Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

Why the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota are a Must See

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Ever since we moved to Colorado almost five years ago, we have talked about taking a road trip to Mount Rushmore. We are less than six hours away so there really isn’t much of an excuse not to.

Life always seemed to get in the way so we decided to throw caution to the wind and be spontaneous. We’re not getting any younger, right? So this past weekend, we finally did what we said we were going to. With less than 24 hours of planning, we packed our bags, got boarding for the dog, then gathered up the kids and hit the road. We were off to see the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota. 

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

When we decided to take this trip we saw that there could be some bad weather that may put a damper on our plans. On Friday the forecast changed from snow to rain so we hit the road late Friday afternoon as planned. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t listen to weather forecasts. 

After some scary road conditions and an unexpected overnight stop in a tiny town in Wyoming, we arrived at our destination. The beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

Crazy Horse Memorial

On the way up to Mount Rushmore, we made a stop at the Crazy Horse Memorial in Custer, South Dakota. This was so much more fun than any of us anticipated. I thought we would look at the carving of Crazy Horse’s head in the rock and be on our way. But no! There is a really interesting film about the conception and carving of Crazy Horse and how it is a family affair. Amazingly, just his head took 50 years to complete and there is a lot more to go. 

In addition to the memorial itself, here are a lot of interesting Native American artifacts and several buildings with so much interesting information about the building of the memorial. Also, the Crazy Horse Memorial is 100% privately funded. So if you are ever in the area, stop in. It really is a must-see and your admission goes toward completing this amazing memorial.

The Black Hills of South Dakota & Mount Rushmore

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

Driving through the Black Hills forest was absolutely breathtaking. There are lush green evergreen forests and amazing rock formations that took our breath away. Then you turn a corner and there it is. Mount Rushmore. I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect to be able to see the monument from the road. 

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlandsFamily travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

Inside the park was even more beautiful. We grabbed some lunch after our long drive and took a walk out to the monument. Walking up to it, it was hard to believe we were actually there. 

I loved that all 50 state flags are on display as you walk up to the monument itself. Since the flags are displayed alphabetically, my native state of Connecticut and my new home state of Colorado were next to each other. That put a little smile on my face. 

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

Inside the park, there is a museum of how they made the monument. They had a lot of photos of the making of it as well as models of how the monument was originally supposed to look. 

It’s amazing how they did so much of it with jack hammers and explosives. Speaking of which, Dub loved playing with the dynamite simulator. He stayed here and pushed the plunger while the rest of us looked around.

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

On the way in and out of Mount Rushmore, we were greeted by a herd of mountain goats who make the Black Hills their home. If you know me, you know that I have a weird obsession with goats so these guys were definitely a highlight of the trip for me. 

Deadwood

To end our day we went about an hour away from Mount Rushmore to the town of Deadwood. This is where Buffalo Bill met his demise and is the epitome of an Old West town. We stayed long enough to have dinner in the historic district and walk around Main Street for a while before heading back to our hotel. I highly recommend making the drive if you are in the area.

Badlands National Park

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

Since our trip was spontaneous, we only had one full day to see just a portion of what the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota has to offer. However, we are already looking forward to our next trip. There is still so much more to see. Badlands National Park is definitely number one on that list!

I am in love with the Wild West and am so grateful to now call it my home with such incredible places to visit just a few hours away. Until next time, South Dakota. We’ll be back soon!

See more photos of our amazing road trip on my Instagram

Family travel: Find out what is so great about the South Dakota Black Hills & Badlands; home of Mount Rushmore @BlackHillsSD (AD) #BlackHillsBadlands

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20 Comments

  1. We did a South Dakota vacation when I was an older teen and it was one of the best family memories ever!!! 😀 Amazing captures!

  2. Margaret Appel says:

    It looks like a lot of fun! I can see we’ll have to add South Dakota to our bucket list of places to take the family to visit. Love all the awesome pictures!

  3. Wow! I loved viewing such amazing snaps. Wish to visit Mt. Rushmore soon. 🙂

  4. 1stclassrvadventures says:

    Wow I love all of the pictures! Definitely with that short of a drive I’m glad you guys made it out this is on my list during our travels! I love the picture of the goats!

  5. What a gorgeous place to visit. I have a friend who moved there years ago and I’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t been able to yet due to back issues.

  6. I would love to visit and see the beautiful views for myself. It’s been a long time since I last saw Mount Rushmore!

  7. Elizabeth O. says:

    It would be nice to go here and just enjoy everything that the place has to offer. I’m pretty sure my twins will also have a great time.

  8. l actually always wondered what it would be like to visit Mt. Rushmore. It would be so cool to hear the backstory of it while visiting and being able to see it up close.

  9. I would just love to visit Mt Rushmore!!! It must be so amazing up close! Thanks for this post I enjoyed it a lot – almost felt like i was there for a few minutes!

  10. It looks like it was an amazing trip. I have yet to make it there but I really would like to someday. I hope I can soon.

  11. Jessica Taylor says:

    I have always wanted to go there! Seems so cool!

  12. What a beautiful place to visit. I have wanted to make it out that way for some time, but haven’t been able to yet. Maybe one of these days I will.

  13. This is now on my must-visit list! I love the photos! Thanks for taking us along with you!

  14. Glad you guys had such a great time on your trip – I loved the photos of the wildlife, too! I’ve never really been out west, but would so love the chance someday.

  15. The black hills sounds like a wonderful vacation. I always love going on vacation and learning something new!

  16. I’d definitely try the dynamite thingy. I love explosives thatI dont have to hold in my hand. That being said I wanna go here

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