Exploring South Dakota's Black Hills in a Yamaha Wolverine + Video

Lucas Cooney
by Lucas Cooney
We hook up with a Destination Yamaha partner for a new off-road adventure

Looking after ATV.com has brought me to all sorts of interesting off-road destinations, but South Dakota was one state still on my bucket list. That all changed when I had the opportunity to check out the Black Hills in a Yamaha Wolverine X2 with a Destination Yamaha partner – Mystic Trails Rentals. This rental spot is part of a pretty fantastic campground called Mystic Hills Hideaway. More on this in a moment.

What is Destination Yamaha?

For the uninitiated, Destination Yamaha is a collection of partner outfitters that offer Yamaha rentals – some with the option of guided tours. As of the writing of this article, there are 39 Destination Yamaha partners in the United States. Don’t be surprised to see that number grow, as there are some areas in the country very much underrepresented. You can find all of the locations here.

Black Hills UTV Adventure

We flew into to Rapid City, which is about an hour’s drive from Mystic Hills Hideaway. This location offers up cabins and RV campsites. I was lucky enough to be handed the keys to a well appointed cabin, which had room for six people to sleep and came with a kitchen, large bathroom and a grill outside the door.

Mystic Hills Hideaway

Mystic Trails Rentals offers Yamaha Wolverine X2, Wolverine X4 and Kodiak 450 models (more than 30 vehicles in total!). Our group grabbed three Wolverine X2 models and each is available with a Yamaha Adventure Pro Powered by Magellan GPS system.

With evening not too far away, a quick trip to was planned before dinner to the Custer Peak Lookout. We cut through the threes of the Black Hills, passed by some grazing cows, and started the climb. Mystic Hills itself is comfortably more than 5,000 feet in elevation, but Custer Peak sits closer to 7,000 feet. Ears were popping as we slowly carved our way up the mountain.

Yamaha Wolverine Black Hills

The Custer Peak Lookout was designed as a fire lookout. There is a small, two-story building at the very top and once you get there you are greeted with a spectacular and unobstructed view for miles in every direction. Just that view alone of the Black Hills National Forest made the trip worthwhile.

Custer Peak View

After enjoying the view for a half hour or so, we drove back down the mountain towards Mystic Hills Hideaway and grabbed dinner and some adult beverages in the restaurant before calling it a night.

Day 2

With a whole day of riding ahead of us, Mike, the owner/operator of Mystic Hills Hideaway and one of his guides decided to join us. Guided tours are a great option for those who aren’t comfortable exploring the trails alone, but since a Yamaha Adventure Pro GPS is available with every rental, it’s not a necessity. Still, having people with you who know the area means you won’t miss out anything.

Yamaha Adventure Pro

While Custer Peak remained the visual highlight of the entire trip, our full day of exploring the Black Hills was filled with great times.

Our guide showed us a couple of small waterfalls that we absolutely would have missed without him. We put more than 80 miles on our Yamaha Wolverine X2 rental and took in every possible inch of the landscape that we could.

Waterfall Shower

A trailside bagged lunch led to good conversation, we found some wild raspberries and had a quick snack, saw a handful of deer, and generally had a brilliant time exploring the area and having fun ripping around in the Wolverine X2.

Yamaha Wolverine X2 Beauty

The entire experience is the reason that Destination Yamaha, and ATV/UTV rentals in general, are such a good idea. If you’ve never been on an ATV or driven a UTV, a rental makes a lot of sense as it gives you sort of a taste test. Basically, you can try before you buy.

Black Hills View UTV

But it’s more than that. If you want to explore the country and don’t want to have to haul your off-road vehicle with you, there’s probably a Destination Yamaha partner operator not too far away from where you are going. It makes for a much easier and less stressful road trip and it’s not terribly expensive.

More Than Off-Roading
Mount Rushmore

The following day, we all piled into our rental cars and went exploring other areas of South Dakota – all within a short drive of Mystic Hills Hideaway. We checked out the historic town of Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and enjoyed a very cool drive on the Needles Highway, where we saw even more deer and even a mountain goat that was putting on a show for passing motorists.

Mountain Goat

And that’s another selling point of the Destination Yamaha experience. While you might be excited to drive off-road, that might not be your family’s first priority. So why not rent a Wolverine X2 or X4 for one day, then go check out the nearby attractions the next day? It would make for an incredible family getaway and there are 39 different places to choose from spread out across the country.

Needles Highway
Bottom Line

My first trip to South Dakota was one I won’t soon forget. Awesome off-road riding, spectacular views, and an experience I’d very much like to share with my family. There’s a pretty good chance I’ll be looking at the Destination Yamaha map to see where I’d like to go next.

Lucas Cooney
Lucas Cooney

I have been working exclusively in digital media since 1997. I started out with TSN.ca, spending nearly nine years creating and editing content on Canada's leading sports website. I left to join VerticalScope, Inc., one of the world's largest online publishers, to start a number of powersports publications. While at VerticalScope, I've helped create and oversee content for a wide variety of different publications, including ATV.com, Off-Road.com, ArcheryTalk.com, Tractor.com, RVGuide.com, and many more.

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