After taking Amtrak through the Rocky Mountains to Salt Lake City, driving through Logan Canyon on the way to the Tetons, spending several days in the Tetons and Yellowstone, we left for the Black Hills.
After visiting Devil's Tower in eastern Wyoming which was awesome, we drove into South Dakota via Spearfish Canyon. After driving through Logan Canyon in Utah and Shell Canyon in Wyoming, we found Spearfish to be lovely, but not as spectacular. Due to the drought the waterfalls were barely flowing.
Our first stop was Deadwood which was hosting a special event, Cool Music NIghts. The town was overflowing with people enjoying concerts and drinking lots of beer. We opted to take a quick walk through the main part of town and to visit Mt. Moriah Cemetery and then to move on. We don't gamble.
We drove to our "home" for three nights, The Mountains to Prairies B&B right in the town of Hill City. This proved to be a wonderfully located base for our stay in the hills. Sam and Linda were wonderful hosts, and the accommodations were cozy and comfortable.
One of our main goals of the entire road trip was to visit the Badlands, which was a two hour drive from Hill City. On the way, one of the tires on our rental developed a bulge which began to crack, so we had to detour back to Rapid City and swap cars. Avis was great. We only lost about an hour.
Back on the road, we opted to visit Wall Drug first since we were in the heat of the middle of the day. I was prepared for a honky tonk type place and found it to be better than I expected. Yes, it is a tourist trap, but we did enjoy the air conditioning and the blackberry shakes.
The Wounded Knee museum was a few blocks away and well worth a visit. Heartbreakingly informative.
Next, we visited the Prairie Homestead where we saw the actual sod home of a homesteading family with a prairie dog town on site.
Finally, we drove through the eastern entrance of the Badlands.
This was truly a highlight of our entire trip. The views were breathtaking, and we spent several hours driving and hiking through.
The sunset was amazing, unlike any we had ever seen before. The red glow was spectacular. We took soooo many pictures.
We started the next day by visiting Mount Rushmore in the morning light. The Presidential Trail provided wonderful views and photo opportunities. After Mount Rushmore, we toured Custer State Park, which we enjoyed just as much as Yellowstone. The walk around Sylvan Lake was a little challenging in the middle and required some rock scrambling but was well worth the effort. Driving Needles Highway was fun, and we enjoyed the views and the tunnels. After eating bison burgers at the State Game Lodge, we drove Iron Mountain Road with more tunnels, piggyback bridges, and great views of Mount Rushmore. Note: the drive can be challenging. We passed one car that was hanging precariously off the road. Luckily the driver and passenger were fine, but the passenger had to exit the car by crawling out through the driver's side!
The food was the best of the trip so far. The breakfast at the B&B was delicious.
We had dinner at the Alpine Inn (famous for its filet mignon) one night, and dinner at Desperados the next night. Both were good, but we really enjoyed the steaks, mashed potatoes and homemade baked beans at Desperados.
On to Casper, Wyoming.