Nestled on the eastern slope of South Dakota's Black Hills, Rapid City is the gateway to some of America's scenic treasures--Mount Rushmore, Devil's Tower and the Badlands--and the city itself is split by the Dakota Hogback. Although relatively small in size (population 64,000), Rapid City's popularity with tourists has led to the development of an arts community rivaling that of much larger cities. The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally draws thousands of Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts to Rapid City every summer.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Rapid City has a very diverse economy. The city's roots are in agriculture, mining and logging, all of which remain central to its economy today. However, over time, manufacturing has become an increasingly important source of revenue, with the city's central location making it an important transportation hub, particularly for trucking.
A high percentage of Rapid City's workforce is also employed in government services, with Ellsworth Air Force Base being a major employer.
Additionally, in recent years, tourism has developed into a major part of Rapid City's economy, due to the popularity of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the proximity of Mount Rushmore and other national parks which bring thousands of tourists to the city every summer.
Some of the most common industries for the residents of Rapid City include education, health and social services, retail trade, recreation, and accommodation and food services. Some of the major employers include Rapid City Regional Hospital, Black Hills Corporation and Sanmina-Sci Corp.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Downtown Rapid City's shopping district preserves a strip of late 19th and early 20th century buildings, with an eclectic mix of shopping and dining. In a nod to Mount Rushmore, life-sized statues of US presidents are positioned around downtown. The Dahl Art Center downtown shows art and hosts events. To the west of downtown, the West Boulevard Historic District has some fine examples of old homes. The Rushmore Mall on the north side of town is a center for department-store shopping.
- The Journey Museum: The Journey Museum is a natural history museum serving the Rapid City community. It houses diverse collections, from Sioux Indian artifacts to paleontological displays. The museum also offers classes and educational outreach programs.
- School of Mines Geological Museum: The geological museum at Rapid City's School of Mines houses unique specimens. Visitors can stroll through exhibits showcasing minerals from the Black Hills and throughout the world, meteorites, and fossils.
- WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort: The WaTiki Indoor Waterpark is open year-round, offering 30,000 square feet of water activities, an arcade, concessions, slides, a spa, and a play area for younger children.
- Storybook Island Theater: Story Island Theater is a free attraction where children can interact with favorite storybook characters.
- Kiwanis-Mary Hall Park: Kiwanis-Mary Hall Park is home to more than 100 different species of trees, shrubs, and grasses. It offers children hands-on learning about nature and the local environment.
- Dinosaur Park: Rapid City's Dinosaur Park is famous for the massive dinosaur statues that make it one of the most-visited sites in the city. Visitors can hike through the park, taking in the seven concrete statues along the way.
- Black Hills Maze: The Black Hills Maze is a wooden bi-level maze that, at over 39,000 square feet, is the largest in the Midwest. Visitors can also enjoy batting cages and bankshot basketball.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- The Black Hills Symphony Orchestra: The Black Hills Symphony Orchestra offers a number of classical and other performances each year. The group is based at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Theatre.
- Black Hills Playhouse: The Black Hills Playhouse has a 60-plus year history of providing entertainment to the Rapid City community. The theater offers a season of Broadway-quality events each year.
- Black Hills Heritage Festival: Held each July at the Rapid City Civic Center, the Black Hills Heritage Festival is a four-day event celebrating the heritage of the Black Hills region. The festival offers several stages of live entertainment, a children's tent, concessions, exhibits from local and visiting artisans, and a fireworks display.
- Festival of Presidents: The Rapid City Festival of Presidents is held each year in June. This two-day event takes place in downtown Rapid City and features a parade, concerts, and a store-decorating contest. The festival celebrates the "City of Presidents" project, aimed at creating statues of all American Presidents in the city's downtown.
- Black Hills Fat Tire Festival: The annual Black Hills Fat Tire Festival brings together bicyclists from all over the area to enjoy races and rides through the area's many trails. The event includes a barbeque, live music, a film festival, a bike swap, and a geocaching treasure hunt.
- Festival of Lights Parade: Each year during the holidays, downtown Rapid City hosts the Festival of Lights Parade. The event includes traditional parade floats, music, and food.
- Hills Alive Festival: Rapid City is home each year to the Hills Alive Festival, a free, two-day Christian festival featuring top Christian music artists.
- Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: Held in August, the rally brings thousands of Harley-Davidson riders to Rapid City for races, parades, motorcycle shows and hard partying.
Rapid City is served by The Rapid City Journal, a daily newspaper with a circulation of roughly 30,000.
Radio stations in Rapid City include:
- KBHE 89.3-FM
- KQRQ 92.3-FM
- KKMK 93.9-FM
- KLMP 97.9-FM
- KOUT 98.7-FM
- FFXS 100.3-FM
- KIQK 104.1-FM
- KZLK 106.3-FM
- KKLS 920-AM
- KIMM 1150-AM
- KTOQ 1340-AM
All of the major television networks broadcast from Rapid City. Local stations include:
- KOTA (ABC)
- KELO (CBS)
- KEVN (FOX)
- KNBN (NBC)
- KBHE (PBS)
Rapid City is home to a branch of the National American University as well as the Western Dakota Technical Institute. The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is also located in the city.
Rapid City is home to the Rapid City Rush, a minor league hockey team housed in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.