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Things to do on a road trip to South Dakota

Updated on May 10, 2016

Taking a trip to South Dakota

I live in New York and have never ventured westward at all until recently. I had never heard much about South Dakota. I thought that there was basically nothing worth seeing there. When I decided to do some research on the area for a book I am working on, I became interested in visiting. When I finally got the chance I decided to go out and see the sites in South Dakota for myself It is worth passing through if you ever have the opportunity.The drive from New York to South Dakota leads you through a few big cities such as Chicago, (which has the best pizza I have ever had btw), and Cleveland. After you pass these cities there is basically nothing. Even upon arriving in South Dakota there is absolutely nothing for quite a while. When I say nothing, I mean, there is just farm land and prairies that stretch as far as the eye can see. You can see miles of nothing ahead of you.This is what you will see until you reach the western side of the state of South Dakota, where you will find that there are plenty of things to see.

Mount_Rushmore
Mount_Rushmore

The Black Hills/ Mount Rushmore

Driving through the black hills was quit the scenic drive.The black hills got their name from the native Americans. They were called black hills because from a distance the pine covered hills look black. Mount Rushmore is one of the main attractions in the black hills.While taking a hike on one of the trails through the black hills,I caught my first glimpse of Mount Rushmore at a distance. I thought is was really cool. Mount Rushmore is located in the black hills near the small town of keystone.Mount Rushmore is largely composed of granite. The carving of Mount Rushmore involved the use of dynamite, jack hammering,and chiseling . The workers included minors, sculptors and rock climbers. The rocky mountain goats can be seen near Mount Rushmore.Some things to do while you are at Mount Rushmore are taking a stroll down the avenue of flags, visit the visitor center and museum, walk the presidential trail (which has the best view of presidents faces), view Mount Rushmore from grand view terrace, and visit the sculptors studio. You must also stop by the carvers cafe where they offer bison meat on their menu. There is also a gift shop that you should check out while you are there. The gift shop has crafts such as pottery made by the Sioux Indians.I bought a piece of pottery while there and it is pretty nice. There is also a site online where you can order pottery from them.

Crazy Horse

The Crazy Horse memorial is currently under construction in the Black Hills of SD.It is about 17 miles from Mount Rushmore. The monuments final dimensions are planned to be 641 ft. wide and 563 ft. high. The monument will be of Crazy Horse(an Oglala Lakota warrior) ridding his horse. Though it is not finished, it is cool to go see this monument as a work in progress.I got to see it, and would love to go back some day and see it when it is finished.

Crazy horse
Crazy horse

Custer State Park

Custer Park, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota is the second largest state park in America.Custer Park is home to a large variety of wildlife, and beautiful scenery. About 1,300 bison,aka,buffalo roam the prairies. You can see the buffalo pretty up close. The picture I have posted is of a buffalo that came right up to my car. I spotted the buffalo on the wildlife loop road. This is a road that goes through the park. Some other wildlife that you may see when driving on this road are bighorn sheep,antelope,deer,elk,coyote, and prairie dogs. Custer park offers many trails for those interested in hiking and biking. Some other things offered at the park are horseback riding, fishing, gold panning demonstrations, Buffalo Safari Jeep Tours,kayaking etc.Custer Park also offers camping at several scenic locations. Some unique scenery you can see while visiting Custer Park are Needles. Needles are slender granite formations.The needles highway curves and winds through 14 miles of these granite rock formations.I really enjoyed visiting this park, and I really recommend it as a place to go.

Custer Park_South Dakota_Bison
Custer Park_South Dakota_Bison
Custer Park_South Dakota_Bison
Custer Park_South Dakota_Bison

Trying buffalo meat

I did try buffalo meat and I do recommend it. I thought that the meat was very tasteful. I had it ground on a wrap. The meat was a lot like regular ground beef in taste.The taste was kind of like veal in my opinion. Buffalo meat is more lean than ground beef. I personally think that it is very delicious and also like that it is healthier than ground beef.

"Needles"

Badlands

The badlands national park is a must see. Next to the Alps I think the badlands are the most breath taking thing I have seen. It is pretty cool how you can see the layering in the rock from erosion. The badlands consist of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires. Driving through the badlands is amazing,but there are also trails you can walk such as the notch trail and castle trail. While walking a trail I got the chance to see some wildlife. Some different types of wildlife that you may see include buffalo, elk, mule deer, etc. The badlands got their name from the Lakota Indians whom called them that due to extreme temperatures, lack of water, and rugged terrain, which made traveling through them difficult.

Badlands_South Dakota
Badlands_South Dakota

Where to stay

When visiting South Dakota I stayed at a hotel in Rapid City. Rapid city is one of the larger cities in South Dakota located near the black hills.The hotel was the Grandstay Residential Suites (660 Disc Dr.Rapid City,SD 57701). I stayed in a very nice room which included a hot tub and also included a kitchen with a stove top and fridge. It was very nice, and the staff was also very helpful.Upon arrival I was given a map of the surrounding area which was very useful. The price of the hotel was great. Lets just say that in my hometown, a hotel room that nice would be almost double the price.If you are not planning on camping, this would be a great hotel to consider.

show route and directions
A markerblack hills south dakota -
Black Hills, United States
get directions

B markerbadlands south dakota -
Badlands National Park, Scenic, SD 57780, USA
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    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 3 years ago

      Interesting hub, Casetta. I'm considering visiting Mount Rushmore so I searched on Google for "Hubpages South Dakota" and a link to your Hubpages was one of the first links in the search results! Your hub and others gets right to the point of explaining travel spots to visit. Thanks:-)

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      I have been to a few of the places a long time ago, they are awesome! I'd love to go back again. Voted up nice hub :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad you got a chance to visit South Dakota. The Badlands area really is quite beautiful....as for the rest of the state, you are right...there is nothing. :)

    • cassetta profile image
      Author

      Serena Cassetta 4 years ago

      Thank you for reading my hub, and giving words of encouragement! :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Casetta, welcome to HubPages. I'm glad you had the opportunity to visit South Dakota. Seems you had a wonderful road trip and saw some lovely sights including "farm land and prairies that stretch as far as the eye can see." Your pictures are great and your presentation is good. You can only get better on HP. All the best!