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Planning a Dream Vacation

Before I started graduate school, my parents took me and my sister on a dream vacation. During this amazing trip, we visited several historical sites including the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We made memories that will last a lifetime. Do you want to take your family on an unforgettable vacation? Consider hiring a professional travel agent to help you plan the perfect getaway. This individual can help you choose the right location based on your budget, interests, and time frame. On this blog, I hope you will discover the benefits of consulting with a travel agent before going on your next extended trip. Enjoy!

Planning a Dream Vacation

Past The Presidents -- How To Plan A Great Family Vacation In South Dakota

by Isabella Stanley

Planning a trip to see Mount Rushmore? You may be surprised to find that there's much more to see in this part of South Dakota than just the four presidents on a mountain. Rather than making Mount Rushmore a side day trip, why not explore a week's worth of amazing sights? Here's a handy guide to planning four days in South Dakota's wild lands.

Where to Stay

Rapid City, South Dakota offers a perfect place to unpack for a few days and explore the area. You'll find plenty of good quality, family-friendly hotels in the city. By using a hotel in Rapid City as your base of operations, you can go on day trips each day and have lots of time left to relax and feel at home in the same comfortable room each evening. 

Day One: Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse

Begin your trip with the most-visited tourist attraction in the area, Mount Rushmore. Begun in 1927 and never finished, this iconic American monument is visited by nearly three million people every year. There is a good, accessible visitor center from which you can take as many pictures of the famous faces as you want. If you're looking for a more close-up experience, walk the Presidential Trail near the bottom of the cliff face and visit the Sculptor's Studio to see how the carving was accomplished. Entrance is free, but parking your car will cost $11.

Once you've seen Mount Rushmore, head south about 17 miles to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial. This ambitious project has been under construction for decades and is planned to be more than 500 feet high when completed. In addition to marveling at the work being done, you can also tour the educational facilities and even take home a piece of Thunderhead Mountain's debris as a souvenir. For extra thrills, check in advance to see when the next blasting event will take place.

Day Two: Deadwood and Devil's Tower

One of the most famous Wild West towns is less than an hour's drive northwest from Rapid City. Deadwood has a rich and rowdy history, including the murder of Wild Bill Hickok. You can visit his grave (along with Calamity Jane's) at the town's Mount Moriah Cemetery. 

After a morning in Deadwood, cross over the Wyoming border to visit Devil's Tower National Monument (a little over an hour away). Although most famous for its appearance in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Devil's Tower is a striking natural phenomenon on its own. You can hike around the monument or even climb up its sides most of the year (except June). Kids will also love the prairie dog town on the monument's property.

Day Three: Badlands National Park

After exploring the western areas, head east about an hour to visit Badlands National Park. Despite its foreboding name (given by early wagon travelers), Badlands is a beautiful land of colorful canyons, rock formations, and local wildlife. You can camp in the park if you have extra time, or simply get outside and hike for a while to enjoy the area. Entrance is $15 per car.

Day Four: Custer State Park and the Black Hills

Nearby Custer State Park is a good place to find some of the best driving roads in the area. You can see bison, bighorn sheep, and elk while driving through the park, and there is even a pack of resident wild mules to say hello to. Be sure to take at least one of the three scenic routes that travel in and out of the park: Wildlife Loop Road, Iron Mountain Road, and Needles Highway. Drivers and motorcyclists particularly enjoy Iron Mountain Road's famous "pigtail bridges" and the spectacular granite "needles" throughout Sylvan Pass.

If you have more time, you can add other local attractions, such as motorcycle mecca, Sturgis, or private reptile and mammal discovery centers. But, no matter what you decide to do with your time in Rapid City, you'll undoubtedly find a fantastic place to enjoy both Mother Nature's work and human marvels.