Set on the northern edge of the Black Hills National Forest, Deadwood is a city in South Dakota, United States. Deadwood, South Dakota was named after its residents found dead trees in its gulch. Later, the Black Hills Gold Rush took place in the city, which led to the discovery of numerous gold deposits.
Today, the city is known for its historic gold mines, absorbing streets, and many museums. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker who loves hiking or a history buff willing to explore the wild west history, Deadwood, South Dakota has something to offer you.
We’ll uncover some of the best things to do in Deadwood whether you’re traveling alone or with your family.
Show Table of Contents
- Best Things to Do in Deadwood, South Dakota
- 1. Historic Adams House and Adams Museum
- 2. Broken Boot Gold Mine
- 3. Historic Main Street of Deadwood
- 4. Crazy Horse Memorial
- 5. The Black Hills National Forest
- 6. Mount Moriah Cemetery
- 7. Friendship Tower / Mount Roosevelt Picnic Area
- 8. George S Mickelson State Trail
- 9. Tatanka Story of the Bison
- 10. Mount Rushmore National Memorial
- 11. Bear Country USA
Best Things to Do in Deadwood, South Dakota
The historical landmarks, charming streets, scenic landscapes, and enticing history of Deadwood, South Dakota call out to travelers’ hearts.
You can ride a bike in the historic main street, stroll through the Mount Moriah Cemetery, or hike Mickelson trail George. Because of endless tourist attractions, you have plenty of things to do in Deadwood South Dakota.
If you’re wondering, “What to do in Deadwood, SD?,” we’ve got you covered! Below, we’ve curated a list of things to do in Deadwood to make your travel fun and memorable.
1. Historic Adams House and Adams Museum
The Adams House is often described as “the grandest house west of the Mississippi.” It was built by Deadwood pioneers Anna Franklin and Harris in 1892. This Queen-Anne-style mansion is one of the oldest history museums in South Dakota and home to some of the greatest treasures of the Black Hills, including Potato Creek Johnny’s gold nugget and Deadwood’s Wild Bill Hickok collection.
Get ready to dig into the triumphs and tragedies of the two founding families of Deadwood. The historic Adams house contains a modern 19th-century indoor electricity, plumbing system, stained glass windows, telephone service, and hand-painted canvas walls.
Back in the day, several business leaders gathered in the Historic Adams house to discuss the current affairs and enjoyed a palatable meal all along. Guests were shown hospitality with fine dining on a table equipped with 18-karat gold plates and silverware.
Besides, the parlor of the Adams house had a warm fireplace and a grand piano. Several music genres were played on a Victrola to entertain the guests. However, with the death of W.E. Adams in 1934, the convivial gatherings of the house soon turned solitary. Adams’ second wife – Mary Adams – left everything untouched, from the library books to the cookies in the kitchen.
The Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission bought the place in 1992 and turned to the Adams Museum in 2000. You can get to the museum in your car and enjoy the visit with cheap museum admissions. Children 5 and under are free. However, the donation for children 6-12 is $5, and for adults is $10 – pretty inexpensive for a historically rich and popular Adams Museum.
Make sure you check the official website for dates before visiting to ensure that the museum isn’t closed. The Adams Museum is located at 54 Sherman Street, and you can reach the accurate location by following the directions on the map.
2. Broken Boot Gold Mine
If you’re searching for things to do in Deadwood, and you haven’t considered this place on your list, your tour to Deadwood will remain incomplete. The year 1878 marks one of the most notable years in the history of South Dakota. The Broken Boot Gold Mine was established in the same year. Several merchants, travelers, miners, and traders visited Deadwood, South Dakota, searching for gold.
The era is named the Gold Rush, and rightfully so. People went gaga in search of gold, and the mine didn’t disappoint either. Nonetheless, the gold diminished with time, and the industry dried up.
Today, the Broken Boot Gold Mine only preserves the old heritage and past tales. But you can revive the good old days by visiting the mine.
You can go several feet underground to see the magnificent mine with a tour guide. The candlelight tour lets you explore history, experience gold panning, and make memories in as less as 30 minutes.
The tour prices of Broken Boot Gold Mine vary per age. Children under 5 can tour for free. However, students, adults, and seniors must pay $6, $8, and &7, respectively. Note that these prices do not include the gold panning tour – you need to pay extra for that.
You can check the official website of Broken Boot Gold Mine to book your tour today.
3. Historic Main Street of Deadwood
A stroll down the historic Main Street is perfect for reliving the historic Deadwood, SD. Surprisingly, you’ll experience the 140-year-old fascinating, rich history of deadwood within 30 minutes. The street includes buildings as old as the hills.
You can explore the town’s historic main street for several tourist sites, shops, old salons, and local restaurants. Besides, if you love watching live shows, you’ll find live reenactments of important events that took place on the street in the past.
Do not forget to shop for some souvenirs to save the memory of your visit to the main street. Overall, each spot and corner of the historic main street reveals the history of South Dakota.
The locals are pretty friendly; you can stop and chat with them as you roam around the street. You’ll also find some great indoor and outdoor dining options on the street.
Several local companies offer carriage rides along historic Main Street. If a carriage ride excites you, you can take one. If you’re looking for free things to do in Deadwood, make sure you keep the main street visit on your list.
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4. Crazy Horse Memorial
The Crazy Horse Memorial is one of the most enchanting places to visit in Deadwood South Dakota. A Polish-American Sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski is the face behind this magnificent design.
Crazy Horse Memorial is the world’s largest mountain carving – a reason enough to make it worth visiting. Its construction began in 1948 and is still incomplete. The construction workers carved an 87 1/2-foot tall face in 1998 and have been thinning the rest of the mountain for a 219-foot high head.
Though unfinished, this remarkable place is visited by more than a million people each year, and the number is increasing with time. The place is open year-round, but it’s best to check the official site for hours of operation.
People who want to tour around on foot, bike, or on motorbike pay $7. The admission prices differ per person in a vehicle. For instance, the price of a single person, 2 people, and 3 people or more touring in a vehicle are required to pay $12, $24, and $30, respectively.
The monument is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and is 4 miles away from the north of Custer, SD, and 9 miles south of Hill City, SD. You can get there from US Highway 16/385.
5. The Black Hills National Forest
Located in northeastern Wyoming and southwestern South Dakota, the Black Hills National Forest piques the interest of nature lovers. If you love exploring natural attractions, visiting the Black Hills forest is one of the best things to do lead.
The Lakota word Paha Sapa means “Hills that are black,” and the forest hills were subsequently named as “Black Hills.” If you view them from afar, the pine-covered hills actually appear to be black.
1.2 million acres of mountains and hills make up the forest. Also known as the Island of Plains, the forest has diverse plant and animal species. You’ll be excited to explore several streams, grasslands, rock formations, and caves.
The top recreational Deadwood activities in the forest include visiting spectacular beaches, hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, and much more.
Generally, there is no fee to visit the forest. However, a few daytime recreation sites cost $3 to $5 per vehicle. Frequent visitors can purchase a $20 to $30 annual pass too.
6. Mount Moriah Cemetery
Are you a history buff? Visiting Mount Moriah Cemetery is one of the best things to do in Deadwood. While a few people creep at the sight of cemeteries, others find it incredibly interesting. If you’re from the latter group, you’ll love visiting the place.
This cemetery is located on a mountain plateau and offers a scenic view of the nearby surroundings. The Mount Moriah Cemetery was established in 1855. Though it was abandoned by its owners, the Mount Moriah Cemetery Preservation Corporation continues to restore this beautiful green place.
The aim is to make the cemetery accessible for families to connect with nature and seek serenity in lush green surroundings and a clean atmosphere.
Every year thousands of visitors visit the final resting place of historical figures of Deadwood. Several western legends, pillars, and murderers are buried here. The people who died during gold mining are also resting in Mount Moriah Cemetery.
Further, notable figures like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok are also buried in the cemetery. The Victorian-style graveyard is quite gorgeous, and the black hills in the background perfectly complement its beauty.
The cemetery is open seven days a week. However, you need to pay $2 to visit the sacred place – a low price for the cemetery’s beauty. The funds are utilized to maintain and beautify the cemetery.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Custer State Park
7. Friendship Tower / Mount Roosevelt Picnic Area
Also known as the Friendship Tower, Mount Theodore Roosevelt Monument is about 2.5 miles from downtown Deadwood, South Dakota. The monument was built by Seth Bullock in memory of his friendship with Theodore Roosevelt -the youngest President of the United States.
Seth Bullock and Roosevelt met in 1892 when the latter was riding a horse with his companions while crossing Belle Fourche River. Both parties became skeptical of each other until they met and introduced themselves.
If you’re wondering about the top things to do in Deadwood with friends, this place is a must-see destination. You can hike up the tower, click pictures with your friend, and make lovely memories.
Also, if you’re looking for a picnic spot, the green surroundings of the monument are a perfect place to stop by and enjoy a lovely afternoon with friends or family.
You can reach the monument by taking US Hwy 85, northbound out of Deadwood. Then, you need to travel about 1.5 miles and turn onto FSR 133. Finally, you’ll come across a 2-mile signboard for the Mt. Theodore Roosevelt picnic area.
If you’re looking for free-of-cost deadwood things to do, this monument is a place to visit. However, make sure you wear comfortable clothing and hiking gear to make the visit even more enjoyable.
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8. George S Mickelson State Trail
George S Mickelson Trail will quench your thirst for hiking. It’s a place where biking, horseback riding, and hiking enthusiasts can explore thick forests and where spirits of historical figures like Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane still roam.
Located in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills, this 108 miles paved path is perfect to explore with family and friends. Whether you like to get around on foot or like to ride a bike, the crushed limestone trail offers a satisfying experience for anyone seeking a thrill.
What’s more, as you walk or ride, you’ll come across endless scenic views that’ll breathe new life into you. You’ll also see several bird species on your way.
Besides, you’ll find four hard rock tunnels and around 100 railroad bridges. The trail is accessible from about 15 trailheads and is open year-round. It costs around $4 for a daily visit and $15 if you make an annual purchase. You can book the tickets online, too.
Further, make sure you check the George S Mickelson Hiking trails map to access the trails and take the most suitable path from your current location. If you have an adventurous soul, hiking on the Mickelson trail is one of the best things to do in Deadwood.
9. Tatanka Story of the Bison
One of the many things people expect to see on their visit to Deadwood, South Dakota is Bison. Tatanka is a Lakota word that translates as “big beast” which refers to North American Bison. This place is a tribute to these captivating eye mammals.
Unfortunately, thanks to hunting there was a catastrophic drop in the number of bison from an estimated 30 million to just 325 during the 19th Century. Thankfully, the efforts of a few conversationalists protected the species, and the number began to increase.
This popular attraction was built to bring awareness about this close-to-extinction animal. Tatanka’s Story of Bison is home to the 3rd largest bronze sculpture in the world. Additionally, you’ll see 14 bison ridden by three Lakota riders on the back. These figures depict the bison jump – a popular form of Bison hunting.
The place also has a museum that depicts the story of preserving bison. A gift shop contains several local and Lakota-made jewelry and art pieces. The admission price for adults is $12 and for children is $6. Military, First Responders, Veterans, and guests over 60 are given $2 off.
See Related: Visiting Wall Drug of South Dakota
10. Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is yet another place in Deadwood South Dakota, that calls out to the hearts of history buffs. Located near Keystone in the Black Hills, the mount symbolizes the ideals of democracy and liberty and is one of the most famous landmarks in the state and the entire US.
The mount is built in the memory of former presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. If you’ve been searching for Deadwood things to do, this memorial is one of the best places to visit with family.
There’s no entrance fee to Mount Rushmore. However, you’re required to pay for parking. Private vehicles, commercial buses, and school buses cost $10, $50, and $25, respectively.
Whether you plan to take public transportation or a car, the directions are pretty easy to follow. You can check the National Park Service’s official website to know accurate directions.
11. Bear Country USA
If you’re an animal lover, visiting the Bear Country wildlife park is one of the best things to do in Deadwood. The drive-through wildlife park of Deadwood, South Dakota, has several wolves, elks, and bears.
You can catch a sight of various animals from a safe distance. These include otters, mountain lions, bears, and buffalos. However, note that the park is open from spring through late November.
If you’re planning to visit South Dakota this weekend or in the coming few weeks, you won’t be able to visit the place. So, it’s best to check the official website to stay updated on the opening dates.
Also, note that pets are not allowed in the park, as they may attract unwanted attention from the bears! The entrance fee for adults is $16 and for children is $10.
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a seasoned traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers find their next adventure, whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites.
He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wonderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). He loves listening to people’s stories from around the world as well as sharing his own experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.