9 Best Things To Do in Deadwood, South Dakota
Check out our list of 9 Best Things To Do in Deadwood if you plan a trip to South Dakota. Are you wondering if it’s worth a visit? It’s a fantastic city in the spirit of the Gold Rush, full of Wild West movie backdrops. Read our tips on where to stay, what to see, and the 9 best things to do in Deadwood, SD.This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Where is Deadwood?
Deadwood is a city in and county seat of Lawrence County, western South Dakota, in the beautiful scenery of Black Hills. It’s close to Wyoming and Montana border, next to Highway 14A. It’s approximately:
- 45 miles from Rapid City, SD,
- 50 miles from Mount Rushmore National Monument, SD,
- 60 miles from Crazy Horse Memorial, SD,
- 100 miles from Badlands National Park, SD,
- 385 miles from Sioux Falls, SD,
- 450 miles to Yellowstone National Park, WY.
Why Should You Visit Deadwood?
Deadwood is one of the most charming towns, where you will feel the atmosphere of the wildest part of the Wild West. Time has stood still here, and you can feel the spirit of the Gold Rush in the late 1800s. The well-preserved Gold Rush-era architecture, lots of things to do in Deadwood, and the location on the route of the top sights in South Dakota make this city a worthwhile stop on your itinerary.
Interesting Facts about Deadwood, South Dakota
- No rules. No regrets. That’s been the motto of Deadwood since the Gold Rush.
- Early settlers named Deadwood after the dead trees they found in its gulch.
- The city experienced its heyday from 1876 to 1879 after gold deposits were discovered there, sparking the Black Hills Gold Rush.
- In its heyday, the town had a population of 25,000 and was filled with miners, gamblers, and outlaws.
- Deadwood attracted famous Old West personalities such as Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok. The last – Wild Bill Hickok – was killed there.
- Deadwood is on the list of the National Historic Landmark District.
Where Can You Stay When Visiting Deadwood, SD?
Deadwood offers a wide range of hotels to suit every budget. However, it pays to book your stay in advance, especially during the peak summer season. Notably, most hotels in Deadwood offer quick access to the city’s attractions, including Historic Main Street. You can easily find a great deal in Deadwood if you plan your stay, as many luxurious accommodations are affordable.
We can recommend the Historic Franklin Hotel on Main Street so that you will be close to most Deadwood attractions. Moreover, you can also enjoy a meal at the in-house restaurant, which serves various steakhouse dishes.
Cedar Wood Inn is also an excellent choice. The rooms are beautifully and stylishly decorated. The warmth and atmosphere of the place are perfect; the staff is very friendly.
How Much Time do You Need to Visit Deadwood?
It all depends on your interests. A few hours, or half a day, is enough to explore the main attractions of Deadwood and see its historic architecture. But it is worth staying here for at least one night to feel the atmosphere of the Gold Rush city in the evening or to take advantage of the local attractions. Deadwood can also be an excellent base for exploring the area’s attractions in South Dakota. So if you like the old western climate, you can stay here even for a few days. So, check our list below with the best things to do in Deadwood and choose those that suit you most.
The 9 Best Things To Do In Deadwood SD
Take a Walk Along the Deadwood Historic Main Street
If you have only 1-2 hours for your visit, one of the best things to do in Deadwood is to walk along Historic Main Street. Historic Main Street is the most beautiful part of Deadwood. You can spend a few hours strolling down this street and marveling at the architecture that harkens back to the days of the Gold Rush. The buildings have been restored and present themselves perfectly. You can admire the details of the facades of buildings and shop windows. It’s a great place to take photos. Your photos will be fantastic if you wear an old-style cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and a leather jacket. You can get a shot like something out of a western movie. You can experience over 140 years of American history on this road. What’s more, it’s worth stopping along the 21 interpretive signs to learn about Deadwood’s history.
Go For a Drink at Wild Bill Bar
The Wild Bill Bar is the place where Wild Bill Hickok was killed. It’s located on Historic Main Street. So it’s worth visiting it. This place looks fantastic. It’s old-fashioned and old and decorated with many signs of the past and the Gold Rush. This historic bar features a pool, darts, and foosball. Live concerts are often held here. During our visit, we had the opportunity to listen to a piece of excellent country music.
Take a Tour to Broken Boot Gold Mine
Broken Boot Gold Mine is a fantastic place to visit, especially if you are traveling with children. You are sure to be thrilled when you enter the Black Hills’ best underground mine, taking you back to a time when the powerful thump of a miner’s pick and the explosion of dynamite was the signal to find the gold. The mine operated in the years 1878 – 1904. It produced about 15,000 ounces of gold, which was not too much.
TIPS: Address: 1200 Pioneer Way, Deadwood, SD. It’s open daily, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., from May 29 through Labor Day. Tours begin every 30 minutes and last 30 minutes. The last regular tour of the day is at 5:00 p.m. You must purchase a ticket in advance, so call 1-800-344-8826 to buy it.
Visit Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort
If you like gambling and want to spend money, you can visit Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort. It is the Black Hills’ hottest full-service casino and hotel. It offers 22 table games, each featuring $1,000 bet limits, or you can play one of over 240 slot machines. It’s available 24/7. However, this hotel is worth considering as a perfect place for a night. The interiors are spacious, well-equipped, and modern, and the service is at the highest level.
Visit the Adams Museum and Historic Adams House
In 1930, pioneer and businessman W.E. Adams founded the Adams Museum in Deadwood to preserve and exhibit the history of the Black Hills. Some of the Black Hills’ greatest treasures are displayed at the museum, including Potato Creek Johnny’s gold nugget of 7,346 troy ounces, and the pencil sketch of Western legend Wild Bill Hickok by famous American illustrator N.C. Wyeth, Thoen Stone’s mysterious record of discovering gold in the Black Hills by Ezra Kind’s group in the 1830s. You can also step back in time and admire a restored, Queen-Anne-style mansion – The Historic Adams House. It’s located at 22 Van Buren Street.
TIPS: The address is 54 Sherman Street, Deadwood, SD. It’s open from May through September daily, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. From October through April is open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday.
Visit Days of 76 Museum
One of the best things to do in Deadwood is visited the Days of ’76 Museum. This museum has an exciting history. According to the official website, The Days of ’76 Museum was established to honor Deadwood’s first pioneers – the prospectors, miners, muleteers, and madams. They flocked to the Black Hills in 1876 to settle the gold-filled canyons of the Dakota Territory. Since the first celebration in 1924, the Days of ’76 has grown into a legendary annual event featuring a historic parade and an award-winning rodeo. The Days of ’76 Museum began informally as a repository for the horse-drawn wagons and stagecoaches, carriages, clothing, memorabilia, and archives created during the celebration.
TIPS: The address is: 18 76th Dr, Deadwood, SD. It is open from May through September is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. October through April is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is Adults $8.00, Children 6-12 $3.00, Children 5 & under free.
Visit Mount Moriah Cemetery
If you have more time to visit, you should also visit the historic Deadwood Cemetery. It’s for sure one of the best things to do in Deadwood. Founded in 1878, Mount Moriah Cemetery is the final resting place of western legends, murderers, madams, and pillars of Deadwood’s early economic development. Mount Moriah Cemetery is the resting place of such notables as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. The cemetery is more than just a graveyard. You can turn back time here.
TIPS: The address is: 10 Mt Moriah Dr, Deadwood, SD. There is a $2.00 entrance fee to Mount Moriah Cemetery. It is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Check Exhibit – Tatanka: Story of The Bison
One of the best things to do in Deadwood is to visit Tatanka. The Tatanka Story of Bison is an iconic Deadwood landmark. It features colossal bronze sculptures of three Native American riders pursuing 14 bison. According to the official website, Ta’Tanka focuses on the symbiotic relationship between the Lakota Nation and the North American Plains Bison. It is also the 3rd largest bronze sculpture in the world. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, many scenes were filmed for the movie “Dances with Wolves” starring Kevin Costner. That’s why the Lakota People present the exhibition in movie costumes. From Deadwood is only 60 miles to Crazy Horse Memorial, the Largest Mountain Carving in Progress in the world.
TIPS: The address is: 100 Tatanka Dr, Deadwood, SD. You can book your ticket online.
See the Mount Theodore Roosevelt Monument
Also, a good idea for a shortstop is the Mount Theodore Roosevelt Monument. Located on Mount Roosevelt, just 2.5 miles from downtown Deadwood, is the Friendship Tower monument, built by Seth Bullock in memory of his friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt. After a short hike up to the tower, you will have views of the Black Hills of South Dakota. The walk to Friendship Tower and the overlook is less than a mile from the trailhead but is moderately uphill.
- Trip to Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota
- Trip to Mount Rushmore National Memorial
- Badlands National Park in Winter
- Things to do in Yellowstone in Winter
- Complete Guide to Devils Tower National Monument
There are so many great spots like Deadwood to visit on a trip through the midwest. It is fun to experience the spirt of the Gold Rush and Wild West movies. I am not sure in this time of Covid I would be visiting a place whose motto is “No Rules”. But hopefully that was really not an issue. It would be a fun stop on a road trip. And I would not miss a drink at the Wild Bill Bar. A fun stop back in time.
Wooow what a charming and pretty little town. When I think of old school America this is what comes to mine. I would so need to stay for longer then one night as just being in this beautiful town would ale me feel like a 1800 gold miner. Lovely blog as well
It looks so exciting. Am sure, it would have been some bustling town in its heydays. I would surely like to see the mines. We have abandoned mines in India, but they are not tourist places. Even the museum sounds like a must visit place.
It looks like a great town for a day trip. I would stroll the historic downtown and see what catches my attention in those wonderful shops. A chance to see what a population of 25,000 during the gold rush might look like.
Wow what fun! I love visiting the towns and places that were part of Gold Rush. We have so many towns similar to Deadwood in Australia and I love discovering those places. I have never been to South Dakota but have had it on my list for sure. I will surely take a walk around the main street.
A visit to Deadwood looks very exotic to me! In Germany (as in Europe) we do not have anything similar to the Gold Rush towns of the midwest. I guess, just out of sheer enthusiasm and for the experience, I would even buy a pair of cowboy boots when strolling down the mainstreet!
Deadwood sounds unique and fun. I am sure it was worth a visit since its declared as National Historic Landmark District. It was good to learn and get a glimpse of the Gold Rush-era architecture. I would love to stop at Days of ’76 Museum first. The name and the theme is very interesting.
Days of 75 – I was wondering what that would be about. After reading it, I deem it interesting. It would be fun to relive the life of that era. Adams museum sounds like a must-do. Cowboy shoes and gear for the pics – that definitely is an interesting tip for the pics 😀 I wonder how I would look
Deadwood sounds interesting and the pictures you have shown here are looked amazing. I would love to visit this place as it appears very unique to me. The theme of day 76 museum is fun and I would love to visit there.
Wow – this sounds rough’n’tough. Since the name Deadwood is not so inviting, your guide explains why the place is still worth a visit. I’d love to trace the region’s history at the museum – sounds inspiring and fun.
Have you visited all these places on one long US trip or did you go on various road trips?
Wow. I definitely want to go to the gold mine and Wild Bill bar. I have not been in that neck of the woods before.
Wow, Deadwood looks like such a unique and entertaining place to visit. I love the historic value it has as well as I always love learning about the destinations I travel to! The Days of ’76 Museum looks awesome between the name and what it has to offer inside. Thanks for sharing!
This is really like stepping inside a Western film! I’ve never been to South Dakota and I didn’t realise its association with the Gold Rush. The museums both sound interesting and the history is so rich here. I’m definitely sold on visiting when I’m in America.