Ron Stern | Global Gumshoe
Rapid City, S.D. is one of those vacation destinations that may not be high on everyone’s bucket list, but as my wife and I discovered on a recent three-day trip, the town surrounded by the Black Hills is packed with fun and interesting adventures. So much so, in fact, that three days is hardly enough to see and do everything available to visitors.
Rapid City serves as a jumping off point for the Black Hills National Forest and Badlands, home to the famous Mt. Rushmore. The presidential monument is more impressive in person than in photos. We went in the late afternoon, and at night they have a patriotic lighting ceremony where veterans are also honored.
Crazy Horse, near Rushmore, is another amazing engineering feat and is still being constructed. Here, visitors can actually go up to the base of this 90-foot-tall sculpture. Plan on a couple of hours to explore the base and their welcome center.
On the way back to Rapid City from Crazy Horse, we stopped in the small town of Hill City, where we came across Teddy Bear Town and the Guinness record-holder for the largest teddy bear collection. Nestled in the Black Hills, Hill City is approximately 30 miles from Rapid City.
There are also wine tasting rooms along U.S. Highway 385, which runs through the national forest. As you get close to the town of Deadwood – a must-see town just over 40 miles from Rapid City – a 1950s-era village called Boondocks sneaks up on you, featuring classic cars, a diner and carnival rides.
Deadwood is the final resting of James Butler Hickok and Martha Jane Canary Burke, better known as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Symbols of the West, Hickok was assassinated in 1876 at the Number Ten Saloon in Deadwood. Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried next to each other in the Mount Moriah cemetery.
In historic downtown Rapid City, don’t miss the City of Presidents, which is a collection of 41 bronze statues of presidents. Art Alley – a back street of Rapid City – is loaded with unusual graffiti art.
For meals, we loved The Colonial House and Tally’s Silver Spoon. We stayed at Choice Suites on Elk Vale Drive and liked the location, comfort and free breakfast.
—Ron Stern can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting ronsterntravel.com and globalgumshoe.com.