour cave tour (no caving experience necessary)

Head to the Norbuck Lake on the Centennial Trail and begin hiking, elevation 4250'.

Hike 6.2 miles to Highland Creek

Camp Southwest of bison corrals at Highland Creek, elevation 4300'.

Miles today: 6.2. Total miles: 6.2

Possible bailout: Route 5

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hike 10.3 miles on Centennial Trail to Highland Creek in the French Creek Natural Area.

Camp at French Creek, elevation 4700'.

Miles today: 10.3. Total miles: 16.5

Possible bailout: Route 87, Route 5, Route 4, or Wildlife Loop Road

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Hike 4.2 miles to Legion Lake Frontcountry Campground

Camp at Legion Lake, sites TBD, showers, swimming, and water available, elevation 5200'.

Miles today: 4.2. Total miles: 20.7

Possible bailout: Alt 16

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hike 6.3 miles to Iron Creek

Hike over hill past horse camp to the Black Elk Wilderness

Hike 1.0 miles on Centennial Trail to trail #1

Hike 2.0 miles on the Grizzly Bear Creek Trail (trail #1) to unmarked pond on the left

Camp at unmarked pond, elevation 5000'

Miles today: 9.3. Total miles: 30.0

Possible bailout: Route 87, Alt 16

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hike 0.7 miles on Grizzly Bear Creek Trail #1 to the Grizzly trail #7

Hike 3.3 miles on Grizzly Trail #7 to trail #4

Hike 0.4 miles on trail #4 to trail #9, the Lost Cabin Trail

Hike 3.6 miles on Lost Cabin Trail #9, to Sylvan Lake

Hike 0.5 miles to Sylvan Lake Campground, elevation 6000'

Camp at Sylvan Lake Frontcountry Campground, Site 13, running water, showers, laundry, store available

Miles today: 8.5. Total miles: 38.5

Possible bailout: Sylvan Lake

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hike 0.7 miles on the road the the trailhead of trail #4

Hike 0.5 miles to trail #4B

Drop packs and day-hike 1.5 miles round trip to the summit of Little Devil's Tower

Pick up packs and hike 1.5 miles on trail #4 to trail #9

Hike 0.2 miles on Trail #9 to the Harney Peak Trail

Drop packs here

Day-Hike 1.0 miles to the summit of Harney Peak, elevation 7244'

Hike 2.5 miles to trail #5, Willow Creek Rushmore Trail

Hike 0.9 miles on trail #5 to unmarked campsite just inside wilderness boundary making sure to get water along the way. The campsite is dry, but there is water about halfway

Camp at unmarked site inside wilderness boundary, elevation 5250'

Miles today: 8.8. Total miles: 47.3

Possible bailout: Route 87 or 244

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hike 1.0 mile to Centennial Trail

Hike 3.0 miles to Mt. Rushmore

Miles today: 4.0. Total miles: 51.3

Possible bailout: Mt. Rushmore

Shuttle back to Baymont Inn & Suites Rapid City, 4040 Cheyenne Blvd, Rapid City, SD 57703, 605-791-5151

After measurements taken

Dinner and awards Ceremony (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Free breakfast in Hotel

Check out of Hotel

Take Free Airport Shuttle

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