Never know about the weather- most likely to be still cool- we were there in early June 2008 and it was very cool and breezy in the day and cold at night.
Go online or order a travel planner for the Black Hills-
The DE is excellent on the forum and I am sure will give you some great info.
Enjoy your planning!!
Thanks for yout quick reply, will take all suggestions.
In April, the weather could be pretty iffy. Snow is a good possibility, although weather is never easily predicted.
Keep in mind that in April, not all attractions will be open, as it is still considered off season. You will be able to see Rushmore (it can be difficult to see in inclement weather), the caves, and Crazy Horse. The Badlands and Custer SP would be weather permitting. It sounds like you may be interested in just Deadwood?? Just keep in mind that it's mainly small casinos and nothing like what's portrayed on the HBO series. There's some western history, but many are somewhat disappointed in the town itself. I don't mean to discourage you; I just wanted to give you a small idea of the town.
You mention about not knowing which sights to take in..Do you have any particular interests? A week might be a little long in the area this time of year, particularly if you do get hit with nasty weather.
Please let us know if you have additional questions.
I agree with SLVRTRVL about the weather. But also April can be pretty nice. We visited in April and things were turning green and it was quite beautiful. There are sights open (not a lot of kid-friendly ones), but the major attractions - Crazy Horse, Rushmore, Badlands are always open.
As for Deadwood, I have to disagree. I've not been disappointed in my travels there. There are museums in town focused on Western, wild west, history and when we looked there was also a display about the Deadwood series and how it relates to what it is today. There are some great, historic hotels there, like the Bullock and Martin Mason, and most attractions are within walking distance of the main drag. As i recall, many of the buildings remain as they were a hundred years ago. there are casinos, but they aren't the Vegas-style ones full of neon. they are tucked in the historic buildings.
We also stayed at the Alex Johnson in Rapid City. That's a very cool hotel. Right downtown and close to shopping, restaurants and other neat shops. We ate at Botticelli's, an Italian restaurant right across the street, and had drinks and apps at the Firehouse, just around the corner, and both were quite good.
IMO, a huge perk of April travel is the great rates you can get. April weather is hard to predict, but if any major snowstorms happen, the warm weather will melt it away pretty quickly. You'll have a great trip!Edited: 05 January 2012, 16:30
Even though I am not a gambler, I, too, love Deadwood and its history. I am pretty sure that SRLTraveplanner was just advising that Main Street Deadwood is no longer a dirt street with a boardwalk and clapboard buildings like so many western movies have depicted and many tourists are expecting. These wooden structures were destroyed in a devasting fire in 1878. These buildings were replaced with mainly beautiful, brick and motar structures of nineteenth and early twentieth century architectural styles and remain today. Writen4vida's despcription is quite accurate and I encourage you to keep Deadwood in your plans, especially if you are interested in gambling or Deadwood's history.
While in the Deadwood area, make sure to include Spearfish Canyon, located just south of Lead, the neighboring town next to Deadwood. Gorgeous canyon with a pristine mountain stream and several beautiful waterfalls. It would be especially beautiful after an April snowfall, which ocassionally happens but disappears very quickly.
Late April is a nice time to visit Rapid City and the surrounding Black Hills. Spring showers are possible, with cooler temperatures yet (avg 45-60 degrees), and everything sprouting with new growth and green. All of the major attractions are open year-round, including Crazy Horse Memorial, Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, Badlands National Park, and Custer State Park.
Rapid City offers a great central location to all of these major attractions and offers a wide range of lodging and dining options to choose from year round. Some of the attractions to choose from in Rapid City include Reptile Gardens, with the world’s largest privately owned collection of reptiles; Bear Country USA, one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of black bear (opens May 1); The Journey Museum, which tells the 2.5 billion year story of the Black Hills; Prairie Edge, an emporium with museum-quality items (Native American and western art, artifacts, and products) for purchase; the self-guided walking tour of The City of Presidents, featuring bronze life-size sculptures of each of the U.S. Presidents; Main Street Square, an outdoor community gathering area with many events; the Black Hills Gold Jewelry factories, with several offering a free factory tour, watching factory works handcraft each piece of jewelry; South Dakota Museum of Geology with several archaeological and geological displays; and South Dakota Air & Space Museum, located adjacent to Ellsworth Air Force Base featuring over 25 aircraft displays; Watiki Indoor Waterpark, the largest indoor waterpark in the Dakota’s; and much more! You could tour Rapid City’s sites for a few days alone!
Other activities surrounding Rapid City you may consider for your visit are Wall Drug in Wall, the world’s largest Drug Store; Minuteman Missile National Historic Site near Interstate 90, Exit 131, tour an underground missile silo used to protect the U.S., during the Cold War; Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City, offering samples of South Dakota made wines; Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, one of the world’s largest natural mammoth burial sites (over 60 Mammoths found and counting), National Presidential Wax Museum in Keystone, each of the nation’s president’s cast in wax; Deadwood with its wild west, gold rush and gaming casinos, Sturgis with the Motorcycle Museum telling the story of the Legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, to name just a few. Let’s not forget the beautiful scenic drives. Spearfish Canyon with is waterfalls and picturesque scenery tops the list, along with Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop, Needles Highway with granite formations shaped like Cathedral Spires or pine needles and Iron Mountain Road, with 3 tunnels that frame out Mt. Rushmore.
As you can see, there is plenty to do for your visit in late April!
Two "seniors" are planning a trip to SD in early September. Need advice as to where to stay and dependable tour companies. We can't decide if we want to fly into Rapid City or Gillette WY. Difference in airfare is $400. Drive from Gllette to Custer (where we thought we would like to stay for a few days before heading to Deadwood) is approx. 4 hours according to Mapquest. Open to any and all suggestions. We have done Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon and Northern New Mexico during the past few years and planning seemed to be alot easier than this trip. Don't know why!! Any help would be appreciated.
Post your question as a new thread in the forum and you will get lots of help. The DE is excellent.
Also go online and look at the travel planner for the Black Hills- lots of great info.
Black Hills area is very compact and easy to drive around- no need for a tour.
I would not fly into Gillette. It's not central at all to the sights in South Dakota. Rapid City is a much more central location.
Definitely order the travel guide that PeachBelle mentioned so you can get a feel for the area.
Here's my short list of must sees:
Custer State Park
How many touring days do you have? THe list above will fill about 3-5 days depending on how much time you spend at each attraction.
Staying in Hill City or Keystone is a little more centralized to the main sights of the region. Based on your self description, I'd check out HIll City. When you move up to Deadwood, you can focus on the town plus Devil's Tower and Spearfish Canyon.
Also, there's definitely no need for a tour. I've been to Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, and other national parks in the Grand Circle Tour. It's much more spread out and not as easily managed, IMO. I think once you get the travel guide, you will feel much better about the planning process.
Please let us know if you have additional questions.