Hiking

The Black Hills of South Dakota

The Black Hills includes everything you’ve read so far, and because there’s so much there, I wanted to break it up into a few separate posts.  There is simply no way to explain everything in one.  For a place you might never have heard of, there sure is a lot to do!

Although our recent trip doesn’t quite match this post, I thought it might be fun to condense things into a shorter adventurer.  Some of the things in this post we did on the trip, and other items we didn’t have time for.

Let’s say you have 4 days (3 nights), and you fly into Rapid City.  Well, what should you do?

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National Parks, Monuments, and Places to Explore in the Black Hills

One of the great aspects of this area of the country is the land.  Luckily, much of it is protected in some form by the National Park system, and you’d regret not seeing at least some of it.  If you’re in the area, be sure to explore some of the great parks and monuments South Dakota has to offer.  If you have the time, you can even head over to Wyoming for Devil’s Tower or Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons farther west.

We didn’t stop at all of the places I’ll mention, but we managed to see most of them during our week-long trip!

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South Dakota: Custer

We were in South Dakota for 8 days (including travel).  It’s refreshing to stay a bit longer in one place, after fast trips this year to Austin, Baltimore, and Costa Rica.  I’d say a week for one area is fine, any less than that and it’s tough to not feel cramped.  Of course, if you have longer than a week to explore an interesting place, you should absolutely go for it!

We spent a decent chunk of our time in Custer.  Whether we stopped for a quick breakfast on the way to the lake, or drove through Custer State Park looking for the bison herds, it’s a town you’ll want to put on your South Dakota list too.

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South Dakota: The Badlands

Returning from South Dakota, I got the typical response at work.  After a number of years with family out in the midwest, I’m used to the typical response:

“South Dakota??  Why’d you go there?”

The obvious answer for me, is that I’m visiting family.  But, if I had to pick two words to convince you to go…

Natural beauty.

The depth of the Black Hills landscape is really something to admire, and you have to be there in person to truly appreciate it.  Unique even for South Dakota’s varied landscape, Badlands National Park offers incredible scenery and a great look at some of the geological factors at play on earth.  This was one of the first places we explored on this trip!

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Peru: Machu Picchu

When I told people I was planning a trip to Peru, the next question was inevitably, “Are you going to Machu Picchu?” Or for some:  “There’s that famous mountain with all the ruins on it in Peru, right?”

Well OF COURSE I’m going to Machu Picchu!  It’s only one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, one of Peru’s (and arguably one of South America’s/the world’s) most well known ancient sites, it’s surrounded by beautiful rain forests and mountains, and it’s covered in ancient ruins!  Plus, people still don’t quite know what Machu Picchu was for, which is awesome!  I love finding little pockets of mystery that still exist in this hyperconnected world, it keeps your imagination going.

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