Day 5 – Exploring the Black Hills

I came upon the realization, as I was lying awake unable to sleep on a super hard bed with the flattest pillow known to man, that I had miscalculated the days we had left to make it to St. Joseph.  Somehow the days of the week were all running together.  We actually had an extra day in there.  So once again, we recalculated the trip and since we knew that we wanted to spend some extra time in the Black Hills, we decided that we would only go to Dickinson, ND that day (only 285 miles).  With this short day in mind, we got up, mapped out the best route through the Black Hills to be able to see as much as possible and explored a few things in Hot Springs.

The Black Hills area is beautiful and there is so much to see.  We decided, since there was no breakfast at the hotel, to ride to Custer City first and have brunch. We stopped at the Wind Caves to check them out since they were on our way.  We didn’t take the tour because it would have taken too long, 0615161138-1.jpgut we did look around the information center and have a few laughs.  Then we started through Custer State Park headed to Custer City.  One cool thing to note is that in Custer State Park, there are buffalo that roam freely.  Lots of them.  They put up signs everywhere saying “Buffalo are dangerous. Do not approach.” But you know that some stupid idiot is going to some day and then wonder why he got hurt.  0615161121_hdr.jpg

Along the road they had parking areas where you can stop out of traffic and take pictures and video, but the buffalo can wander wherever they want.  There was this one that decided to stand right on the edge of the road next to where this little bridge was.  So people, being dumb, just stopped in the middle of the street to get out and take pictures.  In both directions, they didn’t pull off the road so people could get around. Nope, they just stopped right in the middle, because of course everyone traveling that road thinks this is worth stopping for, no one would possibly want to keep driving.  And, you know that they probably had 100 other photos of buffalo just like that one already.  I already had pictures of buffalo, and we were hungry.  We certainly didn’t want to be stuck here for an indefinite amount of time.  This is where riding a motorcycle comes in handy.  We were able to squeeze through the stopped cars and keep going. (A little ways down the road, we saw a park ranger on his way to the traffic jam.  I’m sure he got it cleared up.)

Scenery along the way.

Still heading to Custer City to eat what will now be considered lunch for sure (its too late for brunch) and starving, we come across a cool campsite with cabins, Blue Bell Lodge and Cabins.  It is a really neat place and I hope to go back and stay there sometime.  We stopped to check it out because we saw a restaurant with patio seating, overlooking a ravine, and since we were so hungry, decided to just eat here.  I had normal food, but Kirk had buffalo meatloaf.  He was very excited about that.

After a relaxing lunch we got back on the road and made it to Custer City.  (Nothing there worth noting, don’t know why my husband insisted on going through there) We headed to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  It is pretty cool to see how it is coming along.  They said that they hope to have it 2 or 3 generations.  It is a big project and they have to go slow.  It will be an amazing thing for my great grand-kids to go visit someday.  I recommend checking out the link and learning more about it.  It really is interesting. There are a lot of things to see there, including a custom motorcycle.

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This is what the mountain will eventually look like when it is all done.

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This is the model of the monument with the actual behind it.  You can see where they have finished the finger and have drawn an outline of the horses head on the rock.

We continued on our journey through the Black Hills, cutting back through the national forest and retracing a few of our steps so that we could go up through some more winding roads on the way to Mt. Rushmore.  It was very cool.  I know that isn’t very descriptive, but it just was a very unique experience.  The views were beautiful and the rock formations were amazing.  We rode through some really interesting rock tunnels, and some cool twisty roads.  We just had a nice relaxing time. (when Kirk wasn’t yelling at cars for going way too slow and being stupid….haha) Here are some highlights.


We finally made it to Mount Rushmore parked and stretched our legs.  Honestly, I was tired by this point and had been to Mt. Rushmore before, so I didn’t feel like walking all the way down to the actual site.  Not even for ice cream (it looked good), maybe for water (I was so dehydrated by this point), but we found a vending machine with water near the bathrooms.  With that in mind, this is the only picture of us at Mount Rushmore you will see.

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zoom in and you can see Mt. Rushmore in the back

Sitting there drinking our water we slowly realized that it was after 5pm.  Where did the day go?  We had so much more to see and so much farther to ride.  We quickly got back on the road and headed to Sturgis.  

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By the time we got there, the Harley store was closed, but I got a picture of the sign…Haha……..(the building on the top left pic, is a bar that is only open one week a year, sturgis.  They make enough money that week to keep them going the entire year.  The bar in the pic on the top left took up an entire city block)…….we regrouped at this point and decided to stay in Deadwood, SD instead of Dickinson, ND.  We made a reservation at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Deadwood.  (I had no idea there were so many casinos in Deadwood) We arrived tired and hungry, so we hit a Mexican fast food place on the way to hotel and just took the food to the room to eat.  When Kirk checked in, the guy told him that they gave him an upgrade to the best room in the house. It was a nice suite with a living room area, but it was nothing super special and at the complete opposite end of the hallway as the elevator and the ice machine. Kirk did find the recliner very comfy though.

Did I mention that we were in desperate need of laundry?  The last place we stayed (Hot Springs) didn’t have laundry, and we had no clean clothes left.  We eyed the laundry room as we waited for the elevator. (One washer and dryer for the whole casino hotel..dumb) and this old lady (who was clearly headed for the pool) comes hurrying to us and says that she has laundry in there and it will be about an hour and a half before she is done.  I think she was scared of us…she sat in the laundry room for the entire time waiting for her clothes. I would never just take people clothes out, but like I said, I think we scared her. We hit the hot tub while doing our laundry, then went up to the room to assess the day.  Turns out,  we rode for 9 hours that day and ended up only 86 miles from where we started.  At this point it was a really good thing that we had extra time because we had just used it up.  It was totally worth it though.  We hit the bed exhausted knowing that the next day would be extra long and boring. (We would be riding through North Dakota)

2 thoughts on “Day 5 – Exploring the Black Hills

  1. I have been as far as Mt Rushmore, but didn’t spend time going through more of the Black Hills or out to the Badlands. I regret that now! Definitely need to take my wife and kids up there soon.

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