Montana, You Can Visit This Church That’s a Vikings Era Reproduction
The Black Hills of South Dakota is one of our favorite getaways for a long weekend away from Billings. Rapid City is only about 4.5 hours away, so it's a great place to head out on a Friday afternoon. In fact, I've kind of been getting that Deadwood itch lately. Low-limit blackjack, all-you-can-eat crab legs, and a weekend of general debauchery are calling my name.
After all that sinning at the casinos, check out this awesome church.
Sometimes we bring the kids to Rapid City/Deadwood, and sometimes we don't. There are so many fun family things to do in the surrounding area that it's tough to get them all into one weekend.
A few years ago we stopped at the Chapel in the Hills.
YouTube channel Kool Buildings has a great video of the property that shares some of the stories behind the unique structure, which is nestled into the foothills at the end of a subdivision on the outskirts of Rapid City. Check it out below.
Chapel in the Hills opens for the season on May 1, 2023.
Built in 1969, the Lutheran church is an exact replica of the famous Borgund stavkirke, of Laerdal, Norway. Stavkirke means "stave church" in Norweigan.
The original church was built over 850 years ago.
The church in Rapid City is only fifty years old, but the actual church in Norway that it replicates was built around 1150! The Church in the Hills was built using blueprints provided by the Norwegian Department of Antiquities, utilizing local South Dakota builders and craftsmen along with an expert woodcarver from Norway named Erik Fridstrom.
Spend an hour or two wandering the grounds.
Even if you're not the religious type, the building and grounds are worth a visit. I found the setting extremely peaceful, and I marveled at some of the interesting design touches on the building.
Some say the interior resembles an upside-down Viking ship.
Take a break from the casino, waterparks, go-cart tracks, and other tourist traps.
Half-hour worship services are held at the church every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday evening from Memorial Day to Labor Day. They are free, as is admission to the grounds. Visitors are encouraged to "wander the chapel grounds, taking their time as they experience the presence of God in this beautiful natural setting." Donations are accepted.
A small museum explains more about its history.
There is a gift shop, museum, meditation trail, and other interesting sights at the Chapel in the Hills, and the church can be rented for weddings or other special events. Put it on your list of things to see and do next time you scoot down to the Black Hills. I think you'll enjoy it.