Rushmore & the Badlands – Two Rapid City region MUST SEE’s…

As I travel, I often find myself “reflecting back” upon my recent (and not so recent) destinations. In July, which now as I write this in late August 2021 seems like 1000 years ago, I was in Rapid City, SD. I was there in part to attend FreedomFest (#FFEST21) – and the first of my interviews from that highly worthwhile conference is posted HERE – it is an interview with the CEO of Zhittya Genesis, a Regenerative Medicine research company that is working on a molecule that may soon redefine how long you and I can enjoy our RV travels as we age!

One of the Badlands residents – lots of prairie dogs

As with everyplace I visit, I have multiple objectives. Rapid City offered me an “urban” environment where I could “shop till I dropped” and eat out (often!) Rapid City is also a town that is situated near some world-class places to visit.

In Badlands NP – an impressive community of prairie dogs

Mt. Rushmore – an inspirational place

Mt. Rushmore near sunset

In the Black Hills, just to the west, there are a number of towns, state and national parks worth exploring. I discuss some of these here in my post about another town bordering on the Black Hills – Edgemont, SD. Another site VERY much worth visiting is Mt. Rushmore. For me, it was an opportunity to ponder upon what was as I studied the image of each of these great Americans (well, at least 3 of them!), and what we can yet achieve in our exceptional nation.

I chose to visit in the evening – in part to avoid the heat of the day (we were experiencing a heat wave at the time where daytime highs reached about 110F!) – and in part to see this national treasure at a unique time of day – sunset and just after.

Go to Rushmore and be inspired

For those traveling with kids, the road to Rushmore from Rapid City is filled with “roadside attractions” that can drain your wallet! Take advantage or beware according to your wishes. At you travel Rt. 16 from Rapid City, you’ll encounter Reptile Gardens, Bear Country, a mini-golf operation, a cosmos mystery area, the “national presidential” wax museum, an alpine slide, a giant candy store, and more…

When they turn the lights on, its just eerie!

The Badlands – a VERY different experience (and Wall Drug)

The rock layers in Badlands NP are striking

Less than an hour east of Rapid City, you’ll encounter a very strange region called the Badlands. Shaped by all kinds of unique geologic activity, it is a colorful, forbidding, oddity. Enjoy your drive through it, and be sure to stop at the roadside pullouts, but beware that a hike into the wilderness may bring you in contact with rattlesnakes and other undesirable forms of wildlife! It was viewed as so exceptional, it was designated as a National Park in 1978.

A forbidding landscape – Badlands NP

Geology of the Badlands

Amazing colors in the rocks in Badlands NP

When you visit the Badlands, what grabs your eye is layers of rock – often colorful layers. Upwards of 100 million years ago there were shallow inland seas in this region. Sediment deposited over time created these layers. After the seas retreated, erosion took over and rivers, wind, and ice sculpted the features we see today – which are slowly eroding away as we speak. Don’t worry – it will take over 1 million years to erode the current Badlands to a flat landscape!

Rugged – remote – Badlands NP

The town of Wall, SD

A “greeter” at Wall Drug

Just north of Badlands National Park is the town of Wall – and of course Wall Drug. It too is an oddity – a giant store, in part pharmacy, in part tourist trap, in part restaurant and definitely worth a little time to visit. Wall Drug started as a way-station for travelers to stop in for free or very cheap coffee and water.

Wall Drug Cafeteria

I detail more about Rapid HERE and provide some insights and thoughts on where to stay, eat, get rv repairs done and more.

***As I prepare this post, the weather is *just* starting to turn cooler. If you’re living in an RV camper like I am, you may need an RV skirt. That was ME 4 years ago when I first got my current fifth wheel trailer. Here’s who I turned to AND WHY – My Search for a GREAT RV SKIRT***

Wall Drug Chapel!

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