Moving to Rapid City, SD

Rapid City, South Dakota, is the state’s second largest city and the seat of government for Pennington County. The city is located at the edge of the Black Hills and is well known for its proximity to Mount Rushmore, a national memorial that annually attracts more than two million visitors to the area. The population of Rapid City is approximately 74,000 (2015 census estimate).

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Rapid City History

Rapid City is an English translation of a Lakota expression for “swift water city.” With the discovery of gold in the Black Hills during the 1870s, the area became a magnet for settlers. But its big claim to fame began to take shape in the 1920s when sculptor Gutzon Borglum began work on a large scale monument carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore.

Rapid City Weather

Rapid City’s climate measures well on the comfort index, with relatively drier air during the warmer months. There is also less precipitation—about half the national average. The average high temperature in July is 86°F and the average low temperature in January is 12°F. Rapid City can expect about 37 inches of snowfall in a typical year. Here’s an interesting fact: Rapid City holds U.S. records for the fastest temperature rise (49 degrees Fahrenheit in two minutes) and the fastest temperature drop (47 degrees Fahrenheit in five minutes). 

Rapid City Transportation

Rapid City offers several public options for transportation around the area via their Rapid Transit System (RTS), including Rapid Ride (buses) and Dial-A-Ride (for riders with disabilities), as well as City View Trolley. An airport express shuttle provides ground transportation to and from Rapid City Regional Airport. The primary highways serving the Rapid City area are I-90 and US 14 (east-west) and I-190 and US 16 (north-south). The average commute to work is 15 minutes.

Cost of Living in Rapid City

Sperling’s Best Places estimates the cost of living in Rapid City is about the same as the national average. You’ll pay a little more for food, but you’ll save on housing, utilities, and transportation. Your applicable taxes will be about 33 percent below national averages. How far are your earnings likely to go in Rapid City? Use the links below to find out.

Rapid City Schools

The Rapid City Area Schools is a public system with four high schools, 15 elementary schools, and five middle schools.  Rapid City also has eight private schools with these affiliations: Montessori, Baptist, Catholic, non-denominational Christian, Lutheran, and Seventh-day Adventist. Rapid City is home to South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Western Dakota Tech, and an extension campus of Black Hills State University.  

Rapid City Hospitals

There are four hospitals in Rapid City and another four within a 30-mile radius. The largest is Rapid City Regional Hospital with 372 beds, part of a community-based system with five hospital and 40 health care facilities in the Black Hills region. The VA Black Hills Health Care System in Fort Meade is about 25 miles away. 

Rapid City Real Estate

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Rapid City has 30,947 housing units with an owner-occupied rate of 59.9 percent. Sperling’s Best Places reports housing costs around seven percent below the national average; the median value of owner-occupied housing units is $159,900, and owners with a mortgage pay median monthly costs of $1,284. Median gross rent in this market is $771.  

Rapid City Hotels

Rapid City caters to tourists drawn to Mount Rushmore. There are plenty of excellent lodging options, from familiar names like Holiday Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Comfort Inn & Suites, Days Inn and Best Western. There are several local hoteliers, including The Foothills Inn, GrandStay Residential Suites, and President’s View Mt. Rushmore. For a memorable stay in a picturesque location amid the Black Hills, head west about 30 miles on U.S. Highway 16 to the High Country Guest Ranch.

Rapid City Restaurants

Rapid City caters to your taste buds with a variety of American and ethnic choices. The Millstone Family Restaurant is recognized for their extensive breakfast menu, fresh soup and salad bar, and hearty sandwiches. If you’re up for Indian, Nepalese, or Tibetan dishes, the Kathmandu Bistro curries favor with hungry dinner patrons from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For a Dakota Buffalo Burger (or for a certified Angus beef burger), visit Minerva’s located in the Best Western Ramotka Hotel.  

Things to Do in Rapid City

What’s to do in Rapid City? Plenty. A visit to Mount Rushmore really rocks. So does a drive-through of Bear Country USA where you can spot black bears, grizzlies, wolves and elk from the comfort and safety of your vehicle. While you’re in the mood to drive, cruise to Custer State Park to the south and marvel at the Needles Highway—a thrilling scenic byway. If you have youngsters, they may enjoy a trip to Storybook Island, a children’s park open during the summer on the Rapid City Historic Tour.