There is quite a bit to see in and around the Black Hills area along Interstate 90 from Mitchell, South Dakota, to Devils Tower in Wyoming.
Mitchell, South Dakota, is home to the Corn Palace. It is now a fairly modern arena. There are displays of the fabulous changing facade of the Corn Palace over the years and the illustrious entertainers who have performed there. Of the 30 plus grain palaces the Upper Midwestern Plains once boasted, the Corn Palace now stands proudly alone. I was asked by a young millennial, “Am I too cool to go in the Corn Palace?” And my answer was, “No, you are not, young millennial.” Somehow, I think the Kardashians might benefit from a trip to the Corn Palace, but, then again, at the Badlands I saw a baby turtle fossil that was 34 million years old.
The Badlands National Park at Interior, South Dakota, is a geological phenomenon. Despite its arid and otherworldly features, it is home to diverse wildlife. I observed Magpies and a Wild Turkey there.
Once you go north out of the Badlands you are right at the world famous Wall Drug.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, at Keystone, South Dakota, is a very classy place that should be experienced by all Americans. To get to the heroic view, shown at the top of this post, requires a fairly rigorous and steep climb of over 200 steps if you go by way of the Sculptor’s Studio which is down in a ravine. The trail is very well constructed. From the other side it is level part of the way and not as much of a climb.
Crazy Horse Memorial is in the same general area of the Black Hills as Mount Rushmore. It is meant to honor the spirit of the greatest Native American hero. This monumental undertaking may take more than a century to finish. From a three-quarters angle you can really see the horse’s head taking shape. When this is finished it will be a tremendous counterpoint and rival to Mount Rushmore. There is an excellent visitor’s center.
Devils Tower National Monument was the first National Monument and was established in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. It is northwest of Sundance, Wyoming, from which Harry Longabaugh, also known as the Sundance Kid, took his infamous nickname. He sometimes kept company with a guy named Butch Cassidy.
Just up the highway about three miles from the very cool, legendary, and well preserved, wild west gambling town of Deadwood, South Dakota, is Lead, South Dakota. The entirety of Lead is undermined by 370 miles of mining tunnels which are primarily hidden from view. However, the spectacular Open Cut patently illustrates the rich history of Lead. Eventually, all of this was property of the Homestake Mining Company. In a twist right out of science fiction and James Bond, the 8,000 foot deep mine works are now home to the elite scientific research of Sanford Lab Homestake.
Custer State Park outside of Custer, South Dakota, is also in the same general area of Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. This is a fantastic place to see wildlife. On a drive through the Wildlife Loop Road, I observed Prairie Dogs, Buffalo, Pronghorn Antelope, Deer, Elk and Wild Burros. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of this park, or the wildlife therein, because a Buffalo stepped right on my cellphone right when I was trying to get a selfie right in the middle of a real life Buffalo stampede. Right? Well, sometimes right is wrong. In any event, don’t miss Custer State Park because it is a real highlight of the trip if you like wildlife.