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As we inch closer to swapping out our swimsuits and beach towels for light jackets and boots, it means one thing for many travelers: fall festival season is here! Though our summers are famous for family attractions and lazy lakes days, and winter celebrations have us treasuring our favorite holiday traditions, it's fall that offers the best sights, sounds and smells (What's not to love about pumpkin spice!?). If you're looking to celebrate the cooler weather, changing of leaves and harvest season, make plans to welcome autumn's onset in the Black Hills!

And our fall events lineup doesn't merely mean Halloween happenings; this time of year is also ripe with colorful festivals, car shows, hayrides, food and drink fests, and more! Take a look at some of our top picks for the upcoming season, and for a complete list of events, check them out on our online calendar here.

Sturgis Mustang Rally — August 30 - September 4

  • Come to Sturgis to see your share of mustangs and enjoy all of the competitions, poker runs, parade and racing. For more: sturgismustangrally.com.

Polkapalooza 2016: German Fall Fest — September 9 & 10

  • Head out to Palmer Gulch/Mt. Rushmore KOA Resort to enjoy a wide variety of ethnic foods, German beer, and dancing in the big tent to live music. Call (605) 574-2525 for more information.

Deadwood Jam — September 16 & 17

  • Rock, reggae and blues fill the Black Hills for two incredible days of outdoor concerts. www.deadwood.com

19th Annual Mickelson Trail Trek — September 16-18

51st Annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival — September 29 - October 1

  • Feel the thunder as you watch cowboys and cowgirls roundup and drive the herd of approximately 1,300 buffalo into corrals on Friday, September 30. Also enjoy the Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival held September 29 through October 1. www.custerstatepark.com

8th Annual Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival — September 24

  • This colorful festival held in downtown Rapid City features a pumpkin catapult, giant pumpkin weigh-off, chef competition, mini train, vendors and more! www.mainstreetsquarerc.com

Free National Park Day — September 24

  • Enjoy a day without entrance fees to Badlands National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park or Devils Tower National Monument. www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.

4th Annual Fall Volksmarch — October 2, 2016

  • This autumn hike at Crazy Horse Memorial will be held on Sunday, October 2, and is the public’s second chance of the year to walk up the world’s largest mountain carving in progress. www.crazyhorsememorial.org

30th Annual Black Hills Powwow — October 7-9

  • Experience the proud heritage and majestic pageantry of Native American dancers and drum groups as the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota nations gather for this annual celebration. www.blackhillspowwow.com.

Wild West Songwriters Festival — October 13 - 15

  • Hosted along Main Street in Deadwood and inside the Deadwood Mountain Grand, hit songwriters will be gathering together for three full days 0f performances, panels and parties. www.wildwestsongwriters.com.

Haunting of Keystone — October 16-18, 23-25, 30 & 31

  • Get ready to be spooked at this multi-event haunted house! Enter the mine, haunted forest and old schoolhouse at your own risk, but be prepared for a ghostly good time. www.hauntedkeystone.com.

Deadweird — October 28 & 29

  • This two-day Halloween event features a Monster Ball, live music, dancing and costume contest. www.deadwood.com

About the Author

Alicia is a South Dakota native with family roots in Beresford. She attended Augustana University in Sioux Falls—a year of which she spent studying in Norway and traveling throughout Europe. She acquired her degree in Sociology and International Studies. Despite her love of travel, she and her husband have thoroughly enjoyed making Rapid City their home. She satisfies her wanderlust by soaking up the beautiful scenery and historic treasures that the Hills have to offer. She is the Communications Director for Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association.

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