9 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Deadwood, SD
Author Brad Lane visited Deadwood and the Black Hills as part of an extensive trip through South Dakota.
Scenic surroundings and Wild West history define the city of Deadwood on the northern edge of the Black Hills National Forest in western South Dakota. The city retains much of its Old West charm, including historic storefronts and a rustic style on the streets. The live reenactments on Historic Main Street during the summer add to this Wild West theme.
Visitors walk in the steps of "Wild Bill" Hickok and Calamity Jane on Historic Main Street in downtown Deadwood and even stumble upon the cemetery where these legendary folk heroes lay to rest. Among this history are several modern tourist attractions, including museums, Western retail, and patio-clad restaurants.
Outdoor things to do are abundant in Deadwood. The northern terminus of the 109-mile George S. Mickelson Trail is near the old railroad depot in Deadwood, and the surrounding Black Hills offer sublime sightseeing opportunities. The Whistler Gulch Campground on the edge of town is consistently busy during the summer.
Other places to visit, like the Mount Theodore Roosevelt Monument or Tatanka: Story of the Bison, combine the storied history and scenic beauty of the region.
For more ideas on the best places to visit, see our list of the top attractions and things to do in Deadwood.
See also: Where to Stay in Deadwood
- 1. Historic Main Street & Old Town
- 2. George S. Mickelson Trail
- 3. The Adams Museum and Historic Adams House
- 4. Broken Boot Gold Mine
- 5. Days of 76 Museum
- 6. Mount Moriah Cemetery
- 7. Tatanka: Story of The Bison
- 8. Mount Theodore Roosevelt Monument
- 9. Day Trip to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial
- Where to Stay in Deadwood for Sightseeing
- Deadwood, SD - Climate Chart
1. Historic Main Street & Old Town
Shops, signs, and historical points of interest line Historic Main Street, bringing the colorful history of Deadwood back to life, including some of the city's most celebrated characters.
This bustling part of town is often central for any Deadwood vacation. Tourists line this corridor up and down during the summer, patronizing the many local restaurants and shops that match the Western motif. The fun extends well into the evening, making Main Street a central place for things to do at night.
History also lines Main Street. Historical landmarks and plaques designate important dates and locations that shaped the city's legacy today. This includes a signpost indicating the spot where "Wild Bill" Hickok was assassinated by Jack "Crooked Nose" McCall.
Throughout the summer on Historic Main Street, professional actors recreate significant moments in Deadwood's past, creating a live show that undoubtedly draws a crowd. These live reenactments include the famous Trial of Jack McCall and three Main Street Shootouts that occur each day. These historically accurate exhibitions with costumed characters are family-friendly and a big hit with young children.
2. George S. Mickelson Trail
The George S. Mickelson Trail spans for more than 100 miles north and south through western South Dakota, providing bikers, hikers, and horseback riders an invaluable way to experience Black Hills National Forest.
Formerly a Burlington Northern Railroad line, the George S. Mickelson Trail maintains an even grade as it spans bridges, passes through rock tunnels, and traverses some of South Dakota's most scenic areas. Deadwood has special significance for the George S. Mickelson Trail, serving as the route's northern terminus and trailhead.
Local bike shops in Deadwood offer rentals to explore the George S. Mickelson Trail. The most popular way to navigate the trail is with an out-and-back journey. Places like Nevada Gulch Road in Lead, South Dakota, are a common turnaround points. Another option is setting a shuttle farther down the trail in places like Rochford, 30 miles away.
Read More: Best National & State Parks in South Dakota
3. The Adams Museum and Historic Adams House
To get a firsthand look at the city's Wild West origins, the Adams Museum and Historic Adams House provide a clear window into Deadwood's territorial beginnings. The facility features artifacts, exhibits, and information about Deadwood's most notorious characters, including "Wild Bill" Hickok and Calamity Jane.
The Adams Museum also dives into the nefarious side of life in Deadwood that occurred during the days of the Black Hills Gold Rush. These family-friendly museum exhibits illustrate the crime and dangerous conditions of Deadwood in the late second half of the 1800s.
The Historic Adams House provides an even deeper look into this era a few blocks away. This historic home was built in 1892 and has remained virtually untouched since 1934. Visitors today can take a guided tour of the property and literally step back into Deadwood's past.
The Historic Adams House operates between May and September, with limited hours in October and April. No tours are offered during the winter.
- Address: 54 Sherman Street, Deadwood, South Dakota
Historic Adams House
- Address: 22 Van Buren Street, Deadwood, South Dakota
4. Broken Boot Gold Mine
The Broken Boot Gold Mine takes visitors underground to explore Deadwood's historic gold rush past. This retired facility operated as an authentic gold mine from 1876 to 1904 and has provided a fun place to visit for the last 70 years,
Tours are available every 30 minutes at the Broken Boot Gold Mine. By exploring the ore car paths, visitors witness the once-working areas of countless miners looking to strike gold in the Black Hills. Tours include narration by a knowledgeable guide, shedding a light on the laborious underground occupation.
Each visitor to Broken Boot Gold Mine earns a souvenir stock certificate from the mine. For a small additional price, young explorers are encouraged to pan for their own gold with a high chance of finding something worth bringing back home.
Broken Boot also offers special tours, including a Candlelight Experience Tour and a Miner's Morning Experience.
Address: 1200 Pioneer Way, Deadwood, South Dakota
5. Days of 76 Museum
The Days of 76 Museum commemorates the collection of miners, prospectors, and gold panners that flooded into Deadwood during the 1876 Gold Rush. However, the museum first began and continues to be a cultural celebration of the area.
This brick-and-mortar museum stems from needing storage space for the horse-drawn wagons from the Days of '76 parade that first took place in 1924. Through additions to the inventory plus a brand-new building in 2004, the current Days of 76 Museum now offers 32,000 square feet of exhibits and artifacts to explore.
The near century-old Days of '76 parade still takes place every year and is coupled with the nationally recognized Days of '76 Rodeo. These two crowd-drawing events take place in July, which also happens to be one of the most beautiful months to explore the Black Hills. Hotels, campsites, and all places to stay become very competitive during this time of year.
Address: 18 Seventy-Six Drive, Deadwood, South Dakota
6. Mount Moriah Cemetery
Mount Moriah Cemetery sits high above the city, nestled deep into the Black Hills. It's the final resting place for some of Deadwood's most notable characters. This includes the likes of "Wild Bill" Hickock, Calamity Jane, Preacher Smith, and Potato Creek Johnny. Seeing these monuments helps instill the real-life history of the town.
Parking is sometimes scarce at the cemetery. Informational exhibits and handouts help visitors learn more about the people behind the names etched in stone. And above all else, the elevated landscape offers a great chance to walk through and soak in some scenic Black Hills landscapes.
Address: 10 Mount Moriah Drive, Deadwood, South Dakota
7. Tatanka: Story of The Bison
Located at the north end of Deadwood, Tatanka: Story of The Bison is a larger-than-life exhibit paying tribute to the millions of bison that once roamed the Great Plains of the area. The exhibit also commemorates the native cultures that thrived alongside the bison.
Founded and operated by the Hollywood actor, Kevin Costner, Tatanka features bronze sculptures depicting a group of bison being pursued by American Indians on horseback, all at a 125-percent scale.
As well as admiring the stunning artwork that captures the motion of a bison hunt, visitors to Tatanka also enjoy the exhibits at the Northern Plains Peoples Educational Interpretive Center.
The Interpretive Center features detailed information about bison and the culture that depended on them. Authentic Lakota interpretive presentations occur daily at Tatanka, offering further insight into the history of the region.
Address: 100 Tatanka Drive, Deadwood, South Dakota
8. Mount Theodore Roosevelt Monument
Also known as the "Friendship Tower," the Mount Theodore Roosevelt Monument stands just under three miles north of downtown Deadwood. It was spurred to completion in 1919 by Deadwood's first mayor, Seth Bullock, stemming from a close relationship with Theodore Roosevelt.
Bullock wanted to commemorate the president and one-time Medora, North Dakota sheriff, and so he commissioned this 30-foot stone tower. Not only is the history behind the monument fun and unique, but every step of the short hike up to the monument exposes a rich look at the Black Hills and surrounding scenery.
This day-use monument is operated by the U.S. Forest Service and features five different picnic sites to extend a visit. There's no admission fee required to visit the Friendship Tower, making this monument a popular free thing to do in Deadwood.
9. Day Trip to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial
No trip to the Black Hills is complete without admiring its two largest monuments. Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial are both within an hour's drive of Deadwood, and both serve as symbolic landmarks of the region's history.
Mount Rushmore, completed in 1941 after 14 years of construction, is a remarkable sight to see. A lovely veranda and viewing platform enable a great look at the four U.S. Presidents dynamited and carved into the mountain. Several educational resources are also available, primarily detailing the larger-than-life construction project led by sculptor Gutzon Borglum.
Crazy Horse Memorial, less than a 30-mile drive from Mount Rushmore, is an equally important monument carved into the mountainside. This even larger monument has been under construction since its start in 1947. The on-site Indian Museum of North America ties the story together, including insight into indigenous populations.
Where to Stay in Deadwood for Sightseeing
Alongside its abundance of history and entertainment, Deadwood has a wide variety of hotels to choose from. Nearly all hotel accommodations in Deadwood lend quick access to the city's many attractions, including the Historic Main Street. Because of the many overnight options, it can be easy to find a competitive price in Deadwood, making for many luxurious accommodations at affordable rates.
- To spend the night in style when visiting Deadwood, the SpringHill Suites Deadwood offers rooms and suites close to downtown and features amenities like infinity pools and fire pits to really cap off your stay nicely.
- North of town, near Tatanka: Story of the Bison, The Lodge at Deadwood offers well-furnished rooms at affordable rates, as well as an elaborate indoor water park and the first-class Deadwood Grille.
- Atop the city on Deadwood Mountain, the Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel, a Holiday Inn Resort is in a historic building close to downtown and provides a fitness center, indoor pool, and banquet room.
- For one of the best values around town, as well as some of the most fun you can have, the Celebrity Hotel is located in the heart of downtown and features costumed characters, movie memorabilia, and an attentive staff.
- Located just down the street from the Celebrity Hotel, The Hotel by Gold Dust also offers affordable rates for their spacious rooms and a stylish lobby where you can enjoy breakfast.
- Just south of downtown, the Super 8 Deadwood delivers on the dependability you'd expect from a national brand, as well as spacious, affordable rooms and an attached restaurant.
Deadwood, SD - Climate Chart
|Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Deadwood, SD in °C
|Average monthly precipitation totals for Deadwood, SD in mm.
|Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Deadwood, SD in °F
|Average monthly precipitation totals for Deadwood, SD in inches.
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Other Cities in South Dakota: The Black Hills of South Dakota are also on full display in the city of Custer. This modern city lends the quickest access to iconic attractions like Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Likewise, Rapid City also features quick access to the Black Hills and is a great launching point for adventures in Badlands National Park. On the eastern side of the state, Sioux Falls offers a plethora of natural and modern attractions.
Camping in South Dakota: With such an abundance of natural spaces to explore, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of places to camp in South Dakota, and our Best Campgrounds in South Dakota article highlights some of the most scenic. For a more in-depth look at campsites in two recommended adventure destinations, see our articles on the Best Campgrounds around Mount Rushmore and Best Campgrounds in Badlands National Park.