Mt. Rushmore, Custer and the Badlands, SD 2004
Highlights (i.e. best things to do, memorable moments, etc.)
When you live in Minnesota, your impression of South Dakota can often be one of expansive, boring farmlands. This could not be further from the truth. The state is divided between landscapes that look like they could be from another planet and rich, deep green forests.
While visiting South Dakota, you could keep yourself busy for days while visiting tacky Roadside America sights like the Mitchell Corn Palace or Wall Drug, or historical monuments like Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse, or historical recreations like Deadwood and Native American museums. Outdoor enthusiasts will be very pleased to see the challenging trails in Custer National Park and the abundant wildlife throughout the forests. Kids will love climbing Harney's Peak to see the Black Hills from up high and will be amazed by the wonderous landscape of the Badlands. There really is something for everyone in South Dakota.
We took our trip in September of 2004, which is truly one of the best times to visit. The weather is more mild than in the summer, the leaves have begun to change, and children have gone back to school. You will find great weather, beautiful scenery, and no long lines. If you are staying in Keystone, I would recommend making your hotel reservations in advance because, during the weekends, the hotels can fill up quickly, and can even be overbooked (see my Travelodge/Holiday Inn Express entries).
Best Way to Get Around (i.e. walking, driving, taxis, public transportation etc.)
Since there is no real major city in the state, it is best to either fly into Cedar Rapids or Pierre and rent a car or just drive into the state, like we did from Minnesota. The best part about driving is that you can stop by neat roadside attractions that you otherwise wouldn't be able to see.