Keystone is a small town in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was built as a gold mining town, but after tourists started to arrive to see the Mount Rushmore monument, which is only two miles from the town, it began to transform itself into a vacation resort. Visitors will find plenty to see and do, with both educational and fun attractions.
Keystone is the gateway to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Visitors to the Black Hills region have a choice of three airports: Rapid City Regional Airport (rcgoc.org), Billings Logan International Airport (flybillings.com) and Sioux Falls Regional Airport (sfairport.com). Interstate 90 is the main access route for tourists arriving by car. The town also can be reached by public bus service.
Keystone has a continental climate, with four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and semi-humid, with July temperatures reaching the high 90s; thunderstorms are common. Winter months tend to be cold and dry, with January temperatures often below freezing.
Where to Stay
Keystone has a good selection of accommodations, which are mainly small inns and lodges, such as Battle Creek Lodge (blackhillsbadlands.com) and the family-owned Roosevelt Inn (rosyinn.com). Rushmore Express (rushmoreexpress.com) is a family-friendly hotel, with standard double rooms and family suites, an indoor pool and Jacuzzi and an exercise room. Log cabins and RV sites are available at Kemp’s Kamp (kempskamp.com) on the outskirts of town. Visitors also can stay at Custer State Park, which has four lodges (custerresorts.com), including the Blue Bell mini dude lodge, as well as several campgrounds with hard pads, fire grates and picnic tables. Shower blocks and rest rooms are provided, and guests can either dine in one of the park’s restaurants or purchase groceries from the convenience store. Primitive camping is permitted within the French Creek Natural Area.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
This monument, with likenesses of the faces of presidents George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson carved into the granite rock, was completed in 1941. It is one of the world’s best-known landmarks, receiving almost 3 million visitors per year. For the best view, take a ride on the aerial tramway, with the option of making the return journey by wheeled sled down the Alpine Slide. Mount Rushmore is surrounded by national parkland, which is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Custer State Park
Custer State Park is a vast natural area in the Black Hills. The park contains miles of walking trails and scenic drives and four lakes where visitors can hire rowboats and kayaks or fish for trout. Other recreational activities include hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding and jeep rides.
Many of Keystone’s attractions, such as the Keystone Historical Museum (keystonechamber.com), are related to the town’s history and heritage. Big Thunder Goldmine (bigthundermine.com) offers guided tours of the old workings and has a mining museum next door. The Borglum Historical Center (rushmoreborglum.com) celebrates the life and works of Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of the Mount Rushmore monument; historical scenes are recreated with waxwork figures at the National Presidential Wax Museum (presidentialwaxmuseum.com). Rushmore Cave is a natural attraction that is an estimated 60 million years old. Take a guided tour through the winding passageways and echoing caverns to see the remarkable stalactite and stalagmite formations. The 1880 Train (1880train.com) takes visitors on a two-hour journey through the Black Hills on a vintage steam train.
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