The Black Hills of South Dakota

  20150816_140246 We headed to The Black Hills of South Dakota for one reason and one reason ONLY, Mount Rushmore!  I think it’s written into law that you cannot take a trip around the US and not see Rushmore!  So we headed out to do just that! We spent 9 days in Custer, SD as our home base.

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The main drag.
The family owned market, where the owner showed the girls how to stock the produce.
The family owned market, where the owner showed the girls how to stock the produce.  We loved this store, and walked to it almost everyday!

It was so much more than we expected it to be!  There was so much more to do and see then just Rushmore! It’s funny how a vacation can sneak up on you right smack dab in the middle of a year long RV trip, but that’s how this place felt to us; a surprise vacation!  I highly recommend you visit The Black Hills! First, the place we stayed.  It was a tiny little RV park, right on the edge of the tiny town of Custer, where you could walk to the quaint neighborhood market.

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This was the “front office” where the manager, a feisty old lady lived full time, and held weekly potlucks where guests and locals would all hangout and talk and play corn hole around a fire. If we ever own and RV park, weekly pot lucks will definitely be on the schedule!
The kids even met some friends on potluck nights!
The kids even met some friends on potluck nights!
The spaces were crazy tight, but at least we were on the end.
The spaces were crazy tight, but at least we were on the end.

So just to name a few of the sights and things to do in the area.. Custer Sate Park was so big and had so much going on in way of wildlife tours, ranger talks, campgrounds, jr ranger programs, etc. that it’s much more comparable to a national park, then most state parks!

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Buffalo herd in the park.
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Burros, aka Wild Donkeys. So cute how all the mamas had a baby that was its exact twin!
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Feeding the burros apples.
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Reconstructed fort that trappers illegally built on Native American land at the time.
This was a hard booklet to complete!  Good thing we had 9 days to do it!  Jr Rangers once again!
This was a hard booklet to complete! Good thing we had 9 days to do it! Jr Rangers once again!

Also not too far away is The Badlands National Park!  Named for its impossible terrain to cross, and a very cool sight to see….and climb on!  We saw loads of big horn sheep and rabbits, and prairie dogs during our day in the park!

Right before we took this picture I fell out of the truck racing to see the big horn sheep herd that was walking near our parking spot.  And I mean I fell bad!  The rest of the day I walked around with a scratched up leg and bum.
Right before we took this picture I fell out of the truck racing to see the big horn sheep herd that was walking near our parking spot. And I mean I fell bad! The rest of the day I walked around with a scratched up leg and bum.
But I got the shot!
But I got the shot!
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Look Mama! I climb too!
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So fun to climb on!

20150816_171251 On our way back from The Bad Lands, we stopped at Wall Drug.  It’s one of those places that becomes famous cause it was close to something cool, before that thing was cool, and it gives out free water.  That was important in this landscape way back when.  Wall Drug is just as crazy and over the top as we expected.  Our only surprise was that we actually liked it!

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We had lunch and played and headed back on the 1.5 hour drive back to Custer.

20150816_141001 20150816_140451 So there were also a couple of caves in the area to see as well!  Jewel cave is a National Monument and Wind Cave is a National Park.  Both were less then 30 minutes away from us!

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Very rare “Box Work” formation in Wind Cave.
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Ranger led talk was great and gave us lots on information on the family that first ran tours in the cave!

 

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Jewel cave, where we just popped into one of the rooms, cause Mama had all the littles by herself this day.
On a hike.
On a hike.

And then of course, there was Mt Rushmore!

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Each eye is 16ft wide, and Gorge Washington’s nose is 20ft long!
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We walked the Presidential Trail all around the monument.
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We had a great day walking the trail, learning about the monument and the sculpture, including the tools that were used to make Mt Rushmore. And we also randomly caught a ranger talk for kids on how to set up a tee pee.
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Our impression? It’s smaller than we thought. Just kidding. It’s amazing! And just the right size! Very well done national monument!
We left with a couple of not so new Jr Rangers too!
We left with a couple of not so new Jr Rangers too!

In addition to all these natural wonders, there is also a TON of tourist trap type places to visit!  We did ONE of them!  And only because I had planned to meet up with another fulltime RVing mom and her kids.  It was great to talk with a mom that is doing the same thing I am with my kids and she’s from Austin too!  And the kids did have fun at The Reptile House!

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You want to pet the alligator Jonah?

20150814_160844A lot of our time was spent just hanging out in Custer Stat Park, driving Needles Hwy, swimming, hiking, etc. 20150820_142207 20150820_135441 20150820_132347 It was a seriously sweet 9 days in a place we’d never been before!  I see us returning in the future and will think of it fondly until then.

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