When driving between the Badlands and the Black Hills, forget Interstate 90, and use Highway 44 between Hermosa and Scenic instead. There's very little traffic, the road is splendid, and the views of the rolling prairies with their tall grasses and the Badland buttes are unparalleled. To my way of thinking, it's one of the great drives in the US, but very, very few people ever do it.
Ghost towns are such a big part of the history in the American West.... small towns that were once thriving due to economy (resorts, mines, railroads, industries, etc.) that are no longer thriving in that way and have as their greater part a significant number of abandoned remains.
At "Four Mile Ghost Town" you can tour the historic town, stagecoach waterhole and stockade where you can touch the artifacts and feel the atmosphere. This ghost town is year round but hours vary. Four miles west of Custer.
South Dakota has a lot of Indian reservations. I drove through one north of Pierre, just across the Missouri river. I don´t know the name anymore. But don´t expect to see too much. It just looks like normal farmland.
Ski/Snowboard Crow Peak in the winter, or hike it during the summer. It is a beautiful area just outside of Spearfish, SD. This is a picture of my cousin, his friend, and myself getting ready for the descent of Crow Peak in December.
Jewel Cave National Monument - Jewel Cave also has a nice tour, but there isn't much else to the park. Of course, standing in the parking lot staring at the beauty of the Black Hills is a good time in itself. See my Hill City, South Dakota page for more.
Geographic Center of the United States - The geographic center of the United States is about an hour north of Spearfish. A sign warns of the turn, and a little drive leads to a parking lot. One can walk up a hill and have a nice view of miles of prairie grassland. A sign describes the point and mentions that the location of this spot changed dramatically when Alaska and Hawaii were added to the country. There is nothing else to see or do at this spot, and I don't describe it on any of the city pages.
Take the 30 mile drive through the Badlands National Monument. Its worth the time to see the view. I drove into it at night not exactly knowing where I was and the huge clay sculptures were kinda scary at first. But at sunrise, the Badlands has beautiful purple, pink and orange hues that reflect off of them.
Wall Drug is a famous tourist trap off I-90 25 miles east of Rapid City. It is an old fashioned western drug store. But it is catered to tourist. This is drug store has billboards on I-90 in Montana, Wyoming, and Minnesota. It also has a famous bumper sticker 'Where the heck is Wall Drug'
Maybe I should call this 'off the beaten path' but we almost didn't stop in Wall, South Dakota but we were so glad that we did. We saw signs on the highway for Wall Drug in South Dakota clear back in Wyoming! We thought that a bit odd...advertise for a drug store over 4 hours away! And as we got closer and closer there were more and more signs. You'd have to see it to believe it but when I say they had a lot of signs, I mean they had A LOT of signs. So we stopped. Wall was the cutest little town. There were restaurants and shops and of course Wall Drug which was really a little shopping plaza. It was a nice stop and we had lunch there and gambled a bit before getting back on the road. We suggest it to anyone travelling through!
if you like to collect rocks as much as I do Take highway 44 to the west side of the Missouri River, Walk south on the banks of the river and keep your eyes peeled for some very unusual calcite crystals.
Storybook Land and The Land of Oz in Aberdeen. From the brochure, 'Storybook Land is an enchanted land of makebelieve and fun. Families will experience a world of imagination capturing all the myth and magic of your favorite nursery rhymes from Humpty Dumpty to Hickory Dickory Dock. Slide down Jack and Jill's hill or visit Goldilocks and the Three Bears.' There is no admission and the park has more slides in one place than anywhere I have ever visited. My two year old loved it there. Located in Wylie Park There is a lake, camping, swimming pool, and a zoo.
Spirit Mound northwest of Vermillion, visited by Lewis and Clark. The local Indians believed it was inhabited by little people, mischevious evil spirits. Their belief is not just a thing of the past.
My friend told me about the time he was doing a sweatlodge. All the hot rocks were in the lodge and the people were in the lodge, ready for the water to make the steam to cleanse and purify their bodies and spirits. The water was in a five gallon bucket about three quarters full outside the lodge. It had been blessed and my friend was just ready to hand the water in when a dog came up to it and started to drink it. He drank and drank and drank. My friend swore that dog drank the whole thing and then began to puke. He swore to me that he saw a little man pop out of that dogs mouth and scurry away into the bushes.
Fact or fiction the story also shows how they feel about their dogs, protectors of their spirits.
Badlands National Park - in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest, protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. The Badlands Wilderness Area covers 64,000 acres and is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America. The Stronghold Unit is co-managed with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances. Established as Badlands National Monument in 1939, the area was redesignated 'National Park' in 1978. Over 11,000 years of human history pale to the ages old paleontological resources. Badlands National Park contains the world's richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating 23 to 35 million years old. The evolution of mammal species such as the horse, sheep, rhinoceros and pig can be studied in the Badlands formations.
Mobridge, SD on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation is one of the spots that claim to be the final resting place of the Lakota Leader, Sitting Bull. There is a monument to Sitting Bull on a scenic overlook on the banks of Lake Oahe (a wide spot on the Missouri River). If you want to go to Mobridge, it is on Highway 12 in the North Central South Dakota.
The petrified wood park in Lemmon, South Dakota. The farmers around the town of Lemmon had an abundance of petrified wood in their fields, so someone had the idea to create castles and towers and all kinds of 'art' out of it in the town's central park. Okay, it doesn't really sound that exciting, and it's not if you are an adult, but please, don't let me be the only person who drove miles out of his way to see this stuff! People who enjoy large balls of twine and two-headed calves will really like this, I guarantee it.
Lemmon is on South Dakota's border with North Dakota in the middle of the state.
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