South Dakota Trip Part 3 — The Badlands, Deadwood, Rapid City and Beyond…….

I have had the most difficult time getting myself to finish the posts for this particular “long haul”.  Why?  Well, I guess there are a couple of reasons…maybe a few. #1..this wasn’t the last trip we went on with my parents but it was our favorite.  We had so much fun.  And, now, Mom is gone, having passed away in February.  #2…back then all our photos were placed on discs and somehow one of the discs from this trip was corrupted and the photos were lost to us…so disappointing.  #3…I’ve had hopes of finding some that my folks took during this trip but haven’t been successful with that yet.  Anyway, it’s time to press forward.

The closest site seeing venture (and the most disappointing) to where we were camped in Sturgis, was Deadwood.  The town that is famous for being the place where Wild Bill Hickock was shot in the back is nothing but casinos and cheap souvenir shops.

Wild Bill original marker

They do have a sign outside the casino where the saloon that hosted Wild Bill’s demise once was.  The main attraction is the graveyard where Hickock is buried as well as Calamity Jane.

I found downtown Rapid City much more interesting.  It features museums, restaurants, shops and the Avenue of the Presidents which are life sized bronze statues of the former presidents placed throughout the city.  There were multiple shops featuring Native American art, jewelry and apparel. My absolute favorite shop was The Dakota Drum Company.  Native American drums are a popular item in all the gift shops in the area but I was so happy that I bought one at The Dakota Drum Company.  Not only was the quality superior but the prices were better as well.  All the hides are tanned by Native Americans living on the nearby reservations and all of the painting is done by Sonja Holy Eagle, the owner of the store. You can check out her store by clicking on the link.

Another day during our stay at Sturgis was spent visiting Badlands National Park.

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The Badlands have been a familiar setting for many western films shot through the years.

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These multicolored canyons make a spectacular back drop.

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This is dinosaur territory and we took a self-guided tour that followed a pathway featuring fossils still in the walls and floors of the canyon.

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The wildlife and vistas are plentiful.

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Our last tourist destination while in South Dakota was actually in Wyoming!  Devils Tower Monument was within an hours drive and well worth the trek.  It is a bit bizaare the manner in which it appears as there is nothing else like it around.

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It’s just sticking straight up in the middle of nothing and is easily recognizable from the movie “Close Encounters” (although I felt no desire to make a replica out of mashed potatoes ).

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There are many options for how to spend your visit including Ranger led hikes and rock climbing (yes, people climb straight up that thing).  We opted for the 1.3 mile hike around the perimeter of Devils Tower.

There were several other site seeing ventures we could have taken while staying in Sturgis.  It’s just a really great hub for that area of the country.  I loved South Dakota.  There was something very liberating feeling about those wide, open prairies.  It made me want to run through the grass and sing like Julie Andrews.  Only…..if I’d done that, I would have probably stepped in a hole created by this creature…….

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……….and snapped my leg!  And, of course, I can’t sing like Julie Andrews.

 So, we left South Dakota but were not finished seeing cool things.  More to come….

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