Stop and enjoy the wide open space. It's a flat endless landscape broken up with amazing lunar-like buttes formed from years of erosion continuing until this day.
Fondest memory: On my first pass through South Dakota in 1994:
We had a long drive from Colorado which was made longer by a tire blowout. We enjoyed the prairie dogs as we put on the doughnut spare, but had to drive way out of our way to get a new tire. The old one was totally shot. The drive up through Custer State Park was magnificent with wild buffalo everywhere, but I had neglected to fill up the gas tank and we were precariously low on fuel. So, couldn't really stop to enjoy it as much as we should have. With the tire ordeal, it was late anyway. We didn't get to the Cedar Pass Campground at Badlands until midnight, starving and exhausted. We hastily set up the tent and ate something equally fast. It was a clear dry night, so we slept with the fly off the tent and its mesh ceiling afforded the most unbelievable views of a meteor shower we were blessed with. As tired as we were, we couldn't sleep. It was magical. We eventually passed out with smiles on our faces. Sometimes things that don't work out as planned, work out just fine.
Favorite thing: Along interstate 90 and 29 are Info centers. Not all rest stops are info centers. The info centers are manned from may to sept and have lots of brochues of sites to see. The distinctive thing about SD rest stops are the Artist style Teepees.
I hope this map is helpful is locating some of the best spots to enjoy the monument and hopefull help you map out where you want to go to get the best photograph.
Mount Rushmore National Momument
13000 Highway 244
Building 31, Suite1
Keystone, SD 57751
Visitor Information Recorded Message
South Dakota along with Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska are mainly farming and this is picture shows our wealth. This picture happened to be taken just over the border in Minnesota but it could be any one of the farm belt states.
When farmers or grain elevators run out of storage space, the corn is piled many feet deep until they can get enough train cars or trucks to haul it out to the processing plants. The newest use for this yellow gold is to distill it for ethonal for mixing with gasoline. The byproducts are also sold as animal feed.
The drive on Highway 85A through Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore. Stop at the Custer State Game Lodge for lunch. And don't miss the buffalo in the park! Along the way on 85A you'll cross pig-tail bridges made from huge pine logs and drive through tunnels that were carefully planned to frame the Four Faces. You may see some wildlife, too, usually bison but often deer or antelope, a.k.a. wapiti as well.
Fondest memory: The people. I grew up in South Dakota, but have lived away from it for years. What I notice most when I return is how helpful people are there, quite unlike urbanized America. This alone makes the state worth visiting.
visit Custer State Park. It is the place where they made the film Dances With Wolves. You will feel like you are back in time, when the buffalo roamed the flats of northern america.
More info: South Dakota State Parks:
Fondest memory: Shown here is the view looking across the Missouri River. Driving across this state really gives you an appreciation for how much open space there is there. The rolling hills that seem to stretch on forever and open ranges with occasional ranches and farm animals is really relaxing to see as you drive along.
This epic sculpture features the faces of four exalted American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. South Dakota's Black Hills provide the backdrop for Mount Rushmore, the world's greatest mountain carving. These 60-foot high faces, 500 feet up, look out over a setting of pine, spruce, birch, and aspen in the clear western air.
Sculptor Gutzon Borglum began drilling into the 5,725-foot mountain in 1927. Creation of the Shrine of Democracy took 14 years and cost a mere $1 million, though it's now deemed priceless.
Throughout 1998, Mount Rushmore National Memorial celebrated the culmination of a multi-million dollar public-private partnership project to improve visitor facilities at the memorial. The new Lincoln Borglum Museum explores the stories behind the making of Mount Rushmore.
The Avenue of Flags leads from the Concession Building to the Grandview Terrace. The flags of the 56 states and territories again fly below the memorial. The avenue provides direct and easy access to the Grandview Terrace and Presidential Trail, a half-mile walking trail that offers spectacular views of the mountain sculpture.
The memorial offers interpretive programs, exhibits and a film at the Lincoln Borglum Museum. Rangers provide interpretive walks and talks, including the Evening Sculpture Lighting Ceremony. The lighting program takes place at approximately 9 p.m. nightly (May-September) in the park's amphitheater. The amphitheater is fully accessible via the Avenue of Flags to elevators at the museum.
Other programs being offered include guided walks to the Sculptor's Studio, Presidential Trail walks, talks on the Grandview Terrace, afternoon children's activities and studio talks.
Favorite thing: Make a trip through Badlands National Park. To get there take the Interstate 90 from Rapid City to the east. After half an hour you will see the Badlands exit. A highway leads all the way through the park. It´s rough landscape with canyons, hills and sandstone. Pretty nice. The road goes on top of a plateau and winds down into the canyons after a few miles. There are also some interesting hiking routes through the park. You can do the fast version of a visit by just stopping at some viewpoints and continue your journey out of the park after two hours or you can take some time and spend a whole day in the Badlands. I would prefer the second alternative!
Favorite thing: I really enjoyed the Black Hills...it was very nice driving through the area! We stopped in Deadwood as well. Very unique little town with a lot of history. There's a musuem there in the center of town that is very interesting to visit. Lots of things on Wild Bill Hitchcock, as well as other interesting historical items.
We visited most of the state except the North-East area. It's big and you shouldn't be afraid of driving distances.........
SIOUX FALLS the biggest city of the state and one of the largest in the area is a pleasant place to go, especially the park adjacent to the 'falls' which are actually very small. There's a free observation tower you can go to (elevator) for an aerial view of the site. You'll find in Sioux Falls all kind of shopping and services. Then enjoy it here because if you find to find anything big west of the city...you'll have to wait until Rapid City (350 miles/570 km away).
North of Sioux City...about half an hour from town, I highly recommend a place called DEVIL'S GULCH. It's an historic state park with very beautiful views, scenic river..etc.etc.. It's just north of a village called Garreston, not very very well marked.
MITCHELL is the town where is located the world famous CORN PALACE which is definitively great !!! Ok it's a piece of kitsch but look inside what the artists did. It's really great. There's nothing else of interest in town.
At this time we got out of the highway and took the state road 34 going to the capital Pierre. If you want to be on a 'desert' road, all by yourself for miles and miles, surrounded by fields and wildlife (deers), with beautiful views of the Missouri river, then do this road !!!!!
PIERRE the capital is nothing but a capital. But but but the State Capitol is very very beautiful and worth to spot.
BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK is a 'must go' if you like 'lunar' sceneries, very unusual. It's wild and empty, full of silence, except maybe the very strong wind we got when we were there. This Natl.Park is not that much known but I would highly recommend it to anyone, and it's on the main Interstate highway, no big detour.
The BLACK HILLS area being the most touristic part of South Dakota is of course a place to go. That's anyway the only place where we really saw packs of tourists, especially around the world famous MOUNT RUSHMORE which is not necessary to describe. Still I would say it's one of the world wonders !!! So much work have been done to create this monument. And when we look at the SITTING BULL monument currently under construction (I mean sculpture...) it will look even bigger.
All roads around CUSTER, which is the main village in the area and by the way very beautiful with great setting, all roads are great. Especially the ones going to the Mt Rushmore, winding with lots of tunnels (nice views of the monument). The CUSTER STATE PARK is the place to go (early morning is better) to spot wildlife, plenty of bisons and smaller animals like prairie dogs (very funny).
Have a stop at HOT SPRINGS if you are into thermal bathing. The famous Evil's Plunge swimming pool is located there, with naturally warm water.
To visit an old gold mine, go to Keystone area, which is the most touristic village of the Rushmore monument area. Also next to LEAD are mines to visit.
Around RAPID CITY there are a lot of tourist attractions, such as animal parks (Snake Park is great), amusement parks, children places...etc..etc..You can easily spend a week here without being bored.
Having stopped in BELLE FOURCHE (no interest except cheap and nice motel), we drove US85 north on the way to North Dakota, boring and uncrowded road, but scenic if you like fields and farms.
Fondest memory: BADLANDS NATL PARK is unbelievable ! (PICTURED here)
Get to know Badlands National Park
Fondest memory: ****Stargazing in Badlands National Park****is absolutely AMAZING! I cannot describe the beauty. You can see the stripe of the Milky Way against the universe and there are more shooting stars than you can believe. Each shooting star was a different fiery color. If you get a chance, go to the evening ranger talk. You can listen to history and facts about the park while watching nature's fireworks. For more Badlands pics, see my Badlands travelogue to the right.
Favorite thing: There is plenty of hiking and driving to do here. Much to see like you've never seen. Many local artists have come here to gain spiritual guidance and create beautiful pieces of art. One of my favorite artists are Daniel Long Soldier, Oglala Sioux tribe.
I remember driving through the desert and seeing signs for Wall Drug Store. The signs went on for miles and miles. When we got there, it was a real touristy place. Is it still there?
It seems it is still there and has grown tremendously.
Wall Drug. Wall,SD. Five blocks of stuff. All of it for the tourists. After you have seen all the stuff. Go south out of town, and visit the Bad Lands. That is the western end of it but if that is all you get to see it is worth it. A ticket is for a car load and is good for a week. So if you come back from Rapid City, drive the rest of the Park for free the same week.
Fondest memory: Open spaces, not too many people, no polution,
The Radisson Hotel Rapid City is located in the city's historic downtown, an easy walk to the main...more
Stayed here 3 nights toward the end of September, 2010 on business. It is very convenient to...more
100 Pine Crest Lane, Box 320, Deadwood, South Dakota, 57732, United States
Good for: Families