South Dakota Vacation Ideas

The Black Hills of South Dakota- Vacation Destination

The Black Hills of South Dakota are best known for Mount Rushmore National Park, but there is so much more to see and do there.  Come along on my four day adventure and see the highlights with me.  The main purpose of this trip was to introduce my four year old grand daughter to the four presidents in the rock.  She had been asking about Mount Rushmore ever since I picked up a sweater there a few years ago and it was time to let her experience exactly what the rest of us loved about the Midwest.

Buffalo and calf crossing road

Buffalo and calf crossing road

Buffalo Traffic Jam Custer State Park

Buffalo Traffic Jam Custer State Park

Our first stop was at Custer State Park, located about twenty five miles south of Rapid City.  The Wildlife Loop, the home of the largest buffalo herd in the world, is a must see for every visitor to the park.  Allow plenty of time for traffic jams and unscheduled stops, you’ll be glad you did.  When it was finally time for us to weave our way through the herd, we prayed this buffalo wouldn’t ram and scratch at us like hedid to another red car that came from the other direction a few minutes earlier.

On this day beautiful day in South Dakota, the herd was just south of the small visitor center.  It does move freely through the park.   Once we passed this large herd, we enjoyed walking out to a prairie dog town.  There, we listened to all the squeaking and squawking as they warned each other to return to their tunnels.  We were able to still get a good look. We also walked the rolling hills to see the wild donkeys.  There used to carry the packs for hikers but now roam freely in the hills.

Custer State Park is also known for the Needles Rock Formations.  These unique spires are around every corner.  This pleasant ride can be enjoyed by everyone from the motor coach tour group to the bicyclist.  We took advantage of the many pull offs to climb and explore and enjoy a

Eye of the Needle

Eye of the Needle

Two car tunnel at the Needles

Two car tunnel at the Needles

picnic lunch.  Some of the rock cut outs for roads look much too small for a car to pass through, but they do fit.  We saw several hikers and rock climbers from the comfort of our own vehicle as well as from the pulloffs.

Allow a full day at Custer State Park if time permits.  It is also possible to breeze through in less than 3 hours if traffic isn’t too heavy.  When we finished in the park, it was an easy ride to the Rapid City Airport or Keystone.  There we could walk through the town’s shops and restaurants or visit Mount Rushmore National Park.

Mount Rushmore has grown continuously since 1925 when the project started.  There is now a parking lot that will accommodate every size vehicle including RVs and campers. The restaurant and ice cream shop both have abundant portions and plenty to choose from at reasonable prices.  The gift shop could keep some shoppers happy for a half day and the main attraction has seating for hundreds of people to enjoy the nightly tribute and light show as well as daytime presentations.  A Presidential Trail now takes guests closer to the presidents faces, with descriptive trail markings and well maintained boardwalks.  The walk can be strenuous and involves a lot of stairs at some points but there are still plenty of areas that are wheelchair friendly.  Be sure to stop at the Native American Village and the Visitor Center.

Entrance To Mount Rushmore

Entrance To Mount Rushmore

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