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Black Hills of South Dakota – Day Six

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→Note: this post is the sixth in a series as we cover a week long vacation itinerary. Our trip starts at Rapid City, South Dakota. 

Day Six

Destination: Badlands National Park

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  • Website link: Badlands National Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per car
  • Accommodations: Cedar Pass Lodge and campground, and one additional primitive campground. Backcountry camping is permitted. See the website for details.

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Take I-90 east toward Wall, South Dakota. Drive time: 1 hour.

Bonus stop: Wall Drug Store. The ultimate tourist trap! You can’t miss the exit because there is a sign every few hundred feet (it seems) along I-90. This place has everything imaginable, including their famous free ice water. Definitely worth a stop for food, gasoline, shopping, and more.

From Wall, take Highway 240 south to the Pinnacles Entrance of Badlands National Park.

Look for bison and prairie dogs near the entrance station. Notice the pristine prairie of Buffalo Gap National Grassland. Listen for the wind rustling the grasses. The rattling sound the grass makes is enchanting.

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After entering the park, turn right (west) on to Sage Creek Rim Road (unpaved) for spectacular views and sightings of bighorn sheep. Stop at each of the overlooks on this road for major photo ops of the Badlands Wilderness. Remember not to approach or feed wildlife.

Turn around and head east toward the paved road, which is Badlands Loop Road. Follow this road through the park, stopping at the overlooks for different perspectives and information on the park. Photos do not do justice to the beautiful scenery in this park. We believe it needs be seen in person.

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Badlands Wilderness
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Panoramic view from Badlands Loop Road

It is approximately 25 miles from the Pinnacles Entrance to the park headquarters, Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Just before reaching the visitor center, stretch your legs at the short, easy Fossil Exhibit Trail, then drive on to the visitor center for the exhibits, more gorgeous scenery, and additional park information.

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Stunning colors!
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Yes, it really is this pretty!
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Ancient Seabed

Take Highway 240 north out of the park toward I-90.

IMG_1586Bonus stop: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Just north of I-90 when exiting Badlands National Park. View the exhibits in the visitor center and check in for your guided tour of the park’s Delta-01 site. During the tour, you will go underground to see how minuteman missiles were used to protect the United States during the Cold War. Advance reservations are required for the tour, and there is a nominal fee. Check the park’s website for details. Here’s a link: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

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This is a very interesting site and a great learning experience! We highly recommend a tour of the Delta-01 site.

Return to Rapid City via I-90 west.

That’s day six, folks, and what a full day it was! We hope you enjoyed traveling with us to Badlands National Park, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, and Wall Drug Store. Our mission is to share our knowledge to help you plan your own great vacations. Log in to our site next week for the final day, Day Seven, of our Black Hills vacation itinerary. Better yet, become a follower so you get an e-mail notification every time we post a new trip. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to the Black Hills of South Dakota – Day One

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→Note: this post is the first in a series as we cover a week long vacation itinerary. Our trip starts at Rapid City, South Dakota. 

  • Rapid City, South Dakota is a great “home” base for all this area has to offer.
  • Rapid City has a major airport.
  • Excellent family vacation destination.
  • When to go: Anytime. We recommend May, June, July and September. (Note: the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place during the first two weeks of August. We do not recommend going at this time unless you are planning to participate in the rally.)

There is so much to do in the western part of South Dakota that you could actually spend several days (or weeks) at most of the sites we’re going to talk about, however, we’re going to do it in one week. For those who want to do it all and see it all, but don’t have a lot of time, this road trip is the one for you!

Starting in Rapid City, let’s hit the road.

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*Recommended hotel in Rapid City: Holiday Inn Express on I-90. (Restaurants and shopping nearby.)

*Recommended splurge restaurant in Rapid City: Minervas Restaurant & Bar – 2111 N. LaCrosse St.

*Recommended family restaurant in Rapid City: Chili’s Grill & Bar – 2125 Haines Ave.

*RV and tent camping available in many locations in and around Rapid City.

Day One:

Destinations: Devils Tower National Monument and Spearfish Canyon

Travel tip: this will be a full day, so plan to leave early in the morning. We recommend 7:00 am. Pack a picnic lunch, road snacks, plenty of water, and suitable-for-hiking footwear for this day trip.

Drive time between Rapid City and Devils Tower National Monument: 1.75 hours.

IMG_1299Take I-90 West toward Sturgis. Bonus Stop: Sturgis, South Dakota. Even if you’re not a biker, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame is worth a stop.

Continue on I-90 via Spearfish, and then on to Sundance, Wyoming. At Sundance, the road changes to US Highway 14. Bonus Stop: Sundance, Wyoming. Crook County Museum – 309 E Cleveland St. Nice museum with history about the area and the Sundance Kid.

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Travel tip: top off your gas tank in Sundance.

Continue on US Highway 14, then take Highway 24 north toward Devil’s Tower.  Make a quick stop at the Devils Tower Trading Post for souvenirs before proceeding to the park entrance.

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Devils Tower National Monument

  • Website link: Devils Tower National Monument
  • Cost: $20.00 per car (as of August, 2018). Travel tip: the National Park Service will be increasing all park entrance fees during the next year.
  • RV and tent camping available in the park.
  • Picnic areas and hiking trails in the park.
  • Night sky programs.
  • Climbing is permitted with registration of climbers.

 After a stop at the visitor center, we recommend taking Tower Trail for a hike around the base of Devils Tower. Just a little over a mile long, the trail is easy (stroller friendly) and has some tree shaded areas and benches. Look up to see (the very gutsy) climbers on the tower. Afterward, enjoy a picnic lunch in the park.

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Devils Tower from Tower Trail
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Another view of Devils Tower

Take Highway 24 back to US Highway 14/I-90 east toward Spearfish, South Dakota. Bonus stop: Vore Buffalo Jump (archaeological site). Take Exit 199. Here’s a link: Vore Buffalo Jump.

Spearfish Canyon

At Spearfish take US Highway (Alt)14 south (Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway). Breathtaking scenery. Can’t miss: Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls for photo ops. Plan to hike the easy, paved trail at Roughlock Falls.

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Bridal Veil Falls
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Roughlock Falls

Continue on US Highway (Alt)14 to Deadwood.

Bonus stop: Deadwood, South Dakota.img_1383.jpg This town is a National Historic Landmark, rich in Black Hills Gold Rush and Old West history. Shopping, casinos, bars and restaurants, as well as historic homes, a museum, and the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

Hotels and camping available in Deadwood.

Continue on US Highway 14 to Sturgis, then take I-90 east to Rapid City.

We hope you had a fun and exciting first day of your Black Hills vacation. Check back next week for Day Two. Until then…

Travel safe, travel smart and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018