Yellowstone to Black Hills National Forest
Take A Road Trip

Route Distance: 396 miles 

Recommended Trip Duration: 3-4 Days 

Travel Time: 7 hours

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To keep the fun going after visiting Yellowstone National Park, take a journey full of stunning landscapes across Wyoming to South Dakota’s Black Hills. It’s a drive you can easily make in a day, or plan to stop along the way to soak up more history, mystery, beauty and culture. Don't forget to order your Vacation Guide before hitting the road to discover even more South Dakota adventures.

Rock climbing in the Black Hills
Rock Climbing in the Black Hills
Custer State Park allows you to get close to various animals through the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Scenic Byway.
Wildlife Scenic Loop Byway
Yellowstone National Park → Meadowlark Lake, WY (3 hours, 19 minutes)

After fueling up on coffee and gas, head east on US-14/16 to Manderson, where you’ll cut across WY-31 south to Ten Sleep before picking back up US-16 east into Bighorn National Forest. A sister range of the Rockies, the Bighorn Mountains offer a diverse landscape of alpine meadows, glacier-carved valleys, clear lakes and sheer cliffs perfect for camping and adventure.

Halfway to Black Hills, stop at Meadowlark Lake to stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat and visit the observation point for jaw-dropping views. Then pop into Meadowlark Lake Lodge for outdoor recreation in all four seasons.

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Meadowlark Lake → Black Hills National Forest (3.5 hours)

Hop back on US-16 east to I-90 east for a straight shot to the northern end of Black Hills National Forest and the 1.2 million acres of wonder it offers. Take Exit 17 and follow US-85 to the historic Old West town of Deadwood for days of play. 

First thing’s first: settle into a convenient homebase for your stay. The Lodge at Deadwood (100 Pine Crest Lane) and Silverado Franklin Historic Hotel & Gaming Complex (709 Main St.) combine cozy comforts with the excitement of casino gaming, while Whistler Gulch Campground (235 Cliff St.) offers tent and RV sites – or a furnished condo for those not wanting to “rough it.” 

Franklin Hotel

Now, it’s time to explore! Tour the gravesites of legends like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane at Mount Moriah Cemetery (10 Mt. Moriah Drive), then honor Deadwood’s first pioneers who settled its gold-filled gulches back in 1876 at the Days of ‘76 Museum (18 76th Drive — clever, right?). Take a short hike up to Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower for views that are so worth the climb. If you want to get even more fresh air, bike the rolling hills of George S. Mickelson Trail or book a UTV or snowmobile through Black Hills Off-Road Rentals (21399 US-385).

Bikers on the George S. Mickelson Trail // Black Hills
George S. Mickelson Trail
Mount Roosevelt
Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower
Days of 76 Mueseum/Deadwood
Days of ‘76 Museum

After working up an appetite, check out area restaurants and watering holes for tasty fare ranging from casual to refined. Mavericks Steak & Cocktails (688 Main St.) serves top-notch beef, brisket and ribs paired with signature drinks and craft beers. Step inside Wild Bill Bar & Trading Post (624 Main St.) for drinks, games and shopping at the location where Wild Bill Hickok was killed. Looking for something a little, um, stronger? Deadwood Distillery (645 Main St.) offers free tastings of its popular moonshines.

Wild Bill Bar
Side Trip to Spearfish

If you have a little extra time, head just 20 minutes northeast to Spearfish, where the 20-mile Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway cuts through tall canyon walls, limestone cliffs and stands of ponderosa and spruce pines. Then, set out on foot to explore towering Crow Peak, home to a moderate trail climbing 1,600 feet to the 5,780-foot summit’s sweeping 360-degree views.

Spearfish Canyon
Spearfish Canyon
Snap a pic of Bridal Veil Falls.
Bridal Veil Falls
Roughlock Falls
Roughlock Falls

Speaking of picture-perfect spots, observation platforms at Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls make great selfie spots, with rushing waters tumbling some 50-60 feet down in the background.

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