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Places we stayed...

Jasper Hotel Fargo, North Dakota

This hotel was a great find!  We only stayed one night, but we all agreed that the hotel had well appointed rooms, easy parking with an attached garage and nice hotel lobby bar and restaurant.   Super cute retail storefront too...The Nines.  I have ordered from them online since traveling too!

Deadwood Connections Black Hills, South Dakota

Generally when traveling, we like to spread out in a house with access to a kitchen, washer/dryer, etc.  We rented a house in Lead through this company.  They were extremely easy to work with and the property was well appointed.  Lead was a little out of the way for Badlands and Mt. Rushmore.  If I was to do it again, I would rent in the Hill City or Sylvan Lake area.  Worth checking out...


Things we did...

Day 1:  Travel Day/Lunch in MN and Dinner in ND
Day 2:  Travel Day to Rapid City/Settle in at Lead Home
Day 3:  Fourth of July Fireworks over the Homestake Mine

This was a pretty cool experience.  It did not get dark until after 9:00pm, but these fireworks were worth the wait.  The Homestake Mine is the largest and deepest gold mine in North America.

Day 4:  Wall Drug/The Badlands

This was our furthest drive from Lead, around two hours each way.  Wall Drug is a right of passage on your way to or from The Badlands...and there are signs all along the highway directing you there.  The Badlands were majestic and awe inspiring.  The Window and Door hikes are pretty popular and worth doing.  As we mentioned in our Yellowstone post, we are big fans of The Gypsy Guide.  We were sure to download the tour prior to our arrival in South Dakota.  We recommend you do the same.

Day 5:  Spearfish Canyon

This was our shortest drive from Lead, but after a two hour ride the day before, we needed to stay closer to 'home'.  If you are a fan of Dances with Wolves, the final scene was shot here.  We drove up to Bridal Veil Falls, turned around and came back down and then walked part of Roughlock Falls before having lunch at Latchstrings Restaurant.   It was a rainy afternoon so we rented 'Dances with Wolves' since none of us could remember the final scene!

Day 6:  Crazy Horse, Needles Highway, Custer State Park, Iron Mountain Road and Mount Rushmore

This was a day that The Gypsy Guide was truly key.  We followed their proposed route and it worked out great.  My regret is not staying closer to this area.  If we did, I would have spent a day on Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park.  Needles Highway had unbelievable twists and turns and Iron Mountain Road had crazy switchback bridges called 'pigs' tails'...for a reason!  We had the 'luck' of doing this in a MASSIVE hail storm BUT...this was a great way to get to Mount Rushmore because you get a glimpse of it in the distance as you near the end of Iron Mountain Road.  May the weather for you be better!

Day 7:  Devil's Tower, Wyoming

Devil's Tower may look familiar to you especially if you are a 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' fan.  It has great scenery and hikes.  Also part of The Gypsy Guide Mt. Rushmore tour (see links above.)

Day 8:  Travel Day Home


Places we ate..

Minnesota - 

We drove to Moorhead, MN from Fargo for lunch.  We stopped at Junkyard Brewing Co and grabbed a quick bite from neighboring Sol Ave Kitchen

North Dakota - 

We had a beer and bacon tasting at Wurst Bier Hall and then some barbecue that evening at No Bull BBQ.  All good!

South Dakota -

For dinners we ate in most nights, but had lunches at the following:

In Deadwood, Stockade Restaurant.  Nothing special, I will leave it at that.

In Spearfish, Latchstrings Restaurant.  The food, service and view off the patio were all great.  

In Custer State Park, Dockside Grill at Legion Lake Lodge.  This was a winner.  Ask to sit on patio overlooking the lake.

77 Steakhouse at Devil's Tower Golf Club, WY.  This was a little bit out of the way, but worth it.  Food and service were both outstanding.


Tips we have...

  • I've mentioned before and I will mention the Gypsy Guide from the Apple or Google store. This will be the best ten bucks you spend.

  • Lots of driving!  Rent a large SUV.  Also, watch the weather.  We got stuck on Iron Mountain Road during a massive hail storm (see video clip->)  Zero visibility.

  • I think if I was to plan this trip again, I would either come in from Sioux City and drive west and fly out of Rapid City OR I stay in the Hill City area as mentioned above.

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