By Oscar Wolfe
Right before school started, my family decided to go on a week long road trip to South Dakota. I honestly wasn’t too excited about spending an entire day in the car just to see four presidents’ heads carved into a mountain. But there’s actually a ton to do in South Dakota! I would most certainly suggest it for a fun summer vacation. Here are the best things that we did in South Dakota (not in order of best to worst).
1. Badlands National Park
The Badlands was probably my favorite part of the trip. We stayed at Circle View Guest Ranch where we collected eggs from the chicken coop and road on a tractor, which was really fun. We hiked through the Badlands. At some points, we were hiking straight up. Once, we had to turn around completely because my dad thought it was too dangerous. It was tons and tons of rocks as far as the eye could see.
2. Mount Rushmore
Obviously we had to go to Mount Rushmore. It really is spectacular, but I don’t know if you could really spend more than two hours there. There was a short hike and a restaurant and gift shop. But other than that, not much. If I were to pick the people on Mount Rushmore, they would be Alexander Hamilton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln.
3. Wind Cave National Park
The Wind Cave in the Black Hills is apparently the oldest known cave. We went on a 1 ½ hour tour of the enormous cave. It was huge and it got me thinking about the world millions of years ago. There were no stalactites or stalagmites or anything like that. However, Wind Cave has the largest amount of boxwork in the world, which is a rare natural occurrence that looks like tons of strings spattered all around.
4. Custer State Park
Buffalo! They were all over Custer State Park. There were so many animals and hikes and nature-y things to do! If you add up the interesting animals we saw in the Badlands and in Custer, we saw mountain goats, buffalo, prairie dogs, coyotes, rams, elk, and more. We also rode horses at the Blue Bell Stables. Mine was named Oscar! The dudes said that I was the first Oscar to ride Oscar.
5. Big Thunder Gold Mine
Big Thunder Gold Mine is pretty much what it sounds like. We went on a tour of an abandoned mine and then panned for gold. I actually got some gold, which was very surprising, and my brother got some too. Not enough to pay for our pizza lunch, but overall, it was worthwhile.
6. Wall Drug
Even walking in to Wall Drug Store knowing that it was the biggest tourist trap in South Dakota, it was still fun. There was a lot to see, and after hours of driving past open land, it was a nice way to find out that there was civilization in South Dakota. Beyond all the souvenirs, they had tons and tons of historic photos on the walls. They even had two of Sitting Bull’s signatures!
Even though it was an eight hour drive, South Dakota was really great. Seeing the landscape change as we drove really helped me understand the enormity of our country.