Off to the Back Hills! We headed into South Dakota to find dog food(!), then drove through Deadwood, SD. A very cool “old west” town, it’s pretty touristy, although we noticed all these runners walking around with medals, so we had to stop and ask them what race they just ran. The Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon and Half Marathon was just finishing as we drove through. Some quick googling revealed the race is mostly downhill. We might have to come back for this one!


Next stop, Crazy Horse. The history of Crazy Horse is, well, crazy. Back in the 1940s, a group of Native Americans commissioned a sculptor to create a 500 foot monument to the Lakota chief Crazy Horse. So far only the face is complete and the sculptor died years ago. There is now a non-profit trying to raise enough money to finish the statue, and work continues, but it seems as though it’s an impossible task. Even just the completed face is pretty impressive to see, and the monument was especially crowded this Sunday as each year, the first weekend of June, they allow people to do the 1 ½ hour hike to the face of the statue. We opted to just view it from afar.


After Crazy Horse, we drove further into the beautiful Black Hills to Mount Rushmore. I had modest expectations of the memorial and was pleasantly surprised! The viewing terrace, amphitheater and hall of state flags are all very well done and the memorial itself is very cool to behold. I attempted (badly) a selfie of us with the presidents:

On the way to the Badlands, we drove by the famous Wall Drug. Wall Drug is basically a tourist trap – Wall is a tiny town at one end of the scenic loop through the Badlands – and Wall Drug is famous for all the humorous billboards along I-90 encouraging people to stop. We didn’t have time to go in, but glad we got to see it from outside.

Our final National Park of the trip did not disappoint. Badlands National Park is famous for its colorful canyons and hills, and for the plethora of fossils uncovered there. We were there in the early evening and the light couldn’t have been more perfect. A few of our favorite shots:

And we finally saw a bighorn sheep!

As we were leaving Badlands, we noticed a few thunderstorms to our north and to our south east. A quick look at the radar showed us that we were seeing ALL of the thunderstorms in South Dakota that afternoon –about a hundred miles away or more! To say there is a lot of sky out here is an understatement. We caught this picture of the sunset through the rain through the back of the RV:

We picked a random campground about 2 hours east of Badlands to camp to shorten our drive to Minneapolis the next day. The camp was fine, although it had a sewer treatment plant adjacent to it. Seriously.

Stats from day 15:

  • States traveled through: 2
  • Day 15 miles: 373
  • Total trip miles: 4790