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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.