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Quality of Life in the Rushmore Region

Where else, but in the Rushmore Region of South Dakota, can you combine the nation’s best business climate with unmatched beauty and recreation?
South Dakota consistently receives high marks for fiscal strength and a pro-business attitude, which includes no income tax, no personal property tax, no business inventory tax, and no inheritance tax. A low cost of living index coupled with a low crime rate makes South Dakota a highly livable state.
While people in more metropolitan areas can spend hours of drive time, the region’s average commute is 18 minutes. What that means is more time for cultural activities, fishing, hiking, relaxing with family, or doing whatever it is that makes you happiest.
Read more about the excellent quality of life in the Rushmore Region of Western South Dakota, including:

Location & Climate

The Rushmore Region is known as the “Banana Belt,” because on many winter days the Black Hills bask in sun and warmth. Location and geology combine to protect the region from many of the winter weather systems originating in Canada and the Northwest. Warm air from down sloping Chinook winds can create surprisingly warm winter days.
The Rushmore Region of South Dakota can best be described as high, dry, and moderate. The region has less snow than Denver, warmer winters than Minneapolis, and more sunshine days than Miami.
Elevations in the Rushmore Region range from 3,022’ above sea level in Belle Fourche to 5,318’ above sea level in Custer. Black Elk Peak in Custer State Park is 7,244’ above sea level, the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains.

Rapid City

January July Annual
Average Temperature (degrees F)
22.3 72.2 46.6
Precipitation (inches)
0.4 2 16.6
Snowfall (inches)
5.3 - 39.8
Average Relative Humidity %
58 61.5 68.5
Average Wind Speed (mph)
10.7 10.1 11.2

Cost of Living

The Rushmore Region is a more affordable option than larger metro areas such as Denver and Minneapolis, and much more stable than oil boomtowns to the north. The region offers the amenities of larger cities but at a much more palatable cost.

Use the Real Wage Calculator to find out, after taxes, how much of your income you take home, and how much can you buy with your hard-earned wages.  real wage calculator     The bottom line is…location matters, and we can prove it.


Housing Market: Stable & Strong

Finding the right place to live in the Rushmore Region is easy and flexible.
You can live in a log home among the Ponderosa pine trees in the Black Hills, a ranch-style home – with a real horse ranch – on the high plains, or a residential neighborhood close to services. Whatever you choose, your commute time will be relatively short.

The Rushmore Region housing market is stable yet strong. According to, the 2019 average selling price for single-family homes in the six-county area was $245,275. The housing market is driven by the Rushmore Region’s scenic beauty, low taxes, stable prices, economic diversity, and access to retail, healthcare, and other professional services. And when you are ready for retirement? South Dakota ranks #4 on Bankrate’s 2019 Best States to Retire list.


Quality Healthcare

The Rushmore Region is known throughout the Black Hills and surrounding states for its quality healthcare services, advanced medical and surgical specialties, and updated imaging and diagnostic technology.

Monument Health

Monument Health is a tax-exempt, community-based organization committed to serving and strengthening health care for people living in the Black Hills and surrounding region, as well as hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. As a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Monument Health shares Mayo Clinic’s patient-centered culture and commitment to improving the delivery of health care. Monument Health is comprised of more than 40 health care facilities, and with over 5,000 employees, it is the region’s largest employer. Its flagship medical center is Monument Health Rapid City Hospital, offering a broad scope of services. Other community hospital locations include Custer, Lead-Deadwood, Spearfish, and Sturgis. – Visit Site

Black Hills Surgical Hospital

A physician-owned surgical hospital, Black Hills Surgical Hospital in Rapid City offers a wide range of surgical procedures with 11 operating rooms, private step-down areas, 26 private recovery suites, a state-of-the-art imaging center and pain clinic, and nearly 400 employees. – Visit Site

Black Hills Regional Eye Institute

For over 35 years, this Rapid City-based institute has been offering world-class eye care in the five-state region, with nine satellite clinics and the most modern and complex eye facility in Rapid City. The Black Hills Regional Eye Institute provides care such as eye exams, glaucoma treatment, cataract surgery, retina and cornea, pediatric care and strabismus, oculoplastic, and sophisticated refractive surgery techniques. – Visit Site

VA Black Hills Health Care System

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs maintains the VA Black Hills Health Care System, which provides primary and secondary medical and surgical care, residential rehabilitation treatment program services, extended nursing home care, and tertiary psychiatric inpatient services for veterans in South Dakota, portions of Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.

Care is delivered primarily through the Fort Meade and Hot Springs VA Medical Centers, as well as through a number of community-based outpatient and rural outreach clinics. – Visit Site

Arts & Culture

The Arts Are Everywhere in the Rushmore Region

The Rushmore Region, home to two world-famous sculptures – Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial – has nurtured its reputation as a Mecca for visual and performing arts. Here is a sample:
  • Black Hills Playhouse is a 350-seat professional summer stock theater in the heart of Custer Sate Park. The playhouse is affiliated with the University of South Dakota Theater Department. – Visit Site
  • The Matthews Opera House in Spearfish stages a variety of music and theater events year-round. The first-floor gallery is a showcase for visual artists. – Visit Site
  • Homestake Opera House was built in 1914 as a gift from Phoebe Hearst, wife of mining magnate George Hearst, as a gift to Lead’s miners. The Homestake remains a lively entertainment centerpiece in downtown Lead. – Visit Site
  • Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City hosts everything from highschool basketball tournaments and rodeos to the Black Hills Symphony, nationally known performers and Broadway musicals. – Visit Site
  • City of Presidents features life-size bronze statues of all former U.S. presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, and is located in downtown Rapid City. – Visit Site
  • Art Alley, a one-block stretch of alley in downtown Rapid City, has become a colorful and creative outlet for the region’s graffiti artists. It’s a moveable visual feast that changes every time you visit. – Visit Site
  • The Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City gives voice to a variety of creative endeavors. – Visit Site
  • Wall Drug’s Western art collection is world-renowned. The walls are filled with paintings by some of the West’s most significant artists. – Visit Site

Recreation & Outdoors

The Rushmore Region is A Million-Acre Playground

Not only is the Rushmore Region a great place to work, it is a great place to play. A veritable million-acre playground, the Black Hills stand on the Great Plains as an emerald oasis in a vast sea of surrounding prairie. Its wonders include world-class trout fishing, world-class rock climbing, thousands of miles of hiking, biking, and snowmobile trails, five national parks, monuments, and memorials (the highest concentration of parks, monuments and memorials in America), and a myriad of big-game hunting opportunities. – Visit Site

Here are a few highlights:
  • Hiking and Biking – The 110-mile Mickelson Trail, a rails-to-trails project, runs from Deadwood to Edgemont. It offers some of the best bicycling in the United States. For backpackers, the Centennial Trail will take you to some of the most isolated backcountry spots in the Black Hills. Many cities have their own trail systems, including Rapid City’s Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park, Spearfish’s Lookout Mountain, and Sturgis’s Deadman Trail System.
  • Fishing – Rapid Creek and Spearfish Creek sustain naturally reproducing trout habitats. Smaller streams offer good fishing as well. Sheridan Lake, Pactola Lake, Deerfield Lake, Angostura Reservoir, and Belle Fourche Reservoir yield a variety of fishing opportunities aboard boats and on the shore.
  • Boating – Angostura Reservoir, at 4,400 acres, and Belle Fourche Reservoir, with 8,000 acres, are the largest and most popular areas for boating. Kayakers and canoeists have more choices, ranging from the bays of Pactola Reservoir and Sheridan Lake to the many pristine lakes inside Custer State Park.
  • Skiing – The Rushmore Region has two downhill ski areas: Mystic Miner Mountain Resort has 44 runs and a 700-foot drop; Terry Peak Ski Area has 30 trails and a 1,000-foot drop. Cross-country ski areas include Eagle Cliff, Big Hill, Beaver Creek, and Bear Mountain. Snowshoeing is popular throughout the Black Hills.
  • Camping – Black Hills National Forest has 30 campgrounds, and Custer State Park has 13. In addition, there are scores of private campgrounds and RV parks scattered throughout the region. The variety ranges from full-service RV resorts to natural wilderness sites.