We set our alarm for 6 AM because we knew today was going to be a full day of sightseeing and traveling. After loading our luggage into the truck, we drove to the town’s namesake – Sioux Falls. As we turned into the park, I could hardly believe my eyes; in the midst of flat prairie land in all directions, flowed beautiful cascading waterfalls. Watching the water rush over the pink granite boulders was a perfect start to our day! After grabbing a quick breakfast at McDonald’s, we drove west toward Rapid City. Our first stop was the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. The walls of the arena, both inside and out, are completely decorated with murals constructed from corn and other grains. The crop art included tractors, buffalo, Mt. Rushmore, etc. My husband asked the obvious question, “Don’t they have trouble with birds and rodents trying to eat the walls?” Apparently, the murals are replaced each year with fresh grains:-) Pressing on, we drove a few more hours west before stopping at the Prairie Homestead Historic Site. We didn’t actually pay to tour the site, but we spent several minutes watching the prairie dogs scurry across the field dodging in and out of their burrows. In this one area, there were probably a hundred prairie dogs, including several pups. We entered Badlands National Park about 11:00 AM Mountain time. After browsing the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, we drove through the Scenic Loop Byway. Apparently these magnificient rock structures were named by French trappers in the early 1800s who called this region “bad land to cross.” We made several stops along the scenic loop, taking numerous pictures of the vibrantly colored rock layers. It was hard to fathom that this area was once under seawater and that 30 million years of erosion formed these towering monuments of sand, silt, and ash. Leaving the Badlands, the terrain abruptly returned to prairie land; however, we could see glimpses of the Black Hills on the horizon. We made two more stops before driving to Hill City: the famous Wall Drugs (largest pharmacy in the world) and a Minuteman Missile Silo Historic Site from the Cold War.
We spent at least an hour browsing the varied departments (soda fountain, pharmacy, jewelry store, toys, gifts, etc.) at Wall Drugs, including a photo op with a jackalope and a round at the shooting fallery.
Unfortunately, the missile silo site was closed, but we listened to the audio recording and took pictures through the fence.
Exhausted and ready to get to our cabin, we drove another hour to Hill City. We picked up sandwiches at Jimmy John’s in Rapid City and drove through the outskirts of the Black Hills to our cabin. Mary and I instantly fell in love with Hill City and our tastefully decorated cabin located at Storm Mountain. We unpacked and made ourselves at home in the three bedroom, two story cabin.
It was a long day, but we really appreciate Mary’s research in preparing such a funpacked adventure! Tomorrow, Ed and I plan to ride 32 miles on the Mickelson Trail from Dumont south to Hill City. I can’t wait…