Two years ago (wow, I can’t believe it was that long ago!) my travel buddy, Irene, and I went on a long weekend to see North and South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. It was our first time to that area of the country, and I couldn’t be more excited. There is something about the apprehension of a trip when you have no expectations. I mean, one of the best feelings! This trip surpassed anything I could have imagined.

The Itineraryscreen-shot-2016-10-13-at-12-23-43-pm

  • Stay: The Bullock Hotel, Deadwood, SD. The Wild West come to life!
  • Saturday: Fly into Rapid City. Explored South Dakota’s Black Hills and Deadwood
  • Sunday: Roadtrip through the Badlands to Medora, ND, for lunch before heading over to Makoshika State Park in MT to look for dinosaurs
  • Monday: Visit Devil’s Tower in WY before heading back to the airport in Rapid City

A Closer Look Into South Dakota

Even upon arriving at the airport, the landscape was breathtaking. The world was open, the air was fresh, and adventure was calling. We rented a car, which was a 10-15 minutes shuttle ride away.

An interesting tip is that all car rentals from Rapid City have a fee for additional miles. You can’t rent for a flat rate in that area because there is so much space to cover. Pay attention to this for costs!

img_2897Our first planned stop was to visit Mt. Rushmore and see a buffalo. For my SD experience, I really wanted to see both of these things. I truly believe in my travel philosophy; you have to have a plan when you travel. You have to know what you want to accomplish, but you cannot be too strict. You’ll never know what could come up! Case in point, as we were driving from the airport, we saw a sign for “Red Ass Wine.” I mean, a winery in South Dakota! 1. Who would have thought and 2. how can you say no?!

The winery (Prairie Berry) was a fun stop. Red Ass Wine was a rhubarb wine. I knew of rhubarb, but I had never had it. The wine at this winery was made from a variety of berries and fruit; it wasn’t traditional grape wine. We really enjoyed it and spent a good amount of time drinking another glass with lunch. The trip was already a success.

Mt. Rushmore

The rest of the afternoon was spent driving to Mt. Rushmore. img_2894We saw img_2892buffalo and order rhubarb pie from Purple Pie Place on the way. (Road Food recommended them on one of my favorite podcasts Travel with Rick Steves). Seeing buffalo was amazing! I can’t imagine what it was like to be a pioneer or cowboy moving West in the mid-1800s when buffalo numbered about 35 million. Today’s number is closer to 400,000. We drove around forever trying to find them. We gave up and decided to make our way to Mt. Rushmore – that’s when we saw them! One even walked right by our car.

buffalo for miles

Look at all of them! And we weren’t even at a zoo!

img_2915

He got so close…and yes, I was scared he was going to ram into the car.

We finally arrived shortly before the sunset, and it was even more awesome than I expected that it would be! Mount Rushmore is an enormous sculpture made during the Great Depression. It features faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. As a history fanatic, it was overwhelming to see something in person I had dreamed of seeing since I was a kid. We were there through dark so we got to see it lit up, as well.

img_2930

There it is! Such an amazing feeling to actually be there.

img_2939

Irene and I with the NY state monument. We had both recently moved from the Big Apple.

Goodnight from Deadwood

img_2948Next stop was to check into the historic Bullock Hotel in Deadwood. What a cool place to stay! Gambling is legal (brothels didn’t close until the 1980s), so there is a small casino downstairs. We were exhausted after such a long day, so it was time to find some food. Based on Yelp ratings, we went to dinner at a close hotel. Let’s just put it this way,  you can’t expect much from a culinary perspective in Deadwood. After that, we decided to call it a night. We had an early morning for our Badlands road trip in the morning and prayed we wouldn’t be woken by a ghost…

More to come on the next #tbt post! Until then, rosy wanderings!