Summer Activities in the Black Hills of South Dakota

The vast landscapes of South Dakota might conjure of images of the Wild West – expansive skies, rugged landscapes, and bison roaming free. This summer is the perfect opportunity for you to experience the outdoor beauty of the Black Hills firsthand! 

Weather to Expect During Summer

Pack your t-shirts, shorts, and sunscreen because summer in the Black Hills is warm, dry, and sunny. July and August are the warmest months of the year with temperatures averaging in the 70s and 80s, though sometimes reaching the 90s. The high elevation of the Black Hills means the sun is very intense, though fortunately, breezy winds and low humidity help keep daytime weather comfortable. You may need a light jacket or sweater for early mornings and evenings. 

Girl hiking in the Black Hills

Hiking Opportunities

Spend a whole summer in the Black Hills, and you won’t run short of trailheads to explore. Hiking opportunities in the Black Hills are endless – from winding ravines to rugged mountains, you’ll experience a wide variety of terrain and witness endless breathtaking landscapes. The most famous of local trails, the George S. Mickelson Trail, is both epic and relentless, boasting 109 miles of path to explore. Along the way, you’re likely to encounter bison, elk, and other common wildlife. Completing this circuit is an impressive notch on any hiker’s belt! 

Four wheeler on a path driving through the mud in the Black Hills

Adventure Tours

This summer, challenge yourself to try something new! With its expansive wilderness, the Black Hills offer a wide variety of unique summer activities. For instance, visitors can rent an ATV and go exploring through the Black Hills Forest, which stretches for more than 1.2 million acres. There are over 3,600 miles of roads and trails for motorized travel. 

Visitors may also be surprised to learn that the Black Hills are a great place to go scuba diving. The Pactola Reservoir Complex includes 2 miles of water where divers can search for fish and the underwater remains of the submerged Pactola ghost town. It is the perfect location for beginners to get started. Contact Black Hills Aquatic Adventures in Rapid City for lessons or equipment rentals. 

Mountain biker biking in the woods in the Black Hills

Bike Tours

Many of the local hiking trails are also a great place to go biking. The Mickelson Trail includes terrain appropriate for cyclists of varying experience levels. Cyclists will follow winding roads and bridges through gorgeous spruce and ponderosa forests. If that isn’t enough, Black Elk Peak and Jewel Cave National Monument Area are further examples of beautiful trails open to cyclists. Those unable to bring their own bike may rent from Sanford Lab Homestake or Deadwheel Bike Rentals. 

Swimming hole with a waterfall in the Black Hills

Swimming Holes

In the summer heat, no doubt you and the family will be looking for opportunities to cool off. Make a splash in one of the local swimming holes of the Black Hills. Spearhead Canyon is one of the most popular local spots. It is home to the famous Devil’s Bathtub, which provides amazing canyon scenery, including a waterfall leading to the swimming hole. 

For a more “reclusive” swimming hole, check out Hippie Hole, which offers swimming, picnicking, cliff jumping, sunbathing, and wildlife viewing. Though popular with locals, this spot is not well known to tourists. After a long day swimming or exploring the forests, come home to one of our gorgeous Black Hills cabin rentals for a chance to relax and recharge in anticipation of your next big adventure. We provide an extensive list of vacation rentals with gorgeous views, modern furnishings, and all the comforts of home. We’re here to help you plan your next big adventure!