Black Hills Magic

In Tours by Richard Norton Smith

June 11, 2024 - June 18, 2024

Black Hills Magic

Monuments, Missiles and the Wild West

Starting at $4,895

About Black Hills Magic Tour

After more than twenty years on the American road uncovering a history not always found in the history books, it gives us special pleasure to plan a trip to a place new to us. Such a destination is South Dakota and its Badlands region. The first human entry into the adjacent Black Hills is frankly uncertain. The oldest Indian site found to date is a little over 7,000 years old. It is thought these early people were big game hunters who stalked the mammoth and bison that thrived in the lush post-glacial grass lands.

For eight days in June 2024, we will follow in their footsteps, encountering fossilized remains of prehistoric creatures, ancient mountains carved by daredevil sculptors, and the raucous frontier of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock. Basing ourselves in Rapids City, South Dakota – and staying in the same downtown hotel for eight nights – we’ll explore stunning landscapes in and around the Black Hills. From a moving nighttime lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore and a mountaintop excursion to the nearby Crazy Horse Memorial – a monument in the making – to Wyoming’s Devils Tower, and the colorful history of Deadwood.

On the itinerary: An old gold mine, restored 19th century brothel, Victorian mansion, and a scenic train ride through the Black Hills. We’ve included a safari Jeep ride through herds of Buffalo and other animals in Custer State Park, lunch at Calvin Coolidge’s summer White House, an actual Minuteman missile in its Cold War silo, plus chuckwagon dinners and frontier breakfasts. And did we mention: THE SAME HOTEL – THE RUSHMORE – FOR THE ENTIRE TRIP.

With a first-class hotel, meals to match, and the incomparable landscape of the Badlands – we think you’ll agree that this tour does indeed deliver Black Hills Magic.

Tour Itinerary

Rapid City, South Dakota

We meet as a group at the Hotel Rushmore in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota. Our first adventure today is a scenic ride on the Black Hills Central Railroad, an 1880 train that takes us into the heart of the beautiful Black Hills. In the history of the American frontier, no development was more influential than the railroad and its iron horses. Steel rails crisscrossed the plains, ran up into the mountains and brought settlers and town-builders to areas that had been home to native tribes for centuries. Next, we’ll visit Dinosaur Park. Located on a ridge of sandstone that encircles the Black Hills, where many dinosaur skeletons from the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous have been found. After lunch, our last stop today is Chapel in the Hills, a faithful re-creation of the Borgund Stavkirke circa 1150. It's one of the oldest, best preserved Stavkirkes (or stave churches) in Norway. A special Welcome Dinner tonight is planned.

Tour Includes

  • Tour arrangements by Presidents & Patriots Historical Tours, which reserves the right to modify this itinerary in order to maintain the quality of the tour.
  • Presidents & Patriots Historical Tours is not a full-service travel agency. Tour participants can save by making their own transportation arrangements to and from Rapid City, SD.
  • Please note that there will be a fair amount of walking involved on this tour.
  • Meeting/Departing from the lobby of Rushmore Hotel & Suites (located at 445 Mt. Rushmore Road, Rapid City, SD) on the morning of Tuesday, June 11, 2024 at 8:00am. Please arrive early for timely departure.
  • Meals: Tour includes seven (7) breakfasts, seven (7) lunches, and six (6) dinners.
  • Insurance: Presidents & Patriots Tours suggests highly affordable travel insurance through I Travel Insured to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances. TO COMPARE PROTECTION OPTIONS YOU WILL RECEIVE A LINK VIA E-MAIL WHEN YOU REGISTER. NOTE: Travel Insurance is optional. You may obtain insurance from any provider you wish or forgo it altogether.
  • Deposit: To maintain quality, space on this tour is limited. A $1,000.00 deposit per person is required to confirm your reservation. Reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Deluxe transportation via climate-controlled motor coach, featuring on-board restroom, individual 110-volt power supply access (for cell phones, DVD player, iPads or lap tops), as well as Wi-Fi (wireless internet) throughout the coach.
  • Deluxe Accommodations: Rushmore Hotel & Suites (June 11 – 18, 2024)
  • Balance: Final payment must be received by Presidents and Patriots Tours on or before April 1, 2024. Cancellations are subject to loss of full tour cost unless suppliers grant exceptions.
  • All taxes and gratuities for all group functions, including meals, guides, bellmen, and motor coach driver.
  • AIR TRANSPORTATION: The airport servicing Rapid City, SD is Rapid City Regional Airport – RAP.
  • Admission fees to all historic sites, attractions and museums listed on the itinerary.
  • IMPORTANT NOTICE: Presidents and Patriots has reserved a courtesy block of rooms at Rushmore Hotel & Suites for the night prior to the start of the tour (the night of June 10 th ). Please let us know if you would like one of these rooms. You would then simply pay for this advance night upon arrival.

Meet Your Host


Richard Norton Smith is a nationally recognized authority on the American presidency and a familiar face to viewers of C-SPAN, as well as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Following graduation from Harvard in 1975, he worked as a White House intern and a speech writer for Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke. In 1979 he went to work for Senator Bob Dole, with whom he collaborated on several volumes of autobiography and political humor.

Smith’s first major book, Thomas E. Dewey and His Times, was a finalist for the 1983 Pulitzer Prize. He has also written An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover (1984), The Harvard Century: The Making of a University to a Nation (1986), Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation (1993), The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, which received the prestigious Goldsmith Prize awarded by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School, and has been described by Hilton Kramer as “the best book ever written about the press.” In October 2014 Random House published On His Own Terms, a monumental life of Nelson Rockefeller described by Douglas Brinkley as “one of the greatest cradle to grave biographies written in the past 50 years,” and tagged in advance by Amazon as one of the fall’s Twenty Big Books in Biography and Memoir.

Between 1987 and 2001, Mr. Smith served as Director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa; the Dwight D. Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas; the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the Reagan Center for Public Affairs in Simi Valley, California; the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, Michigan respectively.

In December, 2001 Mr. Smith became director of the new Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. There he supervised construction of the Institute’s $11.3 million permanent home and launched a Presidential Lecture Series and other high profile programs. In October, 2003 he was appointed the first Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a four building complex in Springfield, Illinois. The Library opened to the public in 2004 and the Museum opened the next year.

Much in demand as a speaker, in 2009 Smith was invited by Congress to be one of two historians addressing it on the two hundred anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Earlier, millions of television viewers heard him deliver the final eulogy at Gerald Ford’s Michigan funeral, a role he repeated at Betty Ford’s request when she was laid to rest beside her husband in 2011. Smith is currently at work on a biography of President Ford. Twice a year he personally leads historical tours ( emphasizing American presidents and history rarely found in the text books.

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