Backpacker: Raise your kids in Rapid City | Black Hills Travel Blog
  • Backpacker: Raise your kids in Rapid City

Kid backpacker

Backpacker Magazine has named Rapid City as one of the top 25 places in the United States to raise an outdoor kid.

An easy choice, in my humble opinion.

Growing up an East River flatlander, I always marveled at and was a little jealous of the local kids I'd see in the Black Hills when I'd come out here with my family on vacations. I'd see them sitting around the Latchstring Inn in Spearfish Canyon, their bikes parked outside. Or at a gas station in Rapid City with the fishing poles headed for the creek. Sometimes they looked bored, which I found incomprehensible. How could they be bored living here? (At the time, I considered myself an expert on boredom.)

That could be why I moved to the Black Hills as soon as I was old enough to live where I wanted to.

Backpacker, in its August issue, noted, "Sits in the shadow of the Black Hills and 7,242-foot Harney Peak -– the highest point east of the Rockies; Badlands and Wind Cave National Parks are a short drive away." The magazine also noted that the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks is building its West River Outdoor Campus in Rapid City.

From Rapid City, kids can take a short bike ride to all sorts of outdoor adventure. Rapid Creek runs right through town. Dinosaur Hill is in the middle of everthing. Cowboy Hill is a mountain biker's dream. And they can hop on the Bike Path and be at Canyon Lake in about 30 minutes.

Rapid City was ranked 19th, right behind Bozeman. Boulder was the top city. Boulder, Colo.,  Jackson, Wyo., Durango, Colo., Flagstaff, Ariz.,  and Jueau, Alaska were the top five.

About the Author

Dan is an on-again, off-again Black Hills resident since 1978. The Aberdeen native hit the road after high school, building houses in Boulder, working oil rigs on Colorado's Western Slope, delivering cars in California. In Wyoming and Idaho, he worked as a newspaper journalist. But the Black Hills kept luring him back. For 18 years, he wrote for the Rapid City Journal. The job gave him a chance to see the Hills from atop Mount Rushmore and the bottom of the Homestake Mine. Whenever possible, Dan grabs his dog Kody and heads to the Hills. These days, he's perfecting the art of low-impact backpacking: hike two hours to a scenic spot, break out the wine, cook up the pasta, watch the sunset and fall asleep under the stars.

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