South Dakota Hills and Thrills

Destination: Keystone, South Dakota

| Activities: Hiking, biking, sight seeing, swimming

South Dakota is a hidden gem of a vacation spot, full of wildlife and outstanding outdoor adventure but with the ample space to spread out and enjoy. Nestled into the black hills is a lush valley where we'll stay in modern and Pinterest worthy cabins, close to adventure hot spots like Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore! Maximum group size: 13.


  • Learning about the fascinating natural history & human history of this area
  • Experiencing the magic of Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial
  • Hiking South Dakota's highest mountain (Black Elk Peak)
  • Staying at the cozy and beautiful Hinterwood Inn and Cabins
  • Biking on the Mickelson Trail
  • Celebrating with a classic chuck wagon wildlife tour and cookout

Departures and Prices

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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Four nights lodging at the Hinterwood Inn & Cabins with the entire property to ourselves!
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the Day 5. Guides will prepare most breakfast and dinners with picnic lunches while doing activities. The group will go out for the final dinner on Day 4.
  • Round-trip transportation to/from Rapid City Regional airport (RAP) to our lodging and transportation for all destinations listed on the itinerary
  • Park entry fees

Not included: Travel to and from South Dakota from your place of origin, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and travel insurance

Trip Info

This trip is suitable for any woman who enjoys hiking and relaxed non-technical biking. While the elevation gain is substantial on our first hike, it is an out and back route so any participant wanting to turn back early may do so. The total biking mileage is 18 miles but it is primarily downhill and participants can opt out of biking altogether and replace with more hiking around the cabin retreat property. A rating of 3 requires aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, cross country skiing or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. There are typically 4 to 6 hours of daily activity. Rating: 1 2[3][4] 5

This trip combines hiking and biking with an immersion into the uniqueness of this fascinating area. You'll see abundant wildlife and gorgeous scenery - all from multiple view points and activity perspectives!

We'll spend the entire trip at the Hinterwood Inn and Cabins about 40 minutes from Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) in South Dakota. Standard accommodation is a private room with a queen bed with shared bathrooms, common areas and kitchens. There are 3 single supplements available (private room and private bathroom) for $300 each.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Welcome to South Dakota; a spacious slice of paradise, with sprawling prairies, glacial lakes and fertile farmlands. Fly into Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) by 2PM. We’ll pick you up and kick off the adventure right away with a visit to Mount Rushmore. Please arrive in comfortable walking clothes as we'll stroll out and back the Presidential Trail (.7 miles round trip) to get a close up view of the monument. From there, we'll head to our home away from home for the trip, the Hinterwood Inn and Cabins. The property is a family owned and operated retreat, nestled in the verdant hills of Keystone, South Dakota and a short drive to our upcoming adventures. This evening we’ll settle into our rooms and get to know each other before sharing our first meal together. (D)
Custer State Park is considered one of the world’s top 10 wildlife destinations. We’ll have the entire day to soak up views that may include whitetail and mule deer, antelope, mountain goats, elk, coyotes, birds, wild turkeys, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, and “begging burros”. Did we mention the herd of over 1,300 bison that freely roam its grounds? We'll stretch our legs and acclimate to the altitude with a hike on the Sunday Gulch Trail. Though the mileage is low (3.9 mile loop), the trail is steep in some places with boulders (and handrails!) and offers an up close view of the fascinating geological formations of the park. This afternoon we’ll relax on the shores of Sylvan Lake with a picnic lunch and a refreshing swim. Depending on time and interest, there may be an option to drive the park in search of Bison, or return to Hinterwood for downtime before dinner. (B, L, D)
Today we trade hiking boots for bikes as we explore the George S. Mickelson Trail. Named for one of South Dakota’s former governors, this 109 mile long bike trail was an ambitious project that converted more than 100 bridges and 4 rock tunnels from railroad lines to trails, hence the “rails to trails” designation. It follows gentle slopes and passes through beautiful black hill country and National Forest land. (If you’re not a fan of recreational cycling, you’re welcome to hang back at the cabins as there are interesting hiking trails on site.) We’ll embark on a low key cycle with a sweet optional reward afterwards - wine tasting! Prairie Berry Winery started their operations over 20 years ago and has won over 1,000 awards since. Wine isn’t your favorite drink? You’re in luck! The same successful wine family expanded into small batch brewing, opening Miner Brewing Company next door. The owner, a 5th generation South Dakotan named Sandi prides herself on using nearby ingredients for her handcrafted beer: “from local honey to handpicked wild fruits such as chokecherries, buffalo berries, and rosehips to indigenous yeast and hops, it all comes from South Dakota; even the wheat for her Wheat beer comes from her family farm.” (Cycling distance: 18 miles, mostly flat or downhill with some gentle grade inclines) (B, L, D)
Today we’ll start early with a hike up Black Elk Peak (6.4 miles round trip, 1,499 ft elevation gain. It’s an out and back trail so you can turn around early to make it shorter. Conversely there are great add ons like Little Devil’s Tower and Cathedral Spires which make the total mileage 7.7 miles) At the peak of 7,242 feet above sea level stands the highest point in the United States east of the Rockies and a CCC built fire tower with incredible panoramic views. On a clear day you can see parts of Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana as well as the granite cliffs of the Black Elk Wilderness. Tonight we celebrate our trip with a classic chuck wagon cookout, which includes a scenic wildlife wagon tour, live entertainment, and a hearty Black Hills meal in a mountain meadow! (B, L, D)
It’s over too soon! What a beautiful trip. On our last day we’ll have a leisurely breakfast before packing up and heading back to the Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) for flights out after 11am. (B)


(25 reviews)
4.2 Food
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Most Recent

Mary H.
9 months ago

The hills and rock formations made for excellent hiking. The group dynamic at our Inn was wonderful.

Susan H.
9 months ago

I finally got to see Mount Rushmore!

Lynne R.
9 months ago

The like mindedness, respect, and sense of adventure of the group of women was simply amazing! The hiking was awesome and aw-inspiring. I liked how there was a fast and slow hiking group to accomodate everyone and it never felt rushed. The guides were amazing and layed back. Thank you for making this trip a lifetime experience!

Meg K.
9 months ago

Spending time in an area I've never been to.

Lavina L.
9 months ago

Sydelle H.
9 months ago

Custer State Park was incredibly gorgeous! We went on two completely different kinds of hikes and saw wild bison, goats, and burros pass right in front of us. Gorgeous sunsets too. Our guides were outstanding...thoughtful, organized, and full of joy. We bonded as a group in about thirty minutes...quickly sharing our life stories, sunscreen, and even hats! 'Loved every minute of this trip! PS: the cabins and our meals were way over the top terrific!

Patricia G.
9 months ago

Lovely area of the country I had not previously visited. Great lodgings. Great guides. A really fun compatible group of women.

Anne K.
9 months ago

The other participants, the leaders, the accommodations, the activities and more. My only compliant is that the trip is too short for the activities that are available in the area. Another day with a short hike and then a half day of kayaking or paddle boarding in Stockade Lake which is a much larger than Sylvan Lake but even that would be fine.

Terri R.
1 year ago

I have taken several trips with AGC and hope to take more trips in the future. This was the shortest duration trip I have taken with AGC and that may been the contributing factor to the lack of personalization I felt in comparison to other trips. I was pleased with the trip. My favorite part was riding the Michelson Trail.

Loretta G.
1 year ago

Hinterwood was such a nice place to stay and I loved having my own room. The guides were really good at what they do - no worries. A 28 mile bike ride (18 before lunch and an optional 10 after lunch) that was probably 98% down hill on a path that had beautiful scenery the entire way and a go at your one pace was very special.

Teri L.
1 year ago

Loved the Lighting Ceremony at Mount Rushmore and checking this National Memorial off my bucket list.

Catherine M.
1 year ago

The opportunity to experience another part of our great country with wonderful people and guides.

Diane S.
1 year ago

The guides made sure that everyone got to do everything that wanted, such as longer cycling and a hiking extension so it felt like it was tailor made for me!

Anne W.
1 year ago

Susan R.
1 year ago

South Dakota was on my bucket list and it was great knowing that I would be well cared for by the AGC guides - all I had to do was "show up" each day for a new adventure!

Erin L.
1 year ago

Great inn guides and great group of women

Katie M.
1 year ago

Nice variety of activities with a little down time to enjoy the lovely and peaceful accommodations.

Doris E.
2 years ago

As usual, the interaction amongst participants and guides and sharing of life stories made this trip special for me.

Charlene F.
2 years ago

I always enjoy the atmosphere created by the guides and woman participants. The location was beautiful and the activities and hikes were excellent too. The trip felt like a long weekend with friends

Colleen W.
2 years ago

The hiking was challenging yet doable if you are in shape. The scenery was awesome. The biking was easy yet we had the opportunity to continue riding which was up hill for 6 to 8 miles before it became flat again. The company was very accommodating taking some of us 5 miles up hill and unloading us so we could ride up hill 1 mile and the remaining 7 flat miles to Hill City. Leaders were great. They encouraged us yet stayed back with the weaker hikers and giving them options. Food was perfect. And the group of women were great.

Carol M.
2 years ago

the group of women and the 2 excellent guides

Kathy W.
2 years ago

Guides - superb

Katherine P.
2 years ago

Terrific guides who work well together - they even cooked for us! - and who expertly handled all the logistics and other details, created a convivial and supportive dynamic to let us enjoy the experience and one another’s company

Sharon G.
2 years ago

Being outside in nature. Hiking and seeing the lovely scenery and views. The nice travel companions I met.

Kathleen W.
2 years ago

Riding the Mickelson Trail. All the activities were enjoyable, but that was the special highlight for me.

  1. Where do we eat?

    All but 1 dinner will be prepared by your guides. The dinner on the last night is at a restaurant where you can order off the menu. Lunches will be prepared and packed by your guides.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars and favorite trail snacks.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    With the exception of the discounted spot (day-bed in a common area), all rooms are private rooms with one queen bed in each. Bathrooms are shared with 1-2 other people. There is an option to upgrade to a single room with private bathroom (3 spots available).