Pack your bags. An adventure awaits you and your family in Rapid City, South Dakota! My family and I decided pack up and take a road trip from our Northern Kentucky home to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Our children; Andy and Marshall, had not yet ventured out west for a vacation but were becoming increasingly interested in sites they were learning about in school. Even though it was a long drive, the roadside stops make it worth the time! In South Dakota, there are many historical and natural sights that’s are a must see when you visit!
We visited the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.At the Corn Palace, college art students create themed works of art every year out of multiple of varieties corn! By the end of the summer the birds will have picked the murals clean and new corn art is eventually put in its place! Within the palace, local Crafters and vendors set up their wares for sale to the public!Close to the Missouri River, the highway has a roadside rest area. Make sure you stop here! There is a great overlook to see the rolling hills and winding river. There is also a very big beautiful statue of native American woman holding out a quilted blanket. It is in commemoration of Sacagawea when she lead the Lewis and Clark expedition at the age of 16 years old! Once we passed the Missouri River we drove between fields upon fields galore of sunflowers (this was in September) and saw antelope and mule deer running free in the open prairie on either side of the highway. Another roadside attraction is Wall Drug Store, located at Wall, SD.This isn’t any ordinary drug store. It’s BIG! Complete with a restaurant and a variety of shops to get souvenirs for the whole family. Head out back and let the kids run off some steam in the courtyard. They can even get their photo taken atop of a jackelopes back!
Not far from the town of Wall, you have the Badlands National Park!This park… Like every other national park in the country, is worth the time to visit. Out of nowhere the topography changes giving way to a moon-like landscape! Upon entering the park we immediately see wild bighorn sheep grazing and roaming along the road and Rocky lands.There was also Mule deer, coyote, antelope, prairie dogs, rattlesnakes and more to observe at a safe distance in their natural habitats.
The landscape is totally surreal and it is easy to suspect the likeness comparable to what you might imagine the moon’s appearance would be.As soon as we inched close to Rapid City’s city limits, we drove over to see Mt. Rushmore. This historical site is tucked away in the Black hills. It has an amazing museum that is chalked full of history of the creation of the monument. If you visit Custer State Park nearby, you can see the living descendents of the burro’s that were used during the sculpt!Our lodging was downtown in Rapid City at Grand Gateway Hotel. This hotel offered all the comforts of home at a reasonable price! The kids especially loved the pool. It has a family restaurant onsite and was conveniently located close to many stores and restaurants in the area. It is a simple drive to and from everywhere you’d like to go.
We made a visit as well to the Custer State Park. Here we got to drive along a one way road and see a multitude of wildlife along the way! To read more about my recent blog about this neat park, CLICK HERE!
Before ending our family trip, we took a 1880 Train ride to Keystone, SD and back. The scenery was amazing and the guide narrating the history of the train and local lands we passed through was very knowledgeable. It was a wonderful ride back in time!I hope you plan a visit to South Dakota soon! It is probably one of the most memorable and favorite vacations our family has been on! We look forward to going back soon!