Mount Rushmore and the Great American Plains

Trip Start Jul 05, 2012
Trip End Aug 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Sleep Inn Sioux Falls
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 22 - Temperatures will be in the upper 80s and low 90s today. We are back into the hotter temps here in SD, but not as hot as it has been. A little over a week ago it was 109 here!

We leave our hotel and go for lunch. We have a routine now it seems. Breakfast at the hotel, checkout around 10 (or 11) depending on how tired we are from the day before and then a restaurant lunch and explore the surrounding area.. Then we take off and drive until dark, eat dinner and check in at the hotel. We have about 4 meals a day, Breakfast, lunch, ice cream or yogurt and dinner. LOL  We eat lunch at Colonial House, a local favorite that has been in business for years. 

Then we head toward Mount Rushmore. It is a pleasant 20 mile drive and we soon get to Mount. Rushmore village. It is very colorful and includes the Black Hills train running through the area with sightseers all waving at us. We pass by a lot of little shops and head up the mountain toward Mount Rushmore.  Before long we are looking at the president's faces staring at us. We pull over at a large turn out and take pictures. We are very close and wonder what else there is to see. We drive on up the mountain and see where you can turn into a parking lot, but you pay $11 to walk a closeup trail and see a museum. If you have a lot of time it is probably worth it. We decide to skip that and drive on around the mountain and from the back side to another turn out where you can see Washington up close. We drive a little further and then turn around, taking pictures of the area and mountain from different angles. It is a beautiful place. We are happy we got to see this national monument.

We start back down the mountain and realize that we have a great view of the towns below as Mount. Rushmore sits high above Rapid City. We drive down to the Mount Rushmore village and decide to stop for a few minutes, but end up shopping a little longer than expected in the gift shops. We have to have souvenirs you know. This village reminds us of Cherokee Indian Village a little.

We then head back to Rapid City to continue on our journey. Our first stop is Cabalas. Again Art checks out the trophy animals and takes some pictures. We are always on the look out for Bass Pro Shops and Cabalas. Gander Mountain is another one we see, but we did not get a chance to stop there. 

We head out of Rapid City and start our drive through the South Dakota grasslands. We start seeing these signs for Wall Drugs, several every mile, for miles. I snap a few pictures of the interesting signs. These signs go on and on and on and we know they are doing their best to get you to stop just to see what Wall Drugs is all about.

We finally get to the Wall Drug exit and get off to see what it looks like We only drive through the parking lot and take pictures, but it is an interesting shopping center it seems. We have gotten more selective about where we stop. There is so much to see everywhere we go and our time often gets away from us. So this time, we keep moving.

One exit later, about 60 miles from Rapid City, we get to the exit to Badlands National Park north entrance. After a short drive we pull up to the gate which sits out in the middle of what looks like a field in the hot sun. We are told that they are paving a huge section of the park and we are given a statement to warn us that the rocks and gravel can damage our car. WELL, Art tells the lady that we are not driving through that! She understands and gives us directions on how to get to one point in the park where we can get a good view of the Badlands. She tells us we could also drive  around to Interior, SD (like the Hells Angels did, she tell us) and come in from the other side of the park and see more of the Badlands. We decide to go to the first view point, but not to drive to Interior because of the amount of time it will take.
I forgot to mention in the previous day's post that we drove through Spearfish, SD on the way to Rapid City. At the campground in Spearfish there is a Hells Angels USA run this week, and so we have seen the motorcylers everywhere we have been for the last couple of days.

We drive up to Pinnacle Point and we are looking down into the Badlands Canyon, not as deep as others we have viewed.It is pretty amazing to see all the mountain formations. Not exactly what you call pretty like in the other parks, but amazing and wild. One local man had told us to go at Sunset because the colors change the whole look of the Badlands. Of course our timing doesn't allow that and so we walk around and take pictures and then head back out the way we came in. So due to the paving, this park doesn't take much time to visit and we move on. Thank goodness for our National Park Pass, which means we paid nothing extra to get into Badlands.

On our way back to the interstate we see rows and rows of interesting log cabins you can rent. We stop to take a look at the cabins and there is a huge gift store with camping supplies, gifts and everything you can imagine. We get a key and take a peek inside of one of the cabins.. They are beautiful inside and have everything a motel room would have. Very nice! There are 20 or 30 cabins there in a row you could rent.

We continue on our way across the grassland, the Great American Plains. We plan to drive as far as we can before dark and that should put us in Sioux Falls. There are lots of symbols of Sioux Indians as we travel.  We are still traveling through the grasslands. In South Dakota the grasslands are not so flat, but have slightly rolling hills.  People tell us that it is a boring drive, We are told that Nebraska grasslands are very flat and even more boring. But we find it very interesting because of all the animals we spot and varied scenery we are not used to seeing. I would not hesitate to drive back across South Dakota again. But it is a long haul across those grasslands!

We get to our hotel in Sioux Falls right after dark and check in for the night.


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