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"french family's" vacation in South Dakota : a report of 15 days of quasi-perfection...

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As last year, we-the parents, Anny and Erik,
had been 2 weeks in West SD and founded this part very interesting, we decide to come back with our 2 daughters, Faustine(19y old) and Salomé(13y old).

Day 1, Friday, July,the 14th. : Paris/Cincinnati/Salt Lake City-flights Delta.
I've yet explained on this board the reason of the overnight in SLC : unability from Delta for a one-day trip, but I knew that only...one week before departure...

Night at the BW garden-usual BW and a diner in a steakhouse, to content everybody(salads,
steak, salmon,...).A good night...

Day 2(07/15) : SLC/Rapid City with an arrival at 11'30 am.
Recuperation of the luggages and we took our car-a Chevrolet Trailblazer, perfect for the family and all our affairs...
Direction the WallMart on NLacrosse street
to buy : cans of chickenbreast/tuna/fruits,..
cereals,bread,some fresh fruits and a lot of
water,fruit juice, ice teas,...because the programm was "full" of hikes...and also 2
refrigerant containers to keep all those...
At 1'30 pm, all was done and direction Sheridan Lake for a small hike, beginning of
the Flume trail : we've hiked half mile after the 2nd tunnel : Flume trail is part of the
mining activity in the Black Hills and is interesting to understand the difficulties of
their work...The tunnels-the first particulary- are very impressive when knowing they have been all made by "hands"...
Coming back to the trailhead, at Sheridan Lake, Anny and the girls didn't resist to a
swimm-the first of the sejour...
Then, back to Rapid City-Comfort Inn and suites on Fairmont Bd : good chain hotels, but nothing particular-it's quiet despite the location near the Highway, but I don't think there is so much traffic after 11pm on this road...
Diner at Tiffany in the Holiday Inn Plaza and
first "burgers" for the girls...Not bad but not the best of the sejour...My salmon was good, the chicken ceasar for Anny also.
Hotel seems good and quite as it is near the
Journey museum...

Day3 (07/16) : wake up at 7-breakfast at the hotel, included in the price : good, but not fantastic.
Direction Bear Butte for the second hike :
it's not so difficult in itself...but day was hot-hot-hot and so from moderate it can be rated streanous on that particular day...
We were very intersted by the "tissus on the
trees" part of the indian culture and "religion" : the girls find as impressive than some christian testimonies and perhaps more difficult to put on because the trees are for someone high in the trails...
We profit to explain the sun ceremonies and the resarch of the visions by the native indians...
Then, direction Wall-we know, it's a "turist trap", but it's to replace in the context of its creation...and very interesting for the daughters...and it was perfect after the effort...
All the family had fun, exploring the different parts and more we found some
T-shirts and also minnetonka mocassins...

To complete the "historical" part of this day,drive to Pionner homestead and so it's easy to understand the difficulties of the life there-heat on those days was a plus to
capture those difficulties...
On the pictures I've made the intensity of this heat is evident...
We drive directly to Circle View Ranch in Interior-we knew this adress since last year and the charm is always here...360°vista on
the Badlands with the White River at the foot of the rim where the ranch is built...Hosts
are like always perfect...
After a small stop to let the luggages(we staid 2 nights here), direction some hikes : Doors, Notch and Windows, done in that order.
Only Notch is difficult but worth the efforts.The view is impressive and the ladder and the part after it fun for the girls...
We stay half an hour at the end to capture the beauty of the site.
For Windows, I think it's interesting to continue in the badlands after the end of the
real trail because it's easy, flat and give a
good idea of the nature of the terrain.

After this moderate physical activity, dinner at the Cedar Pass Lodge restaurant : trouts for the parents, Burgers(!!) for the girls, salad for everybody...We took a look to the store, but no shopping-as we'll be back the day after.
Direction the Circle View for a good night.
We think the girls will have slept directly when going in bed...

Day 4(07/17) : wake up at 7 for breakfast at
7'30 : breakfast is part of the delight of a stay at the Circla View : Amy has a lot of talent : her omelets are perfect, the cookies
hum... and she makes her own ceral mix which is a delight..
Not a problem to eat and to keep the pounds
away as today it's a whole day hike...
the itinerary has been : Saddle Pass/Catle trail to the west till Fossil exhibit/Fossil exhibit/back to saddle via Castle and we took
Medecine Root and then Castle to the east, till the notch trailhead/then back to saddle pass by Castle. It's a 12 miles combo...
Only strenous part is the saddle at the beginning.The rest of the hike is flat...
We take a small break at Fossil to eat a snack and find just after the end of medecine roots a small shadow place under a small rim to eat at 1pm. for an hour break...
Paysages are fantastic but this year, we did'nt have some animals on the way(too hot...).
After that, back to Circle View to relax a
little...And I didn't find my first digital card..I change it during the hike and impossible to find...(there were # 175 pictures on it and some with the girls...).
We go to diner at the Cedar Pass Lodge :
trout for me, salad for Anny, ...Rosted Herbchicken for the girls-sometimes they listen to us and as we said it was good they try it : no deception...
Some shopping here : indian jewels for Anny and the daughters, some books for me...
Then, we go to Cliff Shell taril at it's described as an easy trail: very nice with some interpretaive pannels very interesting.
We saw on a high ridge a company of hawks whho were etending their aisles(part of nuptial acivities/dances : is someone able to
give us an explanation...?).
Back to the ranger station to ask if someone
found my card : noway and they give me the phone number to ask the days after...
Night at the Circle View after admiring the sunset...

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    Day5(07/18) :
    After examining the card in progress in my camera I was persuaded I loose the card in the final part of the castle trail and we decide, Anny and I to hike in the early morning(5'45am...) : she let me at the saddle trailhead and she drove to the intersection medecine roots/Castle and we hiked, I from west to east and she from east to west... Colours in the morning were stupendous, we were alone, not only on the trail but also in the park...alone as human being but not alone at all : wild life was there in the early morning...Deers, mountain goats, rabbits and bighorn sheeps : fantastic encounteer...
    But after 1h30 and when we met, no card...
    I began to assume it was loose when opening the back doorof the car... card was there...
    How I did not seen it the day before??
    Perhaps we were tired after the whole day hike...
    Back to the Circle View just in times for breakfast.Amy has prepared one of her famous "nut cake" ,to damn it for...
    As we've made an early hike we serve us
    twice...
    After breakfast, we charge the car and direction Scenic, almost a ghosttown("
    railway ghosttown" as it's described in the books) : there is a grocery there , which serves as grocery/trading post...
    and you'll find everything : native indian artifacts, antiques,sodas,candies,...Just push the door and you are back 30 to 50 years ago...
    The Tatanka trading post is sympathic but less caracteristic...
    Then, we drive to the Wounded Knee memorial : it was part of our goal to
    show to our daughters all part of history, even if it was at the glory of the white men...
    The memorial in itself is not very impressive, but from it, it's possible to explain the episode.
    The indian cemetry around is interesting as the graves remain full of colours,... and of testimony of who is buried here( teddy bear for children,...) : it's not usual for us european. The indian name are also strange : "effrayed by an hawk",...
    We drive south to Pine Ridge to visit the Red Cloud heritage center, rich of
    old and new indian objects, walk to the cemetery to see Red Cloud's grave -impressive- and the one of his wife, very simple...Women were not yet
    as equal as the men, even in the indian culture...
    We have lunch on the picnic table of the school, in the shadow of a tree...
    After this native indian parenthese, direction Hot Springs for visiting Mammoth Site : Faustine and Salomé find it very nice and we stay here 2 hours...
    We find a small "photograph/cafe" shopp to have a drink and a cake for some of us...all but me...
    We drive therefore to Keystone, and before arriving at the RRR ranch for a
    4 nights stay, Anny and the girls swimm
    in the Lakota Lake...always full of charm...
    We arrive at the ranch and we have been well inspired to reserve a true 4 wheel
    cars as the ranch is at the middle of nowhere, at the end of a hard gravel road in the woods : very quite.
    Jack and Cherryl Lee Brad who own the ranch were happy to see us and our 2 daughters...
    Don't wait here for a **** ranch...It's
    clean, but the cabin was small, even there was 2 bedrooms, but no possibility to tourn around the beds...
    and water pression was very very...small
    In counterpart, there is an impressive wildlife in the "courtyard"(which is the wood itself...) and Salomé was not sure where to put the eyes : wild turkeys, rabbits, squirrels,...
    The dinner was perfect and we were with one chicagoan and 2 californians women and so as last year I was the only man with Jack...

    Day 6(07/19) :
    Full day horseback ride : we wake up at 7'30 for a breakfast at 8 and a departure by car from the ranch at 8'30,
    theorically...
    In fact due to a long preparation times from some of the guests...we drive at...9!!
    We arrive where the horses have slept at
    9'30 and after some other preparation (new WC stop...) we began to
    ride at 10am...
    It was a little fastidious all this waiting time...But it worth it : we go up in the mountain, see a lot of deers and the flora was wonderfull.
    After 2 hours, we arrive at the Lakota Lake for an elaborate picnic as Cheryllee arrives by car with potato salad/roasted chicken/homemade buns and cookies/ice tea and limonade...
    After the break, we ride to the ranch by a 3 hours ride, always in the mountain...
    Arriving at the ranch at 5pm it was times to take the car and we return to the Lakota Lake for a swimm(Anny, Faustine and Salome : I never swimm as I don't like it...) : for me, a good book and the nature was a perfect match...
    Back to the ranch for the dinner at 7,
    with salad and the Cheryllee's Lasagna which were as Faustine and Salmoe sayed as good as a burger and perhaps more...
    What a compliment for Cheryllee...
    A cobbler to end the diner and we drove to Mount Rushmore for the lighting ceremony.
    Ranger's speek was usual...(once upon a
    time,...my favorite destination when I was young,...pride to be here...) but the president's head apparing in the night, that is fantastic...
    Back to the ranch for a good night.

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    Monpetit - thank you very much for your interesting post about South Dakota. We do not get much information about that area. It sounds like you did excellent research prior to your arrival, and that your family had a fulfilling vacation. i wonder where you will go next? Appreciatively, Cabo

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    How does South Dakota have all the luck?

    I would melt just for a passby on the street and somehow knowing I had encountered a 19-year-old french girl named "Faustine".

    If I walked by such a person in South Dakota, I'd reeeeeally be (expecting no further good fortune for some months to come).

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    We just returned from a 2 week trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and Custer State Park. Our family overwhelmingly enjoyed South Dakota much more. We didn't do most of the things that monpetit did. I want to go back! I really did not know western South Dakota had so much to offer.

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    Before continuing the report , the respons to cabovacation : next year will be our first trip to Montana : we'll begin by : Missoula-1 night/a ranch-4 nights/Apgar on the east side of Glacier park-3 nights/Many Glacier on the west side-3 nights/Helena-2 nights and back to Missoula-2 nights.

    Day 7(07/20) :
    Rides began more sooner as we were the only riders that day : so on horses at
    9'15 and it was a good idea as weather was changing with arrival of thunderstorm...It let us just time for the ride till noon, a small break for a
    casual picnic and back to the ranch at 2'30pm with only 10 mn of ride under the rain...
    As weather was changing, Jack allows some trotting and loping period during the flat terrain. We've time to visit in the morning an old miner camp ,in a
    meadow, high in the mountain and in the deep middle of the forest...
    After a quick shower, we drove to Keystone and visit the old part of the town : there is an itinerary which describes a great part of the buildings...We do some shopping(antiques and I find an old Coke tray not too expensive-I began a collection of Coke artifacts in 1994 during our "'66 rallye from Chicago to Albuquerque", but prices are now really high...
    Back to the ranch because tonight Jack organises a drive to a dinner show(chuckwagon) : he chooses the one at "Fort Hayes" : the owner has in fact baught the moovie set of Dance with wolves, the fort where Dunbar receives affectation and where the colonel kills himself...It was great for our girls to see this set...
    Show is as all those one : don't expect great meal...but you are not here for that...
    Musicians seem happy to play and the hour and a half pass quickly.
    Back to ranch for the night.

    Day 8(07/21) :
    Morning ride from 9'30 to 1pm.
    Nothing particular : nice trail in the moutain, 2 stops because some of the riders were...tired...(In fact, as we ride every year one week in Tucson in February, rides here, all walking, are
    easy for us...not so easy for our co-riders..).
    In the afternoon, Jack drives the chicagoan and the californians to Crazy Horse Memorial.As we have planed to do that the week after, we decide to stay in Keystone : visit of the museum, in the old school(it closes at 3pm..), alpine slide for the girls : they have fun, shopping-but Salomé was desolated : she didn't find her bag, with the first souvenirs she baught(Wall, Badlands, Red Cloud, Scenic,...) and after reflexion, we were sure she forgot it at Hot Springs...Impossible to remember the name of the Photo/Café...
    We advance her some $ and she could do some shopping...
    After this intellectual occupation...,
    swim in the Lake for some, reading for other...
    Back to the ranch for the dinner. Friday's dinner is the great dinner : barbecue,several salads, ice cream, cookies...All was delicious.
    We pack the luggage for the day after and go to bed.

    Day 9(07/22) :
    Breakfast and a desillusion : no rides this morning. In fact RRR changes its schedule : due to the fact that some
    customers cannot ride on the saturday morning(early flights...) they cancel this ride and theoricaly down the price...
    It's true, but for the weekly package...For us, they count 4 nights of rider price and we had only 3 days of ride...So I find this a little exagerated..It's one of our "small desillusion" .
    I've jsut wrote to Jack and Cheryllee to give them my opinion because to be honnest, 3000 $ for this in fact 3 days of ride it's too expensive...

    We drive to Mount Rushmore to do a whole visit : museum, the trail, the Borglum workroom.It's really a monument to see...It's very impressive and if you are an "Hitchcok's fan", it's more impressive...
    After the visit, we drove to Custer Park : we take the long way to show the girls the iron moutain road(tunnels, roadloops,...).
    Arriving in Custer,we take the Wildlife loop and we were delighted :
    buffalos...
    Last year we've seen them only once and in fact in Wind Cave Park. It was beautiful, Salomé was excited... We stay 1/2 h seeing them.
    We arrive then at the Prairie trailhead : this trail is easy, and gives a good idea on what is the Prairie...
    We saw 3 deers(one baby), some rabbits and wild turkeys.
    After, back to car and as we were on the way of the Lodge, more buffalos(2 times...: I let you imagine the excitation of Salomé).
    This year, we were at the Legion Lake Resort-we had a cabin with 2 bedrooms/1 great dining-livingroom/1 kitchen and 1 great bathroom : 150$ a night- housekeeping everyday with a lot of towels, soaps,...It's quite, clean, and at 2 mn from the lake where my "wives" can swim...
    We eat at the Legion Lake restaurant : trouts/salad for the adults...burgers for the young and we drove to Blackhill Playhouse : I'd tickets for "Fiddler on the roof" : it was funny...Singers and actors are good, the decor nice, road to the theater is easy and we saw some animals...
    Back to the Lodge at 11pm for a good night...
    Report will continue after a short break.

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    Respons to SanParis : we live in south Brittany, near Vannes in the golfe du Morbihan, an house on the beach.

    Day 10(07/23) :
    Wake up at 7'15 for the parents and we decide to do the trail around the Legion Lake before awaking the girls at 8 : breakfast at the Leg.Lake cafetaria and we drove to French Creek horsecampground.
    We hike from this camp direction south, on the centennial trail...We hiked 4 miles one way, first in the woods, sharing an horsetrail,basic and after, a real hike in a mix of wood/meadows/prairie.After crossing Custer road 4, there is a part on the prairie, crossing some buffalo's traces, very impressive but by chance they were not here...
    I don't know how they will react if we were here in the same time than them(and how do we react??).
    We find a small place in the shadow of one of the small forest and had a picnic...
    Then, back to the trailhead and direction the Wildlife loop to find the French Creek natural area west trailhead.
    On the way, 2 more times buffalo : the last herd was on the 2 parts of the road with the dominant male on the road, surveying...We have to stay 3/4h before he let free the way...
    French Creek was very dry...Last year, with Anny, the "stream" was high enough to have to look for some stones to cross.This year, a little jump was enough...Faustine was not so happy, because we were here for her : in 2005, we saw 2 water turtles...but this year with the droughtness, nothing to hope...
    Back to car and to the resort.We let the girls in the Lake and with Anny, we do the Legion Lake trail, up on the rim/Leg.Lake campground : it's an easy
    1h30 hike, in the woods.
    As it was hot, no wildlife, but it's nice.
    Tonight, first "sophisticated" dinner :
    I'd reserve a table at the Pheasant Room, specifiing we would a table in the historic dining room : Pheasant room is the dining room of the Game Lodge, which has been the "summer White House" of Coolidge one year and
    Einsenhower another year.
    Meal was great : buffalo and pheasant raviolis,buffalo salad and caesar salad, then some trouts for Anny, pasta for salome(who decides definetively not to eat buffalos... considering too crual to kill them to eat...no opinion on the poor beef for her casual burgers...),pheasant for Faustine and mix of Buffalo/Beef and Wapiti for Erik.
    Ice cream in dessert, glass of wines for the parnts, Diet Coke for the girls.Perfect meal, not too big in portion...
    If you go there, specify to eat in the
    historical dining room...

    Day 11(07/24) :
    Wake up early for everybody to be at the Little Devil's Tower trailhead at 8'45am. This trail in the Sylvan Lake's area is not too long, but has a denivellation of #1000 feet...The girls found it a little strenous, but not too strenous.Part because the day was not so hot.
    View from the summit is terrific, much more impressive than the one from Harney Peak(we were here last year)...and the traffic here is much less crowded.
    At the top there was a mountain goat with her baby...
    We go down, hike the liaison trail to Sylvan Lake and arrive at the Sunday Gulch trailhead, at the "back" of the Lake : we do the hike in a counterclock
    way and I think it's the good think to do.You begin by a descent in the rocks, with some helps by some steps and metal barrier...And you arrive in the bottom in a sort of "jungle"...
    Very strange to find this...Really some parts are very humid...
    We find a quiet place to picnic and have a 1/2h rest before beginning the way up. It's not so difficult you can imagine after the descent you do because the trail is in a slow ascencion...
    The only negative points are : a high tension electricity line which follows the trail on 1/2 mile...and just after the proximity of the road...
    But it's just 20-25 mn and the hike reenters the woods.
    We arrive back to the Lake, end the Lake trail and the liaison to the car.
    Weather was changing and so we decide to drive to Hot Springs for our 2nd
    "lost" episod(Salome's bag...).
    Arriving there, the owner recognised her immediately and Salome had no time
    to tell what she had revised for long minutes("I'm french and i think I let...").Bag was back in her hands...

    Back to the resort, a last swimm in the Lake, a casual dinner at the cafetaria : and surprise, Trouts for everyone, after a good salad...In fact they have seen the refrigerator with some good pies-notabely the blackberries pie....

    Day 12(07/25) :
    After charging the car and a breakfast at the cafetaria(all the people here are really pleasant), we drive to the old school, near the Game Lodge to hike the Lover Leap trail, moderatively
    streanous, but the view from the top of the trail is nice and the way back in the woods, along a small stream is
    very quite.
    But Anny make her first
    "snake's encounter" of the year, and if there were some other wildlife, I think there were miles away from us after she reacts...I let you imagine how...She decides to take the head of the group and no more than 100 feet
    from the first, a second one...
    The rest of the hike has been made relatively quickly, the girls trying and sometime with reussite to affraid their mothers(small vengeance/ hikes....).
    After this final hike in Custer Park, we drive to Custer, the town.We visit the museum, typical/western town but interesting for the young : school room, some victorain rooms, a small reconstitution of a mine, and at the
    upper floor a "court of justice" like in a TV serie-type Matlock..
    Faustine and Salome takes alternatively the seat of the judge, the jury, the criminal...It was fun.

    We had a lunch here...and the girls come back to their...burgers.
    We-the parents-were happy with a salad and we share a buffalo barbecue, very good...
    We drive to 4-miles but did not stop as we find the"ghost town" not so...real...
    Direction north to Spearfish and we make a detour to see Galena another "ghosttown", more real but now private and so the buildings are inacessible. To respect the privacy, I decide not to take pictures...
    We arrive in Spearfish, and check in at
    the Spearfish Canyon Lodge...
    That's really a place to stay..It's a log building in Savoye at the mouth of Little Spearfish Canyon. The rooms are big, quiet...
    We hike to the falls (Roughrock falls, one mile one way) : it's easy, nice and
    ideal to end the day.
    We had a dinner at the Leachstring restaurant across the street : it's the
    lodge restaurant. Everybody choose the trouts as we said to the girls it was the speciality of the restaurant : no desillusion, there were perfect.
    After salad and as the girls go to bed in their rooms, we do the Spearfish falls trail at the bottom of the restaurant : one mile roundtrip and the falls are more impressive than the first one.
    Report will continue tomorrow as here it's 10pm and I go to bed : I wake up early for the work..
    Bye and see you tomorrow.
    Erik.

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    What a wonderful trip report---and it sounds like you all had a wonderful trip. My niece spent two summers in South Dakota and fell in love with all the hiking and outdoors activities. It sounds like you have a great trip planned to Montana as well!

    I look forward to your next installments of the trip report.

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    To Marylinl : several origins to the appetite : from 6 to 21 I was every summer in Courmayeur(Valles d'Aosta, Alpes) to do alpinism and it's true that the fact to be alone with companions , rockclimbing or just walking in the moutain was great...
    Secondly, during my young times, western were a great part of the TV moovies and
    it was part of my dreams to go where you
    can be alone for long miles...
    Finally, as my job is to be oncologist,
    in radiotherapy, I'm "confined" in an office/treatment structure all the week and I need some space...

    Day 12(07/25) :
    This morning, due to a thunderstorm, we have to change our plan...
    Direction Spearfish to visit the Western
    Heritage Center : very interesting museum with a nice distribution of the rooms/ indian life, cow-boy life, pionner life, miner, rodeo,...
    Then after some difficulties(adress on the depliant from the Spearfish turist center was erratic...) we visit the Dolls House museum : some 50 world dolls houses, from the XIX to now...

    When we exit, return of the blue sky and
    so drive to Old Baldy Trail trailhead :
    nice trail in an aspen woods for the majority of the hike, which is not so strenous...Some wildlife here and 2 more snakes...Anny was lucky this year...

    Back to the Lodge at 5pm and as the girls decide to read and write some postcards, Anny and I went on the '76 trail just at the corner of the lodge :
    1,2 miles, but 1000 feet in elevation...
    But from the top, what a view on the
    canyon.We stay here 1/2h, alone to have a quiet and peacefull rest.
    We were back just in times to avoid the second thunderstorm of the day, very strong, but very short.
    A nice dinner with some trouts for the parents, and...burgers for the girls(nobody's perfect...) and some dessert(chocolate decadence for Faustine, creme brulee for Salomé/Anny and an excellent bread pudding for me.
    It was time to eliminate those calories with the trail to Spearfish falls for the whole family before a good night.

    Day 13(07/26) : Checking out with regrets from the Lodge and directions
    the RimRock trailhead, in Little Spearfish Canyon : it's a combo of 2
    round trip hikes one inferior and one superior. Terrain varies in some very deep woods sometimes "humid" and pine forest for the first part, with alternance of up and down.
    At the end, you follow the river and it's really wonderfull to hike in middle of such a flora...
    Some wildlife(deers, squirrel,...) and 2 rests of deers, certainly killed by some predators...
    The end of the hike is where the winter scenes of Dance with wolves have been shoted and girls were happy to be there.
    End of the hikes in this part...
    These were the hikes we found the most easy to find and follow not only in SD but in all those we do(Arizona/Colorado/ Utah, and also in Europe). Markers are visible, well distributed and at intersection you find always a marker near to be sure to be in the good direction.
    It's fine with children.
    Back to the car and we find a small spot
    to picnic near the Roughrock falls with a one hour rest to relax.
    We drove then to Deadwood and pick our tickets for the Rodeo.
    We check in at the Historic Franklin hotel.We had a good experience last year but were disappointed arriving at the
    lobby.
    The renovation is all but nice :
    it's a "Las Vegas poor type" renovation : all what was the charm of the hotel vanished : old checkin/out counter, old
    manual elevator and also the restaurant...All that to install hundred
    of slot machines...with no separation between smoking and no smoking area...
    Rooms kept their oldfashioned charm...
    Don't expect modern amenities, but you are not here for that...
    For how many times...If room renovation follows the same way, Franklin wll have the charm of a basic Holiday Inn or other chain...
    Not what you expect in an historic property...
    After the check-in and deposit of the luggage, we walked to the Mount Moriah
    cemetery.It's an 1/2h walk from centertown.
    We show to the girls some "important" graves(W.Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane,...) but it was difficult to visit because the "historic bus tours" of Deadwood are allowed to drive into the cemetery and so they stopped at each im
    portant graves and "occupe" the terrain.
    We call that the "visiting sardines"...
    I think it's important to give opportunities to everyone to visit but perhaps a small walk from the cemetery
    entrance to the graves will not be so
    difficult...
    Back to downtown for some shopping and we walked to the '76 arena for the rodeo.
    In Deadwood, each end of July there are the '76 celebration days and Rodeo is an
    important part.
    It's a good rodeo, quick between the
    different competitions and some
    historic reconstitutions...(murder of WBHicock, stage coach robbery,...).
    Beginning at 7pm it's done at 9'15 and so times didn't appear too long.
    It's not expensive(we were in the VIP section for 20$ a ticket...).
    Food is basic rodeo... (burgers, corndog,...).
    Back to the hotel and we gamble 5 $
    each Anny and I, under the hoping eyes
    of Salomé ...but no way to be a milionnaire...

    day 14(07/27):
    Early wake up, breakfast and direction Devil's Tower. Temperature was high event at 7'30. It's a 1h30 drive to Devil's tower, but it worth the times...
    Arriving there, small desillusion (perhaps not for all the family...): only the tower trail was authorized... Due to a extremely high fire risk rest of the trails were closed...
    We do the tower trail, and DT is always nice to admire from all the versants...
    Back to the bottom and Faustine/Salome
    stay to see the prairie dog town here for 3/4 hour.
    During this time, I look on my Falcon guide where to go and finally, direction the Cook lake recreation area. It's a small lake, after an one hour drive on a easy but gravel road with a lot of courbs...
    It's enchanting.We do here the swallow cliff trail a 3 h hike not too difficult
    but T° was so high that we've just enough water to come back to the car.
    I think that if we stay on our original programm it would have been just in
    water...
    At the end of the trail you surplomb a
    creek when you can see the work of some beaver companies, very interesting.
    We had a picnic here and a small rest.

    Then back to Deadwood and we visit Tatanka Center, the "museum" dedicated to the buffalos, part of K.Costner project : small but interesting and there are here some moovie costums...
    After that some shopping and we have our theoricaly our second sophisticated dinner at Jake's at the midnight star, the K.Costner restaurant of Deadwood...
    Definetively....Overrated...
    First, when we arrive in times, at 8 for a reservation at 8...we have to be patient for 15 mn before arriving at our table, which was...ready from the beginning...
    Meal was good but not exceptional...Not
    "grande cuisine" : basic as a middle
    steakhouse...Dessert are commons...
    Cadre is nice, but even we seem to you
    a little "snobby" : how it's possible in a such restaurant :
    -to eat keeping baseball cap on the head??
    -to arrive for men with tongs in T-shirts and for some in short walking pants...
    I know if you pay, you can have but for
    us dining in a good restaurant is a
    "whole" affair and raffinements in the plate is parallel with raffinement at the table...
    So, basic good meal in a nice cadre but
    with cafetaria atmosphere...
    A new time,5 $ gambling each, but always no millionaire in the family.
    report will continue soon.
    Erik.

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    I just remark I write 2 days "12"...
    So correction is a day more/final part...
    Final day of the vacation: Day 15, July the 29th.
    Wake up not so early : no hike today...
    We have breakfast at the Silverado, across the street from the Franklin(same owner now...) : I think it's not necessary to go there...They are able to
    do bad scramble eggs...Fruits are not of high quality...
    Then, we charge the car and direction Rapid City.
    We arrive at our second turist trap, Reptiles Garden and in fact, we had fun there.
    We do all the shows(bird, gator,
    snake,...).Faustine was happy with the turtles, Salome with all the animals and Anny can examine the snakes as they are
    under windows...
    To be honnest, arriving in the courtyard, Anny saw a garder snake...
    Last encounter in liberty...
    We were surprised that during the snake show a rattlesnake was part of the show...
    We planed to stay only 1h30 but the enthousiasm of the girls was so than we lunch here and were on the road to Rapid City at 2pm.
    We check in at the Alex Johnson.
    When I organise the vacation I ask for the rates and the owner directly propose
    the family suite : 2 larges bedrooms with independant entries and a great shared bathroom...159$(2 rooms would have been 2 x 139$) : so a good deal...

    After a small passage in rooms and reorganisation of the luggage, to know how much place it rest for the final shopping, direction the Prairie Edge :
    it's a wonderfull store, full of indian artifacts, and a bookstore.
    Everybody finds something : porcupine indian jewelry for Salome and Anny,
    some "indian" turtles for Faustine(she had a great collection of such items from all around the world) and for me
    a large spoon in buffalo horn, with beadwork, from a sioux artist.
    I've began since 10 years a collection of indian artifact(navajo rugs, hopi kachinas, zuni fetishes,...) and I try to buy on the location of the work...
    After we've made 2 antiques mall, before doing the old building tour and the statues of president tours.
    Back to the AJ and a small stop at the souvenirshop to spend the final $...

    Then, we have our last sophisticatde dinner, at the Corn Exchange...
    And that was great...Where great and good cuisine doesn't mean pretentious way, but where people respect the work of the chief...
    No base ball caps, people well dressed, but casual...
    And in the plates, it was the feast...All was good, from a wild alaska salmon to a pan roasted quail,
    a buffalo filet mignon, or the salads.
    The gaspacho was perfect and the desserts were a dream...(the buttermilk cream at chocolate marinated in cinamon is one of the best I've ever tasted even in the *** restaurant we go in France...)
    That is an adress to highly recommand...
    Back to the hotel for our final sleep in SD.
    Morning, Back to airport, and back flights without problem...for a 24h long
    travel...But a lot of souvenir...

    So, in conclusion,
    to recommand highly :
    Spearfish Canyonland resort, Alex Johnson and Legion lake resort, Circle view ranch for lodging;
    Corn Exchange, Pheasant room and
    Lachstring restaurant at Sperafish resort for fine dining...

    to have a basic :
    -lodging, the country inn at Fairmont Bd in Rapid City;
    -dining, Leg.Lake resort cafetaria,
    Tiffany at the holiday inn Plaza in Rapid City, Cedar Pass Lodge restaurant.

    to discuss : some nights at the RRR
    but with a good riding programm...

    to avoid :
    -lodging, the Historic Franklin, and a basic chain hotel in Deadwood seem sufficient(Holiday Inn, BW,...) : we don't know how is the Celibrity hotel : seems good, the gambling rooms are nice, not for gambling-we are not great gamblers,but there are some moovie costums, pistols, ... which are fun...
    -dining , Jake's at the Midnight star,
    largely overrated in the plate and pretentious..., the Silverado for brakfast...

    To recommand highly, this part of SD, where you find fun for all the family...
    For hikers, don't expect challenging hikes, but sometimes gently trails are good for a peacefull vacation...and they allow you to see such a wildlife...
    Erik.

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    I absolutely loved reading this from the perspective of a French family. We had a student stay with us last year, he lives in Vannes, France, and this trip reminded me of his fascination with all things western, American Indian, etc... this sounds like a great trip, but nothing that most Americans would ever plan to do.
    Reading this makes the area have a whole new appeal.

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    For the meals, I think the "bad eating"
    reputation of the US is as false than the "less-washing reputation" of the french...
    You can eat bad if you stay in the usual
    Kentucky fried chicken, Mc Do,...but with good guides and good research(web, or asking the local...) you find always
    good spots.
    Strange Luugis, we are in Vannes...
    A part the moon conquest, it's a fact that the west conquest is the real last
    great "discovery" of the modern world story...and new spaces = dreams and hopes.
    For the indian culture, native indians
    have reputation of nature's respect and
    "tradition" and in this times, it's aspiration of numerous people.
    Erik.

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    Thank you, Erik, for your wonderfully detailed report. Your spirit of adventure has taken you to a part of America few Amricans will experience. I am jealous!

    May I ask you a difficult question? Is it strange to you to reconcile the image of America, as seen from Europe today, with the America you found in South Dakota, in terms of the physical environment, the type of life the people live, and the type of people they seem to be? It just strikes me that the two views would be quite different and that what you found in South Dakota would be a surprise to all but the most seasoned European travelers to America.

    Happy travels! We'll leave the light on for your return next year.

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    Mary Fran,
    I've always found an enormous difference between what medisa(TV,newspaper,...) and what politicians and/or "people"(actors, intellectuels...) say and what is the perception of "american/french" "normal
    people each other...
    I found in US some stupid, rude people but no more than in France, Italy,...
    Even in the acme of our "theorically"
    animosity, in February 2004, when our 2 countries had different opinions on the Iraq problem, we were at our usual ranch week in Tucson, and went to a rodeo : Tucson, in Arizona, and rodeo : not really a "democrat" trap and more I think an assistance of "republican" : in fact, the people there has nothing to do with our nationality...
    The questions were " where do you leave in France ? how is the weather by there ? How do you learn about the rodeo....I'd like to travel to France...".
    In the same period, if you read the french or the US newspaper or listen to TV, we were almost in a "cold war" between our 2 countries...(french fries were subsitute by liberty fries, french wine was pull on the streets,...)
    What the european have difficulties to admit is that some of the current griefs they assume to the US are in fact causer of their own ancestors...(the indian war, the salvery : all that was made by new US emigrants , "the fathers or our great fathers"...).
    What the US have difficulties to admit is that Europe have a great history of war on its own territory and so diplomacy is preferred...
    Truth would be in the middle, in sense of intelligence, but we, normal people,
    forgot often that commercial issues and
    aspiration of puissance keep the mind of our dirigeant.
    In one word, I don't resume the US to their gvt, and the same in France...
    In SD, people have to work a lot to leave I think : it's a nice part of US,
    with a lot of turist attractions, but to content turism is a difficult job :
    vacations are hardly obtained by work and people want the best(often for few $, what is imposible...).
    Out of the attractions, terrain is poor and $ should be difficult to gain...
    So, we found local people courageous but always happy to speak and french nationality didn't seem an handicap to travel there...
    I'm sure Montana our next summer's destination will be the same..
    Erik
    PS : long respons, but "hard and delicate" question...

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    Thank you for a great report. I loved hearing it from someone who does not live here. I also thought your response to Mary Fran's question was well stated and very true. I hope you have a wonderful time in Montana and look forward to your report.

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    That was just a wonderful report, and a really good answer to Mary Fran's question. I think too often people look at "today's picture" only and can't see it in the context of prior history, if the even know the history. So glad you enjoyed your vacation and Montana is beautiful. I'm heading for Paris in about four weeks, third trip, love it there, and just can't wait!!!!

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    I certainly hope that your welcome here in the US was as warm as the welcome given to me by the French.

    My husband & I have spent 3 weeks in France every year for the past 6 years. We usually spend a week to 10 days following Letour and the rest of our time is spent visiting quiet villages. Though we have never been to your part of the country, my husband prefers to ride his bicycle in the mountains, so we spend a lot of our time in the Alps.

    Wherever we have stayed we have been overwhelmed by the kindness and warmth of the people we have met.

    We have fallen in love with France and will continue to visit as often as we can.

    My French gets better every year but I still have trouble spelling things correctly, so please forgive that this message in in English.

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    Very nice trip report, monpetit. I enjoyed reading every bit of it.

    I also wanted to add to a couple of things you mentioned about the status of Indian women (you noticed less elaborate graves) and the influence of European settlers. At one time, at least here in Wisconsin (not too far from SD), women were on a fairly equal level with men and had an important part in tribal governance and decisions. This changed once the Europeans started moving into this area and influencing the Indian culture since women had not had this level of stature in Europe.

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    starrs, thanks for digging out this awesome report. I find it amaising how someone on vacation, from another part of the world, can look at a prarie and rocks and with a new attitude turn it into a great adventure. I often can't see the forest because of the trees. Thanks to Eric for taking the time write this deailed report. merci

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    Yes, starrs, thanks.

    We're going to the Badlands/Custer State Park/ Mt. Rushmore, et al area the end of August/beginning of September on our way to Glacier and Yellowstone. Have now added Erik's entire trip report to my travel folder. And, by clicking on his name, I found his Glacier/Yellowstone/Tetons trip report which I've also copied to my folder.

    zippypop, you said it.

    Fran

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    Trés bien, monpetit! I think you should ask for a refund from the riding. You did pay for 4 days!

    It is indeed fun to read reactions to the U.S. by others.

    As you say, the truth about us is in the middle-thank goodness modern travel and sites like Fodors make it easy to close all gaps!

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    Great report(s) monpetit,
    If you liked South Dakota prepare to fall in love at Glacier National Park; just phenomenal!!!!

    Your choice of Many Glacier is just perfect, the best part of the park. Make SURE you get a balcony room or two in the hotel and be aware that there ARE Grizzly Bears close by. We saw one no more than one kilometre from the hotel, not far by Grizzly standards.

    You will love Montana. Are you aware that road signs saying "Open Range" - mean "large black cattle but no fences"? NOT a place to drive at night! Enjoy!

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