We had a nice three-day stop in Sioux Falls, spending time exploring Falls Park and the city. Goosey and I spent a day at the local children’s museum (a pattern is starting to emerge) and finding the best ice cream spot in the city. Sioux Falls was pretty cool, but we didn’t find a lot of touristy things to do, which was fine. We took a little trip back in time grabbing lunch at a 1950s diner and finding their best toy store.
On Thursday we headed west to Hill City, SD, the home of Mount Rushmore. Unfortunately, we stopped at the tourist trap that is Wall Drug. If you’ve never been, consider yourself lucky, because wading through a bunch of tourists clogging up aisles in a labyrinth of gift shops is about as close to Hades as I’m gonna get for at least a few more years. We hightailed it out of there, but not before dropping $50 on some crappy toys for the kids and an overpriced garbage meal.
When we arrived at the Palmer Gulch KOA near Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, which we stay at frequently, it was a massive operation with a gigantic welcome center, “fun zone”, two pools, horses and more! Melody and I were impressed at first, but when we visited the pool for the first time, we realized it was an overcrowded disaster. We could barely squeeze into the water and the kids (for the first time ever) wanted to leave and didn’t want to swim. We realized after talking to our neighbors that the campground had over 500 sites/lodges/rentals and we were living in a city of 2,000 vacationers. We ended up doing things outside the campsite most of the time we were there and trying to scheme how we were going to get the RV out of the super small site they gave us.
We did the requisite sightseeing at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse memorial, which were impressive but didn’t take long to take in. We also hung out a bunch in Rapid City, South Dakota, cruised through some Old West style tourist spots and checked out the really cool National Presidential Wax Museum, which the boys loved.
The next day we took a ride on the 1880 train that runs through the Black Hills from Hill City to Keystone, which was really cool. The 10-mile trip was a journey through the eyes of miners who built the tracks and rode them over the years as they searched for precious metals in the hills. Not surprisingly, we learned South Dakota was originally deeded to the Sioux tribe for eternity, that is until gold was discovered in the hills and settlers and prospectors essentially stole the land. It provided an interesting perspective on how things became the way they are today.
Sunday morning, we bid farewell to Sioux Falls and have been in Casper, Wyoming for the past few days. I really like it here, partly because it reminds me of Colorado and also because there are like 600,000 people in the entire state so it’s super easy to get around and get away from development. We’re here for a few nights before we roll through Yellowstone and Montana on our way to Canada!