Wandering Around America One State at a Time – South Dakota

State 37:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

South Dakota

South Dakota became the 40th state on November 2, 1889. The Capital is Pierre.

Our travels have taken us through South Dakota a surprising number of times. The Corn Palace in Mitchell and Wall Drug Store in Wall are two fun places to take a travel break along Interstate 90.

Like so many other people, we made the Black Hills our primary travel destination in South Dakota. There is so much to see there we couldn’t do everything we wanted on our first trip so we returned five years later. In addition to the spectacular scenery, the highlights of our visits were Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Custer State Park, the wildlife, Deadwood, Wind Cave National Park and Badlands National Park.

Mount Rushmore National Monument
Crazy Horse Monument in 2006
Crazy Horse Monument in the summer of 2011
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Five years after our first trip to the Black Hills, we camped at Game Lodge Campground in Custer State Park. We loved being close to so much wildlife.

Custer State Park is home to herds of Bison, also known as American Buffalo. Many can be seen from the scenic Wildlife Loop Road. Some also like to hang out in other parts of the park and we often saw them near the Game Lodge Campground. There were many calves when we were there in early June. As we drove through the park and on the drive through Wind Cave National Park we saw bison, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs wild burros, and even white tail deer. This collage of the bison and other wildlife we saw in and around Custer State Park shows just a small sample of the wildlife that is there.

Just driving through the Black Hills is an adventure and there are several scenic drives to enjoy. Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway are both narrow, steep, curvy roads with single lane tunnels. There were spectacular views from the Mount Coolidge Overlook at the end of another narrow road. Another day the views were spectacular as we drove through Spearfish Canyon but I forgot my camera that day!

Along the Needles Highway in Custer Sate Park
Eye of the Needle on the Needles Highway
Needle Tunnel
Mount Rushmore from one of the tunnels on Iron Mountain Road
View of Crazy Horse Monument from the top of the Coolidge Overlook in Custer State Park

Deadwood is famous for being the town where Wild Bill Hickok was shot by Jack McCoy in the Number 10 Saloon in 1876. In the new Number 10 Saloon visitors can see a reenactment of the shooting of Wild Bill and there are reenactments in the street with gunslingers. We took the drive to his grave in the nearby Mount Moriah Cemetery.

We discovered a couple of delightful campgrounds outside of the Black Hills during our South Dakota journeys. The owners are hard working and helpful at the Belvidere East KOA. Blondie enjoyed the dog park and we loved the Indian Tacos at their restaurant. The sunset was great, too.

Sunset at Belvidere East Campground
Sunset at Belvidere East Campground

Mina Lake State Recreation area near Aberdeen was a perfect place to chill after our time in the Black Hills. The park was practically empty and the camp hosts were friendly and helpful. They even brought us some pheasant appetizers one evening.

Mina Lake State Recreation area near Aberdeen

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina

Day 12: Wildlife Sighting and Hailstorms

Day 12: Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2013. Midland, South Dakota to Sheridan, WY. Peter D’s RV park Site 30. 356 miles traveled.

You never know what to expect when traveling cross country – camels in a field, sudden storms, or mule deer walking through your campground. There’s never a dull moment.

We stopped at a scenic overlook on the interstate so I could get some pictures of the Badlands. There is a wonderful scenic drive through the middle of the Badlands that we enjoyed a few years ago but to save time we skipped it on this trip. A view from the interstate was the closest we would get. As I was taking pictures saw a mule deer walk by just down the hill from where I was standing.

The sky started turning black all around us and it looked like severe weather was on its way. As we were getting close to Spearfish, South Dakota the rain was coming down so hard we couldn’t see. We pulled off the road to wait out the storm. Pea size hail began pounding the roof and hood of the truck.

Hail on the truck window near Spearfish, South Dakota
Hail landed outside my window during a hailstorm near Spearfish, South Dakota.
Hailstorm near Spearfish, South Dakota
Stopped on the side of I-90 to wait out a hailstorm near Spearfish, South Dakota. There is pea size hail on the road.

It was pretty scary stuff! We stopped at a rest area in Wyoming to check out the the vent covers and skylights in the RV. There were scratches but nothing seemed to be broken. Henry inspected them later and discovered a hole in one of them he was able to patch.

We continued to see storms almost all the way to Sheridan, Wyoming. The sun came out shortly before we arrived. As we entered the RV park, piles of pea sized hail lined the side of the road.  An RV across from us had all of her roof vents destroyed. We barely missed being in the middle of a second storm.

We were very grateful to arrive at our destination safe and sound. We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and even saw some mule deer ambling across the hill in the campground.