What to See and Do - Lead

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Homestake Gold Mine

Open year round, the new Visitor Center is at the lower end of the town and is adjacent to the worldユs largest open pit gold mine. The center offers surface tours of the mine (daily from June to September), and a short, really good, free informative film. There is also a mini-museum and a huge gift shop with lots of Black Hills gold. The Observation Deck is open to the public – just walk out back and use the coin viewers to look down into the massive open cut – truly impressive, as is the new interpretive center. The mineユs website describes the tour thus: メ[It] includes a trip through historic Lead, and a surface tour of Sanford Lab. In the Yates hoist room, youユll see hoists that have been in operation since 1939, including how they are maintained. Youユll also learn about the more-than 5,000 feet of rope that take personnel to the underground. If youユre lucky, you may even see the hoists in action! Youユll also learn a little bit about the mining process and the state-of-the-art waste water treatment plant designed by Homestake Mining Company and still used today by Sanford Lab and other companies around the world.モ Tours last approximately one hour. Adults are $7.50, with discounts for students and seniors, and kids under seven are free. The mine is an absolute must for any visit to the Hills, as impressive as Mount Rushmore and Devils Tower.

160 West Main Street

(605) 584-3110


Black Hills Mining Museum

Three blocks up the hill from the open pit mine, a not-for-profit educational corporation takes visitors deep into the history of Leadユs mining past with several exhibits and activities. You can view many historical items such as machinery that was used to actually mine the gold in the Homestake, and other area mines (gold mining is still happening on a large scale in the Hills). Thereユs an informative tour of a simulated underground gold mine, which is billed as メthe only comprehensive look at both early-day and modern underground mining that can be found in the Black Hillsモ. The realistic exhibit was created in the ヤ80s by actual miners to tell the story of the Western Hemisphereユs deepest gold mine. Thereユs also hands-on gold panning ($10, it takes place in a special indoor tank and is taught by a professional), and all visitors are guaranteed to take home a sample of real placer gold they pan themselves.

323 West Main Street

(605) 584-1605


Historic Homestake Opera House

Billed as メa theater built by a gold mineモ, this magnificent facility was dedicated in 1914 and was the social and cultural heart of the northern Black Hills for the next 70 years. It is still in constant use: on the website, click on Events (in the pull-down menu at upper right) for upcoming shows, plays and concerts. Known as the ヤJewel of the Black Hillsユ for its rich Victorian d残or (it was built just after her reign – she died in 1901), the theater survived a fire in the 1980s and has recently been beautifully restored. The complex originally housed a heated swimming pool, library, the 1,000-seat theater, a billiard hall, bowling alley, social hall, game rooms and a smoking lounge. Thereユs a new interpretive center, and an indoor shooting range in the basement (call 722-2172 for info). Tours of the theater run $10 per person, kids under age 6 are free (2016), and take 30-45 minutes. The building is wheelchair accessible.

313 West Main Street

(605) 584-2067


Black Hills & Ft. Pierre Roundhouse

Learn how the trains traveled the hills in this spectacular, restored 1901 building that now houses a restaurant. This was where an engine would be put on a turntable and turned around to face another direction. The facilityユs Living Map Theatre presents a 35-minute program that illuminates the gold rush of 1876. Coffee shop, gift shop, restaurant, lots of atmosphere.

106 Glendale Drive

(605) 722-1901



Lead Country Club

Established in 1922, Lead Country Club is one of the oldest courses in western South Dakota and is home to some of the first grass greens in the region. At approx. 6200 feet, the ヤMile High Clubユ is a full service 9 hole course. This is a par 36 and plays 3202 yards from the white tees, and 3331 yards from the blue tees. Five of the six par-4s are over 400 yards. The red tees measure 2733 yards and play to a par 37. The club is located 7 miles south of Lead on Hwy 85, just off the Rochford Road. The course winds through tree-lined meadows and the small greens will challenge even the most gifted player. After a round, enjoy a great burger at the clubhouse and full bar.

11208 Ironwood Lane.

(605) 584-1852


Recreational Springs Resort

ATV and snowmobile rental: there are more than 600 miles of trails through the Hills. This resort offers メthe wheels, great food, cold beer, fuel and suppliesモ. Full or half-day rentals, must be 14 or over, have a valid driverユs license, and have a guardian with under 18s. There are 2 and 4 seat ATVs (listed at $225 and $300 in March 2016), and the business had a 4.5 out of 5 Tripadvisor rating. The resort also offers wedding packages.

11201 Hwy 14A

(605) 584-1228


Northern Hills Recreation Association

This is a group that organizes events for families and kids in fields as diverse as gold panning, snowmobiling, snowshoes, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and motocross. 

515 S Main Street

(605) 584-2654


Andyユs Trail Rides – Horseback

Andy has been on horseback since he was old enough to walk, and started leading trail rides at the age of nine. Heユll lead you on real trails up secluded elk paths that wind through wooded mountain terrain. As the horses make their way through stands of trees, over fallen logs and across creeks, they head to the mountain peak where a breathtaking 85-mile view awaits. This is not a typical head-to-tail trail ride. Personable and charming, Andy has been awarded the ヤQuality Community Service Awardユ by the State of South Dakota.

11186 Deer Mt. Rd.

(605) 645-2211


Terry Peak

The downhill ski resorts of Terry Peak and Deer Mountain (349) are both just a short drive southwest of Lead. The summit of Terry Peak is 7,100 feet, and that resort has the highest lift service between the Rockies and the Alps. That means long runs in some of the countryユs most beautiful settings without worrying about thin air and altitude problems.

メA variety of terrain will keep everyone from the novice to the expert interested. A sizable Terrain Park includes a Half Pipe plus a variety of jumps and rail features. Three high-speed detachable quad chairlifts, one fixed grip triple and the snow carpet offer a smooth ride up the slope. All major lifts meet on the top so finding your family or ski party is easy.モ

The Stewart Lodge is the main lodge and offers ski lessons, a learning center, ski rental, a retail store, cafeteria and lounge, plus the Dark Horse Saloon. The skiing and snowboarding season generally runs until the final week of March, or the first week of April. Terry Peak Ski Area is open on Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Yearユs Day, New Yearユs Eve, Martin Luther King Day and Presidentユs Day, from 9am to 4pm. There is an excellent and very informative website that publishes the calendar of events. Two lodges, great restaurants and bars, five lifts and more than two dozen trails covering all skill levels make Terry Peak one of the best vacation experiences in the Black Hills.

2015/16 adult full day rates were $53, 6 to 12 were $39, and over 70s were free.

21120 Stewart Slope Road

(605) 584-2165


Deer Mountain Ski Mystic Resort

Deer Mountain, about two miles southwest of Lead on Highway 85, is home to メthe most powder accumulation in the Black Hillsモ, averaging more than 200 inches annually. The resort is very family friendly, and features a Zero Gravity Tube Park (with inner tubes and a 1,000-foot liftノ thereユs a movie of this on the website). It also offers メthe most diverse ski terrainモ in the Hills, with everything from groomed trails to powder runs, glade runs and un-crowded, wide open slopes. The summit is 6,850 feet, and the mountain offers more than fifty trails. The chairlift is less than 8 minutes, and the Little Fawn learning area offers a tow. The base lodge is very comfortable and welcoming, and Deer Mountain offers both a Ski Caf and a Ski Pub. Instruction is available. Check out the websiteユs photos of the box sled race held in the spring (usually late March). The 2015/16 adult full day rates were $42, 12 and under were $34, and over 70s just $10.

11187 Deer Mountain Road

(605) 580-1169


Black Hills Trails Office

The Mickelson Trail is one of the best family activities in the entire Western US. This former rail-bed has been converted to accommodate a diverse range of outdoor experiences where people can ride (horse or bike), run, walk or ski year-round, depending on weather. Most of the route follows the tracks of a branch line that was constructed by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1890. The trail is named for former South Dakota two-term Governor (1987-1993), who died in a plane crash with seven others in Iowa on April 19, 1993. Incidentally, his Dad was also Governor in the late ヤ40s. Hereユs how the Game, Fish and Parks Department describes it: メImagine a path where the ghosts of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane still roam; where bicyclists, hikers and horseback riders can explore spruce and ponderosa pine forests; and the very young, the very old and people of all abilities can enjoyノ gentle slopes and easy access to the beauty of the Black Hills.モ

The trail is about 109 miles long and contains more than a hundred converted railroad bridges and even four rock tunnels. There are several branch trails, too, including one to Custer State Park. The surface is primarily crushed limestone and gravel, and the trail stops by several towns along the way. Cellphone reception can be sketchy between these communities. At the height of the tourist season – especially during the motorcycle rally in August – book your accommodation ahead of time if you plan on walking the entire trail. There are fifteen trailheads, all of which offer parking, self-sale trail pass stations ($4 a day in 2016, and just $15 for an annual pass), vault toilets, and tables. Most of the trail does not exceed a 4% grade, but a few parts of the trail might be considered strenuous. Dumont is the highest point, and the 19-mile stretch from Deadwood to Dumont is the longest incline. In addition to the official state website listed below, check out the Trail affiliates site, a commercial enterprise that lists a number of support services (from bikes to bunks) that can make planning a trip to the Trail a lot easier: mickelsontrailaffiliates.com

I highly recommend the Mickelson Trail as one of the most intimate, personal ways to fully experience the extraordinary beauty of these Hills.

11361 Nevada Gulch Road

(605) 584-3896


Handley Recreation Center

The Lead recreation center offers a walking track, sauna, cardio equipment, Friday Night skate night, boxing, a weight room, racquetball, a climbing wall and various health/sport classes. Daily passes in 2016 were $2.75 for adults, a dollar for kids/students through college, and just $6 for a family.

845 Miners Avenue

(605) 584-1113


Spearfish Falls

Located closer to the south end of Spearfish Canyon than the north, the Falls are better known to locals than tourists. In the tiny hamlet of Savoy - the postal address is actually Lead – stand in front of the Latchstring Restaurant. To the south (on your right when looking at the front door) go to the end of the parking lot and then follow the chain-link fence along the highway to a gap. This leads down to a bridge over the creek, and if you cross it and follow the trail that winds to your left, it will bring you to the base of the falls. Bring your camera, and a picnic.


Roughlock Falls

In Savoy, a little village in Spearfish Canyon, take the gravel road on the right of the hotel (Spearfish Canyon Lodge) and go about a mile. There is a beautiful park on your left with spots where you can dangle feet in the creek and maybe spot some trout, a dramatic waterfall with easy access, tall canyon cliffs all around, and public restrooms. Itユs a great photo opportunity, especially in fall when the leaves are turning.




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