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How to See The Black Hills in a Quick Road Trip

Okay, let me preface that we took three children, ages 8, 7, and 4 on a very quick road trip to the Black Hills. Rapid City is about a 7-hour drive from home and we literally had two days to do as much as we could. And that we did! We set priorities and wanted to add an educational portion to the trip. The Black Hills is a small and isolated mountain range and includes the Black Hills National Forest–all located in western South Dakota and Wyoming.

Day 1 – BADlands

We left home at about 6:30 am. We were ready to go! Since this trip was going to be two days, we didn\’t need to pack much. Our first stop? The Badlands. We wanted to make sure the kids knew why it was called the \”BAD LANDS.\” Did you know the Badlands contain one of the richest fossils beds? It\’s also home to bison, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs. 

Once we arrived, they were amazed at the view and landscape. We stopped at the first Badland National Park rest stop. Our first sign told us we weren\’t in Minnesota anymore. (Yikes!)

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Woah! That was a reality check for the kids as they read the sign. They were a bit scared, but we reassured them as long as they stayed on the walkway, they should be okay.

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They loved the Badlands! Want to know more about the BadLands? Check out this link! After taking the scenic route through the park, we were on our way to Mount Rushmore. They really didn\’t know what Mount Rushmore was, but they knew they would find out soon.

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We saw bison! What an amazing animal!

DAY 1 – Black hills and Mount Rushmore

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Mount Rushmore

Yes, there they were. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson. Also, an added note: When we visited in May 2020, Mount Rushmore was under construction, which limited some access to the park, but the view was breathtaking.

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What a nice tribute to the Mt Rushmore Workers. Note the years: 1927-1941

I thought it was also interesting when I saw a plaque with all the workers\’ names of those who worked on Mount Rushmore. What a nice tribute. Think about it – 14 years!

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Borglum quote

Gutzon Borglum was an American artist and sculptor associated with Mount Rushmore. I would have loved to have coffee with him. 

Our next stop? Bear Country, USA! Who doesn\’t love to see bears?

Day 1 – Bear Country, USA

Bear Country was a lot of fun–seeing so many animals. It\’s a drive-through exhibit (with windows up!) 

Our last stop for the day? WaTiKi Water Park. We stayed at the Residence Inn in Rapid City. The hotel, along with four others, shares a water park. The kids really loved playing at the water park, even after a long drive of sightseeing.

Day 1 – Waterpark

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Does this sum it up?

Day 2 – Dinosaur park

After a long Day 1, we were all exhausted and ready for a good night sleep. The agenda for Day 2 was dinosaurs. 

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Dinosaur Park is located on a very tall hill in Rapid City. They built it in 1936. Wonder why the focus on dinosaurs? Along this ridge where the park is located, dinosaurs of the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous have been found. Close to the park, dinosaur footprints were found.

The kids loved the dinosaurs and all enjoyed the beautiful view.

And the view? Spectacular!

And that was our really, really quick trip to the Badlands. Would it be better if we explored more areas? Sure. But sometimes a person only has a couple of days. We choose to make the best of it. It\’s better to go, no matter how short the trip because you are making memories and that truly is the most important. Traveling with family is good for the soul and one\’s mental health, especially during these times. Honestly, I haven\’t smiled and laughed so much in the two days I was gone as I have in a very long time. 

Special edition – Children\’s links!

A great way for children to remember their trip is through an online travel journal. (Be sure to make a copy). They can record their memories, interesting facts, what they liked and pictures. Enjoy!

Are your children interested in becoming a National Junior Park Ranger? Check out the link for more information!

Do you want your children to learn more about Mount Rushmore? Go here for a YouTube video about Mount Rushmore and The Badlands. Or check out the audio recording of the book, Mount Rushmore or purchase the book. (Visit my Amazon store.)

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