Western South Dakota

From Sioux Falls we headed due west on I-90 to the small town of Keystone south of Rapid City.  We stayed at the Magnuson Rushmore View RV park right in town.  Upon our arrival I have to say that we were both a little disappointed with the campground as we were parked behind a cafe and laundromat and the only view of Mt. Rushmore was from the entrance to the hotel’s parking lot.  We should know by now not to have such high expectations. However, it wound up being a quiet campground with a nice bath house and was the perfect central location for all our adventures. We liked the view behind the camper and did get to see a family of deer checking out the vegetation one day…

After getting set up we drove around the bend into town to check out the shops along the boardwalk.  The first order of business was donning some old-fashioned garb and having a sepia toned photo taken.  Ronnie has always wanted one and what perfect place then while in an old western town. He was a confederate officer and gentleman and I was the sophisticated southern lady.

While we waited for our prints we dined at Ruby’s a few doors down…

Ronnie had buffalo ribs (which he said tasted like pot roast) and I ate a salad with grilled chicken.

Since it had been a long day on the road we headed back to the camper to unwind before calling it a day.

The next day we viewed the amazing Mt. Rushmore. 

I was intrigued with the way Gutzon Borglund was able to determine the proper perspective.  As I was studying to become a graphic artist the only subject I made less than an A in was drawing.  I understand the importance of perspective in a drawing or painting but drawing is not my forte.  Perspective on paper is completely different than perspective on a mountain side and the way he conquered it was nothing short of amazing if you ask me.  Mind blown!

After seeing such a creation by man that afternoon we drove through a magnificent creation by God – Badlands National Park.  (We got in the park for free thanks to our Interagency Senior Pass.)

It was breathtaking and reminded us of a miniature Grand Canyon and the Painted Rocks in Arizona.

I’m sorry for the photo dump of the Badlands but I could not pick out a favorite.  I mean, 244,000 acres of jagged buttes, spires and pinnacles popping up out of the expansive grasslands that surround it is a sight to behold.

We got to see a few residents of the Badlands along the way…

This was the first time I’ve ever seen a Prairie Dog. They’re adorable!

We drove out of there finding ourselves thoroughly amazed for the second time in one day.

On our way to the Badlands we stopped at the town of Wall. For miles and miles along Interstate 90 we saw billboards for Wall Drug. The more billboards we saw the more variety of stuff this Wall Drug seemed to carry. Our curiosity having been piqued we had to stop.

Come to find out the Drugstore encompasses several blocks and pretty much is the whole town.

It would’ve been a fun place to spend a couple hours but the Badlands were calling so off we went.

The following day we drove through the Black Hills and a portion of Custer State Park. 

On the way we got to see the profile of George Washington as seen above and the Sylvan Lake Lodge in Custer tucked amongst the rocks and trees as seen below.

This little guy (or gal) was so cute and so fast. I was thoroughly entertained by its antics.

Again, so much beauty to absorb.

We were home in time to board the vintage steam 1880 Train (also known as Black Hills Central Railroad) at the Keystone Depot which took us through the Black Hills to Hill City and back.

It’s a twenty mile round trip and takes about an hour to go one way. We got to see a couple abandoned remnants of mines and miner camps along the way and the narrator told us of local history as we chugged past.  It was a fun experience.

Our last day there we drove along the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway to Lead and Deadwood – more old mining towns.  Along the way we came across Pactola Lake – the largest and deepest reservoir in the Black Hills…

It was so beautiful! I wanted to find a cabin on the water’s edge and stay forever.

Deadwood was a happening place with tons of cool places in historic downtown…

We did not stop to walk around but there would’ve been tons to see and do (and eat!) if we had. The drive through the canyon was quite amazing as well. I did not get any photos of the canyon because there weren’t many place to pull over and our windshield was filthy.

The Black Hills area has so much to offer those who visit – from outdoor adventures to historic towns to simply driving around and seeing the beauty of the hills.  There were a few other sights we would’ve like to have visited such as Devil’sTower and the Black Hills in Wyoming but time and money ran out so we’ll catch them another time.

Dates at Magnuson Rushmore View RV campground:  August 17 – 22