We had a very packed week in South Dakota. One of the best things about being in the Mountain Time Zone while sticking to the Eastern Time Zone work hours is that we get plenty of time in the afternoon to enjoy the area. There's a lot to do here and within a couple of hours of Rapid City is SO much history.
Custer State Park
We drove through Custer State Park a couple of different times and each time was different. We were able to come face-to-face with bison and a few other animals and it was incredible. These are gentle creatures, but don't get in between them and their kids, or things go south real quick. They play fight with each other and you get an idea of how powerful they are and it's impressive.
The Needles Highway in Custer is spectacular. The truck BARELY fit through the Needles Eye Tunnel, and I had to get out and get a picture of how close it was. People were behind us cheering us on and watching us get the dually through there, it was really funny!
Near Custer is Mount Rushmore. This was nothing short of iconic and majestic all at the same time. We stayed for the illumination ceremony, which consisted of a video narrated by James Earl Jones and a quick illumination with flood lights. It was unexpected and probably one of the most American things I've seen so far in our travels.
Badlands National Park
The gem in the area is Badlands. It's incredible and unlike ANYTHING I have ever seen and at this point I've seen quite a lot. The rocks are unbelievable and the bison are even more amazing here. They're a bit shy but if you're quiet they'll walk next to your car`` and continue eating grass. They're still wild animals and it's very evident, but at the same time they're quite gentle.
Since we were in the area and it was just short of a two hour drive and it's been a childhood dream to visit Devil's Tower. It's an iconic scene from one of my favorite movies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and it was something Dad and I always enjoyed watching together.
There really is a spiritual connection here. The local American Indian tribes consider this place sacred and the month of June is reserved as a ceremonial time, so you see many prayer flags posted throughout. It's incredibly quiet and the ominous tower above you is a great reminder of the grandness of our world.
We thought Bear Country USA would be very hokey, but oh we were wrong! We've been keeping an eye out for bears and this is the PERFECT place to safely view them. This is a 30-40 minute drive through loop with animals all around you. The bears are very active this time of year and having a lot of fun. Then, at the end of the loop, you can get out and check out the exhibits with all sorts of baby animals to see. And yes, you'll want a baby timber wolf of your own by the time you leave. Try convincing a two-year-old we can't take one home with us.
Crazy Horse Memorial
The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument under construction on privately held land in the Black Hills, in Custer County, South Dakota, United States. It will depict the Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, riding a horse and pointing to his tribal land. (Wikipedia)
This place was somewhat difficult to enjoy, and honestly, I don't think you're supposed to. It's a stark reminder that America didn't always follow a moral path to where it is now.
What a packed week in South Dakota! Up next we're heading to Montana for two weeks, one of which will be spent at Glacier National Park. We're very excited about that!