South Dakota

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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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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South Dakota: Hot Springs

So, what’s out there anyway?

First, get ready to do a lot of driving.  South Dakota, in a lot of ways, is your typical midwestern state.  Big.  Driving an hour or two to the next thing becomes commonplace.  Denver is 6 hours south of Hot Springs, South Dakota.  Guess where we flew into?

After Denver International Airport, the next closest is Minneapolis-St. Paul (at 7 hours driving), and then it’s even further.  You get used to the long drives pretty quickly, and the scenery in the Black Hills isn’t your typical corn field, corn field, cows, more corn fields.

We spent the whole time in the Black Hills region of South Dakota.  The area is gorgeous, and it’s easy to fall in love with the rolling hills, covered in a blanket of dark spruce.  Though they aren’t technically black, this is where the area got its name.  Against the neverending grasslands to the east, and big sky country to the west, South Dakota is right behind Route 66 as far as classic roadtrips.

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