When placer gold was discovered in a creek that ran through a gulch full of dead trees in 1876, prospectors flocked to the area and a boom town sprang up practically overnight. Deadwood started out as a lawless town full of rough-and-tumble characters but the rowdiness settled down once Seth Bullock was appointed sheriff, and it became a civilized community. Deadwood has faced many challenges over the years, but today it’s a popular destination for tourists interested in gambling, history, and outdoor adventure. Its rich heritage is kept alive through historical reenactments, guided tours, and a variety of attractions and signature events.
With such a storied past, Deadwood’s history is legendary. The Adams Museum, founded in 1930 by a local businessman named W.E. Adams, has an extensive collection of artifacts dating back to the Black Hills Gold Rush. Visitors will find memorabilia associated with many of the town’s most notorious figures, including Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock. Exhibits include Potato Creek Johnny’s 7.346 troy ounce gold nugget, the Thoen Stone, a rare plesiosaur skeleton, and authentic Lakota bead and quill work. The Days of ’76 Museum houses artifacts from Deadwood’s earliest pioneers and American Indians. It features an impressive collection of historic horse-drawn wagons and stagecoaches; panoramic photographs of the local western landscape; clothing; firearms; photos; archives and more. The Historic Adams House, built in 1892, is a Queen Anne-style home that served as an elegant gathering place for business leaders and influential citizens of Deadwood. Guests can tour the home and marvel over the antique furnishings, tastefully appointed decor, and cozy parlor. Tatanka: Story of the Bison is a Native American Interpretive Center and authentic Lakota encampment with a larger than life bronze sculpture featuring 14 bison being pursued by Native American riders. Lakota interpreters give onsite presentations, and visitors can see movie costumes from “Dances With Wolves” and pick up a memento in the gift shop.
The Broken Boot Gold Mine, established in 1878, allows visitors to experience firsthand the techniques Deadwood prospectors used in their search for gold. Guided tours provide interesting historical tidbits, and guests can even try their luck panning for gold of their own. Deadwood Stagecoach offers 20-minute roundtrip rides along Main Street in a replica stagecoach. Guests will learn facts about the town’s history and other important information. Mount Moriah Cemetery is situated on a bluff overlooking Deadwood Gulch and serves as the final resting place for many of Deadwood’s most notorious citizens. Visitors will find the grave sites of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Potato Creek Johnny, Seth Bullock, and legends of the Old West. Self-guided tours and an interpretive video are available. The Trial of Jack McCall is a long-running play based on the notorious gunman’s actual trial following his murder of Wild Bill Hickok in 1876. Attendees may be chosen to serve as trial jurors during the performance. The Mt. Roosevelt Memorial/Friendship Tower is the location of the monument created by Seth Bullock in honor of his friendship with Theodore Roosevelt. The hike to the top is short (less than one mile) and offers spectacular views of the surrounding Black Hills. Old Style Saloon No. 10 is a bar and living history museum filled with historic memorabilia from Deadwood’s past, including the chair in which Wild Bill was seated when shot while playing poker. Food and beverages, gaming, and live entertainment are available. Outlaw Square is the newest addition to Deadwood’s historic Main Street; this outdoor pavilion hosts a variety of community events, including movies, concerts, history presentations, craft fairs, and ice skating. Opening in August 2020, The Brothel: Deadwood will pay tribute to one of the seedier aspects of the town’s past with guided tours of brothel rooms decorated with period furnishings, clothing, and other memorabilia.
There is always something exciting taking place in Deadwood! The city hosts many popular events throughout the year, starting with a ball drop from the Historic Franklin Hotel at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The Deadwood Snocross, which bills itself as “the greatest show on snow,” attracts more than 150 professional Snocross competitors from around the world to the Days of ’76 Rodeo Grounds for two days of snowmobile racing.
If holidays are your thing, annual celebrations are held during Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, Chinese New Year, and Independence Day. Attendees can expect parades, costumes, entertainment, food, and beverages. Oktoberfest adds an Old West spin to the popular German holiday with live music, dancing, authentic German cuisine, beer barrel games, and wiener dog races. Every Halloween, Deadweird attracts costumed visitors to town for two celebratory days of fun and frivolity. The Monster Ball entertains guests with live music and dancing, and a costume contest provides $10,000 in cash and prizes for the best costumes in a variety of categories.
Wild Bill Days is one of Deadwood’s signature events. This annual celebration of the infamous gunslinger takes place over two days in June and features free concert performances, the National DockDogs competition, a classic car auction, gold panning and sluicing demonstrations, a Motorcycle Classic Poker Run, historical presentations, and more. Days of ’76 is widely regarded as one of the country’s premier outdoor rodeo events, and has been named the PRCA Rodeo of the Year an impressive 18 times. Held in July, the event features a variety of popular rodeo competitions, such as steer roping and barrel racing, as well as a historic parade. Aficionados of trikes—three-wheeled motorcycles—celebrate their passion five days every July during the Deadwood Three Wheeler Rally. Attendees from around the country bring their vehicles to the Black Hills for destination rides, a trike show ‘n shine, fun run, food, entertainment, and a night trike parade. Those who prefer four wheels flock to Kool Deadwood Nites for a celebration of classic hot rods. This popular event, held over four days every August, features a parade, sock hop, free concerts, and—of course—a car show and shine. Deadwood welcomes riders during the popular Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with the annual Legends Ride, a self-guided, scenic 50-mile ride that begins on Main Street and ends at the Buffalo Chip campground in Sturgis. It was created to raise money for area charities.
The Deadwood Jam is an annual two-day outdoor music festival featuring live concerts from a variety of regional and national acts playing rock ‘n roll, reggae, and blues. Music lovers can enjoy music, and the stories behind the songs, at the Wild West Songwriter’s Festival, which attracts local and national talent for three days in October. Free informal performances known as “writer’s rounds” take place during the day, with ticketed concerts in the evening. Forks, Corks & Kegs is one of the region’s largest food and wine festivals. It’s an opportunity for foodies to sample a variety of local and national beers and wine and enjoy tasty bites from some of the region’s top chefs. The event is typically held in April. Those who enjoy craft beers will find themselves in nirvana during Deadwood’s Craft Beer Festival: Hops & Hogs. Ticket holders enjoy a variety of delicious craft beers paired with unique bacon dishes. The festival is usually held in May.
Note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, certain events may be postponed or canceled, and attractions may not be open as regularly scheduled. We encourage you to check with each venue before planning your visit.