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Great Travel Destination - South Dakota?

Updated on July 26, 2012

Let's Meet in Keystone, SD

If you are looking for a great destination for the family this summer or early fall, what better place than South Dakota? This may seem funny and a bit weird that anyone would call a place like South Dakota a great summer destination. Most would think Florida, California, the Rock Mountains or a nice lake. Most people think of South Dakota and its bordering states as lost prairie land that is only a good place for cows and other herds to roam and a bad place to run out of gas.

I won’t lie and tell you that both those stereotypes are true of South Dakota, but what happens when you get to a fantastic God made place called the Black Hills? The beauty begins with shear cliffs, scenic highways and country roads, and a smorgasbord of great small towns. The prairie ends, the grassland disappears, and the “Dances with Wolves” film site ends up in your rear view mirror.

Our destination this summer was Mount Rushmore National Park dedicated to four great U.S. Presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. The happenstance was that we made hotel reservations in a small town just two miles from the parking lot of the National Park in a small but quaint town named Keystone. We had driven for a while on a small two lane road through Ponderosa pines and listened to the groaning engine struggle to get the minivan up some of the mountain passes. Upon arriving in Keystone my family and I were thoroughly impressed. If I had to describe it in just a quick sentence I would have to say it resembled an old mining town, following a thin twisting valley with a rustic feel populated by small family run businesses. Everything was clean, the people were kind, and every corner of the United States seemed to be represented there as we noticed the license plate states. The history of the Lakota Sioux tribe was still alive with men dancing in the street in native dress displaying their proud heritage. Just a few of the great town attractions were the antique stores, the small trinket shops, the chair lift to the top of an alpine slide, and the chainsaw wood carvers. One plug the town used was “Fourteen hotels and 700 rooms”, and this all from a town of less than 400 residents.

We were only two miles to the parking lot of Mount Rushmore which exceeded my expectations. A 9:00 P.M. trip to the park for a lighting ceremony of the rock face was a recommendation of some of our friends with the promise that I would love it. I left the nighttime lighting ceremony feeling proud to be an American, and actually learned quite a bit of our nation’s history and why these four presidents were picked specifically. The tribute to our U.S. military veterans was another one of the great moments of the night.

There were so many things to do in and around Keystone, that we didn’t have the time to experience it all. For this reason I believe we may have to plan the trip again. You should look into this area of the country for a driving getaway. It was absolutely one of the prettiest and most interesting places I have been in the country and I have been to 39 states and counting. Trust me on this one; you won’t be disappointed.


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