We decided to stay closer to home this summer. We had never been to Wyoming or South Dakota and heard it was only a six or seven hour drive. So off we went in July. Cheyenne had the Frontier Days going on at the end of July. We planned to stop to see the free air show by the Airforce Thunderbirds. Only 1 1/2 hours from Denver, we got there early and parked down the road from the community college due to little ears. If you want the true fly over experience -- park in the Community College parking lot. You get the full boom each time the planes fly over. You win either way.
Off to Hill City, South Dakota where we were calling it home base. Centrally located to all the sites, Hill City is a quaint town with stores, restaurants, a dinosaur museum and a gun battle every night.
We mapped out our route and hit the road the next morning. First stop - Roo Ranch. You can get your photo taken with a baby kangaroo - or joey. You can walk through the ranch and pet kankaroos and see a variety of diffent types of Roos and learn through their brief tour of the ranch.
Off to Deadwood, SD for our Harley T-shirts. About an hour north, Deadwood has their rodeo the end of July too. The town has great character, lots of shops and restaurants.
Next, Wall Drug at Wall, SD. Long drive - but if you're looking for souvenirs -- this is your place! Originally designed to bring travelers in by offering "free ice water" -- they still provide free ice water and so much more. It is endless souvenirs, cowboy boots, food, drink, trinkets, T-shirts and a T-rex that spits smoke -- seriously.
Back to Rapid City, SD for Bear Country, USA. Basically a drive thru zoo -- rain or shine the animals are out. You see buffalo, elk, artic wolves, mountain lions, deer and bears. They also have Babyland with baby animals of all sorts. The best was the baby bears climbing and pushing each other out of a tree. We could have watched that for hours!
Next to the Cosmo Spot. This little spot was discovered by two college boys who were looking to build a cabin. Things were odd here, and they thought they would share it. Water runs uphill. Balls roll uphill. You lean over and don't fall. It's freaky, its cheap and it was fun! The kids wanted to take a second tour.
Off to Mt. Rushmore. Surprisingly not very crowded for summer, we parked at the end above ground parking garage - which is steps from the entrance. The site is amazing! There are bookstores, restaurants, rangers with tons of information and a hiking trail. At night they have a lighting ceremony. It starts about 9 pm with a presentation by a ranger and a video. About 9:30 they light up the hill -- WOW!
Down below is Keystone, SD. They too have lots of little T-shirt shops, restaurants and souvenirs.
All pooped out -- we headed back to the hotel at 10 pm. What a day!
Next morning, we head to Bedrock, SD. Yes, that is where Fred and Wilma Flintstone and the gang reside. You have the little houses, funky cars and all the characters. There is a movie theater that plays Flintstone cartoons so the kids know what your laughing about. They even have a large playground for the kids to play. You can take a ride on a true Flintstone car! And don't miss the gift shop.
We departed south through Custer State Park to drive the Wilderness Loop. Here is home to 1500 buffalo. When you pay your entrance fee, the ranger will let you know the last sightings to help you locate the buffalo. Let me tell you -- you won't need much help! They are huge and sometimes right by the road! We saw three different herds.
From there we returned to Denver. Make sure you have food and drink packed for the return drive - there was nothing for 200 miles! Kids were getting a little cranky -- but we made it!
We only took three days to see South Dakota -- and we didn't even get to the caverns or Devil's Tower. Its a fun trip for the entire family and its close to home. Have an adventure and visit South Dakota!