We’ve traveled to South Dakota, USA on numerous occasions. Each time, we’ve enjoyed the drive and have tried to explore things we hadn’t seen on previous trips.
Deadwood, SD is a 688 km drive from where we live, and it usually serves as our home base for exploring the Black Hills area.
On our last visit there, we took in the Crazy Horse Memorial (featured image). This work in progress was commissioned in 1948 to the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. Since his death in 1982, Ziolkowski’s family have taken over the project, and because it relies heavily on donations, there is no estimated date of completion. For a size comparison, the head of Crazy Horse is 87 ft tall, while the heads of each of the presidents in Mt Rushmore are 60 ft tall. The entire Mt. Rushmore monument would sit on the outstretched arm of Crazy Horse.
Another great spot is the Mount Moriah Cemetery overlooking Deadwood Gulch. This peaceful area with paved walkways and towering pines and spruce is the final resting place of old west celebrities such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.
The Days of ’76 Museum is a must stop for history buffs and anyone who has an interest in horse-drawn carts and buggies. My Dad, who had built a buggy from scratch (inclusive of bending the wheels), was very keen on this exhibit.
On every trip to South Dakota, we visit Mt. Rushmore. Just because …
The Needles Highway is an incredible afternoon drive. The highway was completed in 1922 and it boggles the mind to consider what a feat it was to complete this road at that time in history. Due to the narrow, winding road, an average speed of 25 mph is recommended. This 14 mile stretch along the north end of SD 87 has 2 short tunnels in it that were blasted through sheer granite. The tunnels allow 1 lane of traffic only, so a vehicle must enter with caution when no other vehicle is seen from the other side. There is a $20 per vehicle fee to enter Custer State Park. This scenic drive is worth every penny!
Wall Drug … What started as a small drug store in Wall, SD in 1931, is now a sprawling tourist attraction that is advertised on billboards in both directions on a 650 mile stretch of I 90 from Minnesota to North Dakota. Each Billboard tells you how many miles to Wall Drug. The attraction is carnivalesque in atmosphere. There are gift shops, animated figures, opportunities to pan for gold, and fun photo ops like the one of me on the giant Jackalope out front. To tour the entire establishment, one needs at least 3 hours. It’s a cheesy good time and fun for all ages. 5-cent coffee and free ice water abound.
We’ll be returning to South Dakota soon. In my biased opinion, driving is the only way to see the area and experience all it has to offer.
I love to drive in the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota with Mount Rushmore as the central stop.