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Unless you come to the Black Hills on an escorted package tour, a car is essential. I–90 cuts directly through South Dakota from west to east, connecting the northern towns of Spearfish, Sturgis, and Deadwood (which lies about 14 mi off the interstate) with Rapid City. From there the interstate turns straight east, passing Wall and Badlands National Park on its way to Sioux Falls.

Minor highways of importance include U.S. 385, which connects the interior of the Black Hills from south to north, and U.S. 16, which winds south of Rapid City toward the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse memorials. Highway 44 is an alternate route between the Black Hills and the Badlands. Within the Black Hills, seven highway tunnels have limited clearance; they are marked on state maps and in the state's tourism booklet.

Snowplows work hard to keep the roads clear in winter, but you may have trouble getting around immediately after a major snowstorm, especially in upper elevations. Unlike the Rockies, where even higher elevations make some major roads impassable in winter, the only Black Hills roads that close permanently in the snowy months are minor dirt- or gravel Forest Service roads.

Contact the South Dakota State Highway Patrol for information on road conditions.

Information

South Dakota State Highway Patrol. 511; hp.state.sd.us.

Car Rental

Rapid City Regional Airport is the best place to find car rentals. Make rental reservations early; Rapid City is visited by many business travelers, and rental agencies are often booked.

Contacts

Avis. 800/831–2847; www.avis.com.

Budget. 800/527–0700; www.budget.com.

Casey's Auto Rental Service. 1318 5th St., Rapid City, South Dakota. 605/343–2277; www.caseyscorner.com.

Dollar. 800/527–0700; www.dollar.com.

Hertz. 800/654–3131; www.hertz.com.

National. 800/227–7368; www.nationalcar.com.