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#263036 - 08/30/13 01:40 PM Heading to South Dakota for a week - Suggestions?
RNewcomb Offline
Member

Registered: 04/19/12
Posts: 170
Loc: Iowa
My fiance and I are heading to South Dakota for a week. We're going to be camping in a tent in the Keystone area.

I've got all my gear ready to go, but we're not really going to be "roughing it" on this trip.

Does anyone have any suggestions for places to visit outside of the big ones, like Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Crystal Cavern, Devils Tower, Deadwood, the Badlands etc?

Rod

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#263038 - 08/30/13 02:27 PM Re: Heading to South Dakota for a week - Suggestions? [Re: RNewcomb]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6538
Loc: southern Cal
I flat out love the Black Hills! Mt Rushmore is obligatory,of course, since you are right there, camping in Keystone. I would add Custer State Park, especially the Needles area and Harney Peak. You will enjoy a drive through Spearfish Canyon, with a short stroll to Roughlock Falls thrown in...

For caves, I recommend Jewel Cave (world's third longest currently) and Wind Cave (world's sixth longest). Wind Cave has a delightful small campground... Many of the smaller commercial caves are kind of touristy, but Crystal Cave is pretty decent.

I would avoid Crazy Horse (get a good view from the highway) and Deadwood - both are tourist traps, but even worse is Keystone If the NPS ever establishes a "Tourist Trap National Monument", it would be Keystone, SD.....

I highly recommend The Mammoth Site, in Hot Springs - an absolutely amazing world class paleontological site, all enclosed in a nicely weather tight building - it is a great option for bad weather. Full disclosure - TMS is the reason I know something of the Black Hills - I have worked there the last thirteen July's as the crew chief for the dig crew. One of my jobs was to load up the gang on Sunday and take them through the region. At TMS, you will see the bones we have exposed in situ, along with a very fine, small museum. I could go on and on about TMS....

Are you bringing mountain bikes? The Mickelson Trail, running over 100 miles along the backbone of the Hills, is beautiful, especially the stretch from Dumont to either Deadwood or Mystic - both are downhill.

Take your day pack and vehicle and just explore. There are many charming back roads. This last July I finally took the gang to the top of Terry Peak, just outside Deadwood,and realized I had been missing a beautiful view all these years. I have never walked French Creek in Custer SP or any portion of the Centennial Trail.

Devil's Tower is fabulous - the easiest route is a moderate 5.6 and guides are available. Badlands is great! I am retired NPS, by the way, so naturally I recommend them.

For something you will never hear of, take highway 71 south from Hot Springs to Cascade Springs and Cascade Falls - great on a hot day. To go farther afield, spend some time around Ft Robinson State Park, just south in Nebraska.

I could go on,but this is enough for now. Love that country!
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Geezer in Chief

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#263044 - 08/30/13 04:07 PM Re: Heading to South Dakota for a week - Suggestions? [Re: RNewcomb]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
love that place. I gotta' go back soon.

places you need to see: the Black Hills, the Badlands, and Custer State Park. don't ignore the Badlands, they are much prettier than the name suggests.

good luck. drop by the Prairie Edge store when you are in Rapid City. lots of beautiful authentic indian art and artefacts.

Pete2


Edited by Pete (08/31/13 06:39 PM)

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#263071 - 08/31/13 02:36 AM Re: Heading to South Dakota for a week - Suggestions? [Re: RNewcomb]
nursetim Offline
Newbie

Registered: 08/29/06
Posts: 31
Loc: the last bastion of PHRASECENS...
We spent July 4th weekend in keystone, will never do so again. Didn't have a decent meal there. I recommend bear country usa, kitchy, but as close to wild life as we got. Reptile gardens was a blast, I highly recommend the reptile/crocagator show, very funny. Custer SD was nice as well as Custer state park. My stay in an old time hotel in Lead SD, about a mile from Deadwood. If we get back there we will stay in Rapid City as our base. Sturgis is worth a look as long as the rally is over.

We splurged on a helicopter tour, it was worth it for us. The wife recorded the entire flight.

We skipped going into Rushmore park, opting to take pictures from the road.

Have fun.
_________________________
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

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#263076 - 08/31/13 09:28 AM Re: Heading to South Dakota for a week - Suggestions? [Re: RNewcomb]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2147
Loc: Great Plains
All those suggestions are good. The Black Hills is the best part of SD IMO. If you have time, check out Deerfield. Very nice. Sheridan Lake is quite pretty and close to Rapid City. Terry Peak and Harney Peak are neat if you want to make the hike. IIRC the latter is the highest point in the US east of the Rockies.

The Badlands are very pretty. Best go later in the season when it isn't so hot. The really neat thing about SD is that in about 2 hours you can drive from flat out desert (Badlands) through grass/steplands, across open prairie, through river break country and right up into the mountains. Many different micro-climates and types of terrain.

If you head as far as the middle of the state, the Dam is pretty cool to see.

As Hikermor said the caves are a lot of fun. Beyond that it's dependent on your view of the tourist traps. They can be neat in a hokey way.

I was born in SD and have lived here all my 44 years. For the last almost 20 years I've lived in Sioux Falls, in the far eastern part of the state. Most of the people are in the east but the prettiest scenery is in the west.
_________________________
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#263077 - 08/31/13 09:30 AM Re: Heading to South Dakota for a week - Suggestions? [Re: RNewcomb]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2147
Loc: Great Plains
BTW, there are only a handful of decent restaurants in the western part of the state, and nearly all of them are in Rapid City. What restaurant culture we do have is mostly in the west (I'm a chef, btw).
_________________________
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#263079 - 08/31/13 11:26 AM Re: Heading to South Dakota for a week - Suggestions? [Re: Phaedrus]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6538
Loc: southern Cal
Oh, boy, let's talk about food. I recommend my "South Dakota diet" - buffalo burgers, rhubarb pie, and root beer floats. For RP You can't beat the Purple Pie Place in Custer. For all three, a perfect trifecta, patronize the Homestead, outside Crawford, NE, on the gravel road to the Hudson-Meng Buffalo Kill (another worthwhile attraction). You can do pretty well at Mt. Rushmore, although the BB I have had there were dry and crisp, a bit too much like hockey pucks, a common failing with buffalo.

I don't know what cuisine Phaedrus dishes up, but surely since he is in South Dakota, he can advise us on the proper ways of preparing buffalo. I have found that buffalo stew is a safe bet most places, and absolutely yummy!
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#263084 - 08/31/13 01:16 PM Re: Heading to South Dakota for a week - Suggestions? [Re: RNewcomb]
JPickett Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/03/12
Posts: 264
Loc: Missouri
Please, evem Talking abut food makes me gain weight!

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#263096 - 08/31/13 06:33 PM Re: Heading to South Dakota for a week - Suggestions? [Re: RNewcomb]
JBMat Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 745
Loc: NC
Went to SoDak once. I think it was closed. Not unlike France in August, I swear everyone was on vacation or something.

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#263097 - 08/31/13 06:43 PM Re: Heading to South Dakota for a week - Suggestions? [Re: RNewcomb]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
"Went to SoDak once. I think it was closed."

Hahahaha! I remember the first time I flew into the airport near Rapid City with my wife. we got off the plane, I stood on the tarmac and looked around - at nothing. it was barren and flat. it looked like a dump. I said to her "oh my goodness, what have you got us into this time?". but once we got rollin' we had a terrific time. it's not a place you go for food or restaurants. it's all about the Old West, the scenery and the outdoors.

cheers,
Pete2

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