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Trip Report Black Hills Trip Report - May 22nd - May 29th

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Hello all. We are now back from our trip to the Black Hills and had a great time. The weather was rainy and cold at times but we were able to work around it and still get to do everything we wanted to. Here is the breakdown:

Day One: Flew in from Phoenix to Rapid City via Allegiant Air. Rain, rain rain. We got in around 10:30 AM, so once we got our rental car, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then we went to Bear Country. Loved it and all the animals were still out, in spite of the rain. Once we were done, we drove to our hotel in Hill City which we stayed at for the entire week. Stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and highly recommend it. I personally loved Hill City - I thought it was a great location for doing different side trips in the Black Hills and we met some great people downtown. We rested a bit, and then decided to check out Keystone and Mount Rushmore when the rain had stopped. Ate at the restaurant located at Mt. Rushmore (good food btw) and by the time we were done it was raining again and getting cold so we went back to our hotel for early turn in.

Day Two: On day two, the weather was clear in the morning, so we decided to visit Crazy Horse Memorial. I think of everything we saw, we ironically, were inspired by this memorial and the story behind it the most. Fascinating. We spent the morning here and also ate lunch. (food was delicious here as well)

TIP: If you have an Indian card, you can get in free. (which we did :) )

It started to rain a little bit again, so we decided to drive through Custer State Park. We did the Coolidge Lookout Tower, Wildlife Loop Road, Needles Highway and passed by Sylvan Lake on the way back. Saw a ton of wildlife, and bought some gifts at the Blue Bell Lodge. We decided to get pie and ice cream when we were done and went to Mountain Treats in Hill City. Highly recommend. Dave, the owner, is so friendly and the pie is delicious. If you go in, ask him about "kissing George Washington" He will know what that means. :) Dave recommended a place called Desperados in Hill City for dinner and it was a great recommendation. Delicious pork ribs and their bread pudding with whisky sauce is the bomb. We were so stuffed by the time we were done, the only thing we could do is go to bed. LOL....

TIP: Mountain Treats for ice cream and Desperados for dinner in Hill City. Both outstanding.

Day Three: Sigh. Rain, rain rain. So we decided to go to Deadwood and Lead for the day. We first went to Lead and toured the Homestake Mine. (they are doing some work on the mine, so you can't go all the way in right now) This actually was a good tour to take though, because it got us out of the rain. We then went to Deadwood and ate at the Deadwood Social Club for lunch. Excellent food. Toured Deadwood town and then went to Mt. Moriah cemetery to see the graves of Seth Bullock, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

TIP: Wear good walking shoes when visiting the cemetery. It's not flat. Alot of steep hills and can be muddy if it has been raining.

ANOTHER TIP: If you want to see where Wild Bill Hickok was killed make sure you go to the correct Saloon #10. There are two. The original, where he was killed, had a fire, so they rebuilt the Saloon in a different location which does have the chair that Wild Bill sat in when he was killed but is NOT the original location.

ONE MORE TIP: Don't expect the casinos to be like the ones in Las Vegas. No comparison--mostly slot machines and pretty small. The Midnight Star, owned by Kevin Costner is pretty nice, however.

After Deadwood, it was still raining off and on, so we went through Spearfish Canyon and visited the DC Booth Fish Hatchery in Spearfish. This was nice little stop--my husband was fascinated with the fish lol...Grabbed some ice cream at the DQ and then headed back to Hill City for a sub at Subway and then bed.

Day Four: The sun is shining! Yea! Today we decided to go "caving" so we first visited Wind Cave in the morning and then Jewel Cave in the afternoon. I personally like Jewel Cave better, but would recommend both. We were done with Jewel Cave at about 4:00 PM. It had been raining during our tour of Jewel Cave, but the rain had cleared by the evening, so we decided it may be a good time to see the night time ceremony at Mt Rushmore. We took a nap, then ate at the restaurant at Mt. Rushmore before the ceremony at 9:00 PM. Very moving--don't miss it.

TIP: You must make reservations for Jewel Cave and in the summer they can book up quickly. We were able to book the morning of, but will need to book earlier in the summer months.

Day Five: Today the sun was shining again. We headed out to the Badlands! We first stopped at Wall to visit Wall Drug and had lunch there and then we decided to tour the Minuteman Missile Launch site. We went and made reservations and had some time to kill, so we visited and fed the prairie dogs, before visiting the site. This was very interesting. After that we toured the Badlands. This took the rest of the day. On our way back to Hill City we stopped at the Colonial House Restaurant for a meal and went to the the movie theater. Would highly recommend Colonial House in Rapid City. Great food and great service.

TIP: The Minuteman Missle site is available on a first come-first serve basis except on Wednesdays in which you can make an advanced reservation. They only take in a few people at a time, every 1/2 hour so plan accordingly.

ANOTHER TIP: Colonial House restaurant in Rapid City. Excellent meal.

Day Six: Today the sun was shining and we decided this would be our free day just to take it easy. We took some more pictures, visited Keystone, went to the Thunder Gold Mine in Keystone and toured Iron Loop Road in Custer State Park. Back to Hill City for dinner. This time we went to the Hill City Cafe for all you can eat catfish. The catfish was good but everything else was just ok. Don't think I would go back. Had to have pie for dessert, so we went to Mountain Treats again for a little "treat."

Day Seven: No way. The sun is out again. Today we traveled to Devil's Tower in Wyoming. On our way back we stopped at Aro restaurant in Sundance, Wyoming for a late lunch before returning to Hill City. Aro restaurant is usually busy with locals and with the exception of the fries, which were overcooked, everything else was good. For our last meal we went back to Desperados for a huge salad.

Day Eight: Rain, rain, rain. But who cares--we are on our way home to sunny Phoenix.

We fell in love with the Black Hills, and would love to go back again someday. Thank you for everyone's input in helping to plan our trip.

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