On our second day out with the crew from the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs (see previous blogs: It’s the same mouse! and There’s a Jackalope in the backyard), we managed to see a bit more of the Black Hills of South Dakota.
First stop was Wind Cave National Park.
The National Park service run a number of cave tours including The Garden of Eden and Fairgrounds tours – both are about an hour and a half in duration. The drawcards are cave formations known as boxwork and cave popcorn.
I did the Fairgrounds Tour and it was excellent. It cost $12 back in 2017 and despite it being categorised as ‘strenous’ it was perfectly do-able for an average person. Just watch your footing as it gets a bit slippery in the caves.
If you aren’t into cave tours, there is plenty to see above ground in the National Park too.
We carried on to Hill City where I had my first root beer float.
Let’s be honest – its not my favourite thing. Its effectively was a liquorice flavoured milkshake!
The main reason we were in Hill City was to visit the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research. Their museum chronicles the amazing paleontological excavations that the institute had undertaken over the years – which includes a T Rex called Stan!
Onward with a drive through Spearfish Canyon and Deadwood to Mt Rushmore
Literally a drive thru of Deadwood.
When questioned why we didn’t stop, the response was ‘it’s a bit touristy’.
Bear in mind we had spent quality time in Wall Drug the day before so I suppose we had exceeded the ‘super cheesy tourist’ threshold for one weekend.
But I just think we were running late.
When we reached Mt Rushmore at around 7pm, there was more concern that the restaurant had run out of buffalo stew, forget the 4 Presidents looking down on us from the hill side.
Just for the record, the buffalo stew served at the Mt Rushmore Memorial restaurant is legendary.
And they hadn’t run out. Phew.
Once that crisis was averted, we got a chance to look at the 4 presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
It was well timed in the end as we had got there as twilight was falling for some good pictures and it also wasn’t very busy.
It’s curious that there is a similar figure of the great Sioux warrior, Crazy Horse on top of his horse pointing in the direction of Mt Rushmore from an adjacent valley – but unfortunately the finances ran out and his face is now the only completed part.
We didn’t have the time to get to the Crazy Horse Memorial, but definitely something I want to go back and see in the future.
The Black Hills of South Dakota are a very special place –the scenery is amazing and it has so much history and culture connected with the area – we only scratched the surface really. So many places to visit and explore.
I really enjoyed my 2 weeks there back in 2017 – excavating at the Mammoth Site and all the places we visited and I would happily go back for a revisit once all this ‘Rona business gets resolved.
Hopefully it’ll be soon.
The buffalo stew is calling…..