It was time for us to see what the western part of South Dakota had to offer. All that stood in our way was a 4 hour drive across the state.
We made a couple stops along the way to break up the drive. Our first stop was the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.
They switch out the corn murals at least once a year with a cost of $130,000. The boys were surprised at all the different colors of the corn.
Next, we visited one of the South Dakota Visitor centers that had a 50 foot tall statue of a Native American woman. The statue was named Dignity.
We quickly noticed a change in the landscape after crossing the Missouri River. The rolling hills of South Dakota were a welcome sight!!
After finishing up the final 2 hours of the drive, we arrived at Badlands National Park. The welcoming committee was out in full force!
The closer we got to the park, the more the anticipation built as we could see the pointy cliffs getting bigger and bigger. There were so many amazing overlooks!
We rounded a corner and found these guys scratching their backs on the rocks.
The entire scenic loop through the park was AMAZING! Around every turn there were incredible rock formations and/or wildlife.
As we were leaving the park, these guys were hanging out by the road!
The road out of the park led us to the city of Wall, South Dakota. We stopped by the Wall Drug store. There were so many advertisement signs along Interstate 90 that we started keeping track. We counted 50 and I’m sure we missed a few. It was a neat store, to be fair.
From Wall, we drove further south and west to our lodging for the next two days. Again, the weather for tomorrow didn’t look the best so we decided to head over to Mount Rushmore that evening.
The good news was, we had crossed over into the Mountain Time Zone, which meant we gained another hour of daylight.
We caught our first glimpse of Mount Rushmore while driving the road leading up to the park. The anticipation built!
It was unbelievable to finally see it in person!
We walked the presidential trail that winds its way a little closer to the faces on the mountain.
We finished the night off by sticking around for the lighting ceremony. It was definitely worth the wait! It was a 45 minute program that provided education about the mountain and recognized all military members in attendance. So cool!
The next day was our only full day in the Black Hills area. They were originally calling for rain most of the day. However, we woke up to partly sunny skies and decided to head out early.
We took the Iron Mountain Road on the way to Custer State Park.
The big draw of Custer State Park is the wildlife. The scenery is beautiful as well, but most people come to see animals like bison, antelope, bighorn sheep and prairie dogs.
We didn’t see quite as many animals as we were expecting on the wildlife loop, but it was still a beautiful drive.
The wildlife loop flows into the Needles Highway, which was probably our favorite stretch of road in the area.
The Needles Highway leads straight to Sylvan Lake. Camping and hiking are popular around the lake, but we only had time for a quick stop.
After getting lunch in the city of Custer, we made the short drive north to Crazy Horse.
It was a neat stop but probably not worth the $35 entrance fee. The project began in 1948 and is still going today. It is a massive undertaking and will take many more years to complete.
At this point in the day, we were all ready for a little relaxation. We went back to our lodging and rested until dinner time.
We decided to eat dinner in the old western-style town of Keystone. We visited the shops before calling it a day!
Tomorrow will take us briefly into Wyoming and then we will finish the day in North Dakota!