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Trip Report Trip Report: Black Hills and Badlands (June 2013)

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Thanks so much for helping me plan my trip to South Dakota. Here is my trip report. I posted a bunch of pictures from the various sites we visited on Yelp.

Day 1: Drove 9 hours from the Chicago area to Sioux Falls, SD.

Day 2: Visited Corn Palace and have lunch at Corona Village (both are in Mitchell, SD). I highly recommend Corona Village for high quality, inexpensive, Mexican food. Drove to the Badlands Visitor Center and got the Junior Ranger workbooks for the kids. Hiked the Door Trail, Window Trail, and Fossil Exhibit Trail in the late afternoon. We ate a picnic dinner since we heard that there aren't good food choices within the park. We tried to go to the Night Sky ranger program in the evening, but it got cancelled due to lightening. Badlands is supposed to be a great place to view the stars. We stayed overnight at the Cedar Pass Lodge Cabin. The cabins were really nice because they were renovated last year. (Note: the cabins book up early).

Day 3: Ate breakfast at Cedar Pass Lodge Restaurant. The food was average, but there was no other restaurants nearby. Hiked the Cliff Shelf Trail. Drove to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site visitor center at open to get tickets to the tour. We watched the video and got the Junior Ranger workbooks for the kids. We went on the tour and then drove the Badlands Loop Road. This took awhile since we stopped many times to take pictures. After we exited Badlands, we drove to the Minuteman Missile Silo. We drove to Rapid City and ate lunch at Firehouse Brewing Company. We drove to Custer city and had pie at Bobkat's Purple Pie Place. (I recommend the Bumbleberry pie). We picked up tickets to the Grand Magic Show in the afternoon and then ate a picnic dinner. The hotel we stayed at was Comfort Inn in Custer. This hotel was across the street from Grand Magic Show. We saw the show in the evening. It was a high quality magic show which entertained the whole family.

Day 4: Drive to Lead and go on a 2 hour trail ride at Andy's Trail Ride. This trail ride goes on elk trails. The only people on the trail ride was my family of 4. Andy customizes the trail ride per your request. Sometimes he adds other families to the trail ride. We had lunch at Cheyenne Crossing. The food was good, but the wait was very, very long. We drove the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway and hiked the Little Spearfish Falls Trail. We stopped by the Homestake Mine visitor viewing area and then we drove to Deadwood to let the kids pan for gold at Broken Boot Gold Mine. We ate dinner at Desperados in Hill City. and then drove to Custer State park and checked into the Camping Cabin at Blue Bell Campground (http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/facilities/cabins.aspx).

Day 5: We drove the Wildlife Loop drive and then stopped by the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center. We got the Junior Naturalist workbooks for the kids. We went to Jewel Cave and got the Junior Ranger workbooks for the kids. We did the scenic tour at Jewel Cave and then checked into Holiday Inn Express in Custer. We spent the evening relaxing in the hotel pool. We had a really great dinner in Custer at Black Hills Burger & Bun Co. There is not much seating in this place.

Day 6: We drove to Pirate Cove Adventure Golf in Rapid City for some mini-golfing. We went to the Cosmos Mystery Area. This was fun for the whole family. My kids loved President's Slide at Rushmore Tramway. We also visited Mt. Rushmore. We drove the Iron Mountain scenic drive from Keystone to Blue Bell Lodge (Sleeping Cabin) in Custer State park. I can't imagine driving that road in the evening because it is so curvy. The Sleeping Cabin At Blue Bell Lodge was really nice, but it was also expensive. We ate dinner at Blue Bell Lodge Restaurant. The buffalo meatloaf was good.

Day 7: We drove to the Wind Cave Visitor Center and saw a lot of wildlife on the drive . We got the Wind Cave Junior Ranger workbooks for the kids. The exhibits at the visitor center were really good. We did not go on the cave tour since we already did the Jewel Cave tour. We drove back to Custer and had lunch at Baker's Bakery and Cafe. We went back to Custer State Park and did the Lover's Leap trail and the Prairie Trail. We did the Wildlife Loop drive at dusk. We stayed overnight at the Sleeping Cabin again.

Day 8: We drove the Needles Highway and did the Cathedral Spires hike. I highly recommend the hike. It was our favorite hike in Custer State park. We stopped by Sylvan Lake, but did not have time to hike around the lake. We took the kids to President's Slide again because they liked it so much. We also stopped by Mt. Rushmore again (since it was slightly foggy when we went earlier in the week). We went to Corona Village for dinner on the way to Sioux Falls. We checked into Brimark Inn.

Day 9: We stopped by Coffee Roasterie & Espresso in Sioux Falls to get some coffee to take home. They roast their own coffee at the coffee shop. We went to Falls Park in Sioux Falls and walked around for about 20 min. It is a pretty interesting park since the falls are all natural. I recommend stopping at this park if you are in the Sioux Falls area. We drove back to the Chicago area (9 hour drive).

There was much more for the family to do in Black Hills than what I had expected. I did not stop by Reptile Garden nor Bear Country because we ran out of time. I did not think that my kids would enjoy Badlands, but they ended up enjoying hiking on the rocks and were disappointed that we could not stop by Badlands on the way back to do some more hikes.

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