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Black Hills portion of our road trip report

Oak Ridge, New...
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Black Hills portion of our road trip report

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.

Hill City is a central location for touring the Black Hills and less touristy than Custer and Keystone imo. Families with kids would probably enjoy the latter two more though.

On to Casper, Wyoming.

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: Black Hills portion of our road trip report

Thanks for posting a trip report of your time in the Black Hills. We too don't gamble but did enjoy the Adam's Museum and Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood. So glad you enjoyed Custer SP- it is a beautiful place and probably should be named a national park.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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2. Re: Black Hills portion of our road trip report

Great report, Ellie. I'm glad to hear that you found Custer SP just as wonderful as Yellowstone, even though you saw Yellowstone first. So many comment about being disappointed in Custer SP after seeing Yellowstone. I just think you can't compare the 2.

The Badlands are a true area icon, and I'm so glad your car troubles were resolved quickly so you could continue on your journey. I'm sure your pictures were amazing.

Interesting to read about the car hanging off the side of the road. I'm sure that was a scary sight, but it sounds like no one was hurt. The roads in the park do need to be driven slowly and carefully.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences. Your report will help others in their trip planning.

Oak Ridge, New...
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3. Re: Black Hills portion of our road trip report

South Dakota's Black Hills are a great destination with beautiful scenery and wonderful people. Next time we visit, we would like to see the bison roundup and some ghost towns. We will be back.

Dublin Ireland
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4. Re: Black Hills portion of our road trip report

I noted you said Iron Mountain Road was challenging, I am not great with heights and San Francisco posed driving issues for me, should I skip this portion? I will be there late October>

Pitman, New Jersey
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5. Re: Black Hills portion of our road trip report

I don't find Iron Mt. Rd. that bad, and I'm not a fan of heights at all. Yes, it is windy (visualize a corkscrew or a pig's trail), but there really isn't a feeling of being up high at all. If you take your time, I think you'll be fine.

Dublin Ireland
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6. Re: Black Hills portion of our road trip report

Thank you for taking the time to reply, I would really love to do Iron Mountain Road but when I read some comments I thought I might have to give it a miss.

I am going to go for it. Thanks again.

Pat Kirley

Oak Ridge, New...
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7. Re: Black Hills portion of our road trip report

Just make use of the many pullouts to see the views, so the driver can stay focused on the road. We don't know what caused the incident we saw. We took turns driving so neither one of us felt deprived of the beautiful views. I would drive it again in a heartbeat. Go for it.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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8. Re: Black Hills portion of our road trip report

My opinion is that it would be too bad to go to Custer SP and not drive the Iron Mountain Rd. There are some switchbacks but I do not recall anything being so harrowing that I felt worried by the driving. (I drove it by myself, in our van this past July.)

Suffolk, United...
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9. Re: Black Hills portion of our road trip report

Hi motorcar1

As a fellow "drive on the left" with a "gear lever" I can let you know that whilst agreeing with you about SF we coped well with the Iron Mountain road, taking it easy and pulling over for viewing. And we had a thunderstorm on the first part of it!!

Enjoy

10. Re: Black Hills portion of our road trip report

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