How to plan your Black Hills and Badlands Vacation

Here are my top tips for planning your trip to South Dakota

Once upon a time, I helped thousands of tourists plan their vacations to the Black Hills area. Adventuresome Photo Co.’s travel photography niche was born because I love sharing the Rapid City area with families and helping families have incredible experiences here. I’d love to help you plan a vacation and take photos of these memories amongst our famous landscapes.

Three children sit on a boulder.

1. Pick your home base

There is a ton to see and do in the Black Hills. I suggest staying at a central location like Rapid City or Hill City to minimize driving. From Rapid City, you’re about 45 minutes to the northern Black Hills, Custer State Park, and an an hour from the Badlands, which is a centralized location, plus has more restaurants and conveniences and not at a high tourist markup.

Family sits overlooking Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park, SD

2. Plan for a variety of weather conditions

While summer months are typically beautiful, we are prone to getting lots of afternoon thunderstorms, sometimes with big hail. Shoulder season months (May and September-October) are the most predictable. If you plan on doing outdoor activities like hiking in Custer State Park or seeing the wildlife at Bear Country, get an early start to avoid unpredictable weather.

3. Spend at least three days here

I highly recommend spending at least three days in the Black Hills area. Folks I photograph constantly tell me they had no clue that there is so much to do here and that they had a little more time. Plan to spend at least one day exploring the central Black Hills and Custer State Park, one day in Badlands National Park, and one day in the northern Black Hills.

4. Get off the beaten path

I hear from SO many families that they wish they would have spent more time hiking our family-friendly trails, eating at the local spots, or just hanging lakeside at one of the beaches in Custer State Park.

5. Book your vacation photographer

I absolutely love helping families have incredible experiences while exploring the Black Hills and Badlands and documenting the magical moments that happen along the way. I know these areas like the back of my hand. It’s my goal for families of all ages and abilities to have an easy, incredible experience that feels more like play and adventure than stuffy family photos. Drop me a line to set up your vacation photography session!

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