Rapid City, Mt. Rushmore and Badlands

Published: June 2nd 2016
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We stayed in a great RV park called Heartland RV Park at Hermosa, SD that was really close to Mt. Rushmore. The owner was really nice and gave us several maps and suggestions for day trips. We spent extra time here because it was such a nice place and we didn't want to travel on Memorial Day weekend.

Our first day we went to Bear Country and Reptile Gardens. Bear Country was great and we actually went to it again on the weekend when Bonnie's granddaughter came to visit. The animals are loose in each of their areas in the park and we drove through to see all of them. The bears were really fun and were doing lots of entertaining things, like playing in the water, patrolling the gate openings, and scratching them selves on logs. There is also a place to see other animals in enclosures and baby bears that were really cute. I did not find the Reptile Gardens very interesting.

I really enjoyed the drive that we took through the badlands. There is a 35 mile loop road that takes you right through the badlands and was really worth the time it took. The area is amazing to see in person. We then went back to Wall the home of Wall Drug and all that entails. It is interesting how this attraction got its start during the depression. We ate lunch and then took in all the tourist spots. Spent a little money at the Black Hills Gold store on shinny things. My t-shirt collection is also growing on this trip.

We drove up the Iron Mountain Road to get the glimpse of Mt. Rushmore through the tunnels as we went through them on this road. Driving this road with all the switchbacks was an experience in itself. Beautiful scenery, but hard to take in while navigating the road. We went on to visit the Crazy Horse Mountain. It will be an amazing site when it is completed, but I don't think it will happen in my life time. It is crazy how long it has taken so far, but amazing that it has all been done with private money donations. We had a great buffet lunch in the dinning room and then took a less winding road back to Hermosa.

Bonnie's granddaughter Jade and her boyfriend Cody came down to visit on the weekend. It was great to spend some time with them. We went up to see Mt. Rushmore on Saturday and it was covered in fog and clouds. We waited around for several hours, had lunch and did some shopping in the gift shop. Finally it lifted for just a minute or two and everyone cheered. Still the pictures did not turn out very clear.

On Sunday we went up to Keystone to do the zip line but they weren't open yet so we went back up to Mt. Rushmore since it was a clear day. The mountain is unbelievable. I've seen it in pictures but it is so much more in person. We then went back to Keystone and decided to ride the tram up the mountain and then do the alpine slide down instead of the zip line. You sit on these sled like cars and can control your speed with a center lever. I came down pretty slow, but if I could do it again I would go faster now that I know what to expect.

We spent some down time here watching movies and doing some crafts. We had lots of thunderstorms with lots of and some small hail. Every day would start out clear blue sky and then the clouds would come over from the Black Hills. I was doing lots of praying that the hail did not get any bigger. I found this part of South Dakota to have a special beauty all its own.

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