South Dakota

South Dakota

South Dakota is one of those states that just surprises you because you cannot believe how much there is to do and discover. I really think people take the Dakotas for granted and they shouldn't. Besides Mt. Rushmore I counted 16 other things we did here that were fun, educational interesting-some even left us scratching our heads (like the Cosmos Mystery Area and the Corn Palace). I think the most profound thing … [Read more...]

Crazy Horse Memorial (Crazy Horse)

Destination: North and South Dakota

The Crazy Horse Memorial was an absolutely complete disappointment. This is the mother of all tourist traps. My suggestion is to keep your fanny pack zipped, and pass on this waste of time.  It’s a “work in progress” that hasn’t progressed in the last 20 years. When we approached in the car and were told the price and saw the memorial carving, I turned my car around and left. There are far more interesting … [Read more...]

Ingalls Family Homestead (De Smet)

Destination #5: North and South Dakota

The Ingalls Family Homestead in De Smet  is the original homestead where the Ingalls family settled after coming out west  and was the inspiration for many of the stories in the Little House On The Prairie series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder who lived here as a young girl. You need not have read any of her books to appreciate this stop-though my daughter Lilia had and she gave us a running commentary through our … [Read more...]

Badlands National Park (Interior)

Destination #5: North and South Dakota

The Badlands National Park is incredibly beautiful. I have never seen rock formations with so many gorgeous colors. The striations of greens and blues, reds and golds were just breathtaking.  What is so strange is that the surrounding landscape is totally flat prairie and then all of a sudden there is this incredible rock canyon that looks like it was carved out  by millions of years of rushing water.  How did it … [Read more...]

Prairie Homestead (Interior)

Destination #5: North and South Dakota

The Prairie Homestead was one of my favorite places on the whole trip and  is the original sod home of Mr. & Mrs. Ed Brown built in 1909. It is typical of the homes and outbuildings that pioneers built and is one of the last remaining original sod homes intact today. These pioneers played a very important part in settling the Great Plains and the kids and I learned all about them.  Go inside the home and you … [Read more...]

Mount Rushmore National Memorial (Keystone)

Destination #5: North and South Dakota

Driving up the hill to Mt. Rushmore, the anticipation was killing me.  I just could not wait to see those iconic faces carved into the stone face in the Black Hills.  Walking up to the viewing area between the flags of all 50 states I glanced up my first reaction was ...oh, they're a lot smaller than I thought.   We stood there for a few moments taking it all in and after recalibrating after my initial reaction, … [Read more...]

National Presidential Wax Museum (Keystone)

National Presidential Wax Museum

Just at the gateway to Mount Rushmore is the town of Keystone, a true frontier town with lots to see and do. It’s a great place to have lunch, explore some interesting shops and trading posts and engage in some fun activities at some quirky little tourist traps like the National Presidential Wax Museum.  While we were having lunch at the local pizza parlor we were startled by some shouting coming from the street. … [Read more...]

The Corn Palace (Mitchell)

Destination #5: North and South Dakota

Every guide book said that the Corn Palace was an absolutely do not miss, so we couldn't wait to get there.  When we arrived, we checked out the outside of the building which is a collection of mosaics of various scenes made from different shades of dried corn kernels. The mosaics we saw all had a cowboy and rodeo theme but we found out that every year the designs change.   After all the kernels are painstakingly … [Read more...]

State Capitol Buildinge (Pierre)

Destination #5: North and South Dakota

You can't drive through South Dakota without going to the South Dakota State Capitol Building in Pierre.  For some reason that state capitol always stuck out in my mind when I was memorizing the 50 state capitols in grade school. I always thought the way to pronounce it was like the French name Pierre (Pee-air), but it’s not. If you want to sound like a local and pronounce it correctly, it’ pronounced … [Read more...]

Bear Country USA (Rapid City)

Destination: North and South Dakota

Nestled amidst over 250 acres of towering pines and rolling meadows just eight miles south of Rapid City lies Bear Country U.S.A. This is one of those drive through wild animal parks that I remember as a kid.  On our leisurely three-mile drive through several enclosures we encountered black bear, elk, reindeer, deer, cougars, bobcats, rocky mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, sheep, and buffalo. All the animals are … [Read more...]