We packed a lot into the five days we spent on this road trip. We started off visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, MN. I recently finished reading the complete annotated biography of Laura’s life called Pioneer Girl, so this was a treat for me.
(The photo above is of the original tiles from the last newspaper printed by the Walnut Grove Tribune. It remains just as it was left at the printing press.)
Once we left Walnut Grove, we were amazed at how many wind turbines we saw…
We started to approach the Black Hills (finally!), and our view changed quite a bit…lots of trees and well- hills of course! We rented a cabin in Hill City, and were so glad to get out of the car and hit the hot tub for the night.
The next day, we visited Deadwood and Mead. We had lunch and watched a re-enactment of the assassination of Wild Bill Hickok-of which Chris volunteered to play a part! I wish I would’ve taken photos, but I’m sure the kids won’t forget seeing their dad dressed like a cowboy playing poker with “Wild Bill” at the table as he was shot dead!
The next couple of days included visits to Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, The Badlands and Wall Drug.
After our visit at Mt. Rushmore, we found ourselves on a very narrow and winding road that took us on one of the most beautiful and fun drives we’ve ever been on. We didn’t necessarily plan it, but were so glad to find ourselves on the Iron Mountain Road. Some photos below:
(Look closely at the photo below- you can see Mt. Rushmore in the background)
Photos below are of the Badlands:
Or trip into the Badlands was interesting and a little unnerving. We followed the directions given to us on our phones, and ended up entering in the back way, or “scenic” way I guess. We had no idea what to expect, and after seeing the view in the above photo for a long time (without seeing another single vehicle), we began to wonder if we had gone the wrong way. Then we saw this:
and a few minutes later we saw a similar sign informing us that we were leaving Badlands National Park. Umm- okay?
It seemed we were going way too far. The tank was getting a little low for my comfort and the sun would be setting fairly soon -and then just as Chris “joked” quietly to me about how it seemed like we were at the beginning of an episode of “I Survived” we saw a sign exactly like this:
Seriously. I was alarmed. Thank goodness only a few minutes later we finally saw another vehicle ahead of us turning onto a dirt road that our phones were telling us was the way we were supposed to go, too, and things got a bit more hopeful. The scenery changed and we seemed to have finally arrived at the part of the Badlands where people actually go. Then, it was actually quite beautiful:
The kids weren’t thrilled that I wouldn’t let them go prancing through the hills like they wanted to after so long in the car (you know-PLAGUE) but I did manage to persuade them into smiling for the above photo. We never found the visitor center (I know there is one somewhere?) because I honestly couldn’t get out of this place fast enough. I feel that there should be some kind of signage or warning or SOMETHING for people traveling the route we took. Something about not seeing any type of civilization or a gas station or anything for a really, really long time. Maybe we’re just inexperienced road-trippers (we are, I guess), but the Badlands really were kind of bad to us.
Next Stop…Wall Drug.
I found Wall Drug to be a little bit strange and I’m not really sure what to say about it. We had lunch there, spent too much money on souvenirs, and wandered around the seemingly never-ending aisles of weird, random collections of over-priced stuff and then we left.
And that concludes our whirlwind South Dakota Trip! It took me ,like, two weeks to recover from this one-ha!