"The Hub of the Black Hills" Top 5 Page for this destination Rapid City by Toughluck

Rapid City Travel Guide: 89 reviews and 156 photos

Geology abounds at every turn

South Dakota's landscapes reflect the underlying rocks and the ancient overburden of massive continental glaciers.

East side of the state was covered by glaciers that once stood a mile or more (2 km's or more) at their thickest. These massive ice sheets pushed and scraped the surface of the earth, reforming the land. Today, the structure of the east side of the state shows rivers and valley that flow north and south.

The divide separating the east side from the west is the Missouri River. In many ways, it is the front edge of the glacial ice. All the streams taht once flowed to the east poured their waters up against a wall of ice and turned southward, following the ice front until it created a new river. The same was true of the water running off the glacier.

The west side of the state was not touched by glaciers and reveals the land as it once preceded the cold ice age. Streams flow in an eastward direction, cutting into the soft soils, creating escarpments of spires and slender step ravines. It is in these badlands along the valley sides that ancient fossils have been found. Where a plumb of hard rock was encountered, the rains and snows of the ages have washed the soils away, leaving a dome of hills, dark in color.

Public Lands of the Black Hills

  • Last visit to Rapid City: Jul 2001
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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  • 807Wheaton's Profile Photo
    May 8, 2010 at 3:16 AM

    Very well organized synopsis of the things to do in this area. Wish we would have spent a week there. Greetings from Augusta, GA.


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