#sandsoutwest: South Dakota

Its my first day of sophomore (!!!) year and I thought I would share the next leg of #sandsoutwest. If you haven’t already, read my posts about Idaho and Colorado!

When we made it to Montrose, South Dakota, we saw a HUGE bull sculpture off of the side of the road (made out of pieces from railroad tracks). We knew some friends who had gotten up close to the sculpture before, so we decided to take the closest exit and check it out. We ended up visiting Porter’s Sculpture Park, a unique piece of property featuring the work of a local artist.

We traveled with my boyfriend’s family dog, and he LOVED the open space to run and take a break from the car. Admission is $8 per person, but we had no problem donating, since it was clear the sculptor lived solely off of park visitors. Each sculpture had such a unique story and a thoughtful poem to go with it. That evening, since we got to our campsite so late, we barely had time to set up camp and cook dinner before the sun went down. The next day, we drove to see Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore! Crazy Horse is a Native American monument. Construction began in the 1950s and there’s still a lot of work to be done (pic shows what it looks like now):

Since the monument construction completely depends on donations and admission, entrance fees were VERY high. I thought that $20.00 for both S and I to walk to the top of the monument was way too much. You could see Crazy Horse from the road anyways! Since S and I are two college students and we were operating on a tight budget, we made the sad decision to skip the admission fee and just admire the monument from afar. I hope that if when I make it back to South Dakota, there will be more progress!

Mt. Rushmore was honestly a little disappointing. Is that bad to say? The monument is so glamorized and crowded with parking lots and attractions that it isn’t very fun. Again, we could see the monument from the road, and because parking was so expensive (almost $20 per car), we just took pictures as we drove by. 
There was one big problem with visiting South Dakota when we did…STURGIS. The annual bike rally takes place here, and there was so. much. traffic. It sucked. It took 30-45 minutes just to get gas because so many bikes were taking up the pumps! Restaurants were flooded with bikers and it was impossible to find places to park. I would definitely recommend avoiding travel to South Dakota during the rally because the traffic sometimes was NOT fun.

We stayed a second night in Black Hills, South Dakota (above pics), in a remote spot off of lots of gravel roads. Dispersed camping was SO much fun. Basically, dispersed camping is finding a spot off-grid to set up and camp. Of course, there are still specific places where this was allowed, but you can pick up a map at any visitors center or ranger station.

On our third and final day in South Dakota, and before heading out to Montana/Yellowstone, we stopped by Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns for a cave tour! Our guide took us 300 ft. underground (where it was less than 45 degrees!) and showed us beautiful “rooms.”

Before we made it to South Dakota, we had traveled 17 hours from NC to Wisconsin, then from Wisconsin to SD, so it felt really nice to stop and stay in one place for a while! Since its FREE, I really recommend dispersed camping as much as possible while on a road trip. I’ve never been seriously camping before, and although sometimes it was definitely stressful, the views and the privacy of the spots we found made everything all worth it. I can’t wait to share more with you soon, and thanks so much for reading! 🙂

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  • Mikayla

    Glad you enjoyed your time! The sculpture park looks so cool!

    Mikayla | A Seersucker State of Mind.

  • Sounds like a great time and you got some great pictures to remind you of those memories!

    How 2 Wear It [] http://how2wearit.com

  • This looks like so much fun! I love taking little rest stops on the way to a location! Good luck with you sophomore year!

  • The caverns and sculpture park look so much fun 🙂
    Good luck with your sophomore year girl!

    xoxo, Jenny || Breakfast at Lillys

  • Hannah Thiesfeldt

    I never knew this place existed in South Dakota! I have been through their many times on family trips and visiting friends, but never through where you visited! I may have to do that at one time!

  • I’m so glad you’ve shared your stops with us- your stops are all areas that I know very little about. That sculpture park sounds awesome, I’d love to check that out someday. Thanks for sharing and best of luck with school!

  • Chronicling Home

    Super cool shots! I have wanted to see Mt. Rushmore for a while, so I guess I’ll take your advice and see it from the road!

    Nicole // Chronicling Home

  • Your whole road trip seems like it was so much fun. I have never been to South Dakota but this sculpture park looks so cute (love the magic dragon)!

  • gorgeous!

  • Love this so much! Your photos are beautiful too, as well!

    Courtney// As We Stumble Along

  • That sculpture park seems so fun! I would love to visit it! You are braver than I am… I’m too chicken to even camp locally. I love living vicariously through your adventures, though 🙂

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

  • Lauren

    All of these photos are giving me major wanderlust!!!!!

    The Fashionista’s Diary

  • This is the best kind of travelling and exploring – cheap and cheerful! The cave tour looks amazing, I’d love to do something like that! Over here in Wales we have a trampoline built in a cave, I reckon you’d love that!!

  • This is the best way of travelling and exploring – cheap and cheerful! The cave tour looks amazing, I’d love to do something like that! Over here in Wales they’ve built a trampoline inside a cave, I reckon you’d love that!

  • I never thought to take a trip to South Dakota but it looks like so much fun! Adding this to my bucket list 🙂

    xo, Alicia | Alicia Tenise

  • Glad you had enjoyed your trip!! I have never been to South Dakota and want to be there in near future!!

  • Omg the cave tour looked like so much fun! I would love to take a trip out to South Dakota

  • Elana

    That sounds like such a fun trip! I love the magic dragon!

  • Officially wanderlusting! This place looks so peaceful!

    Diary of a Debutante

  • What a randomly cool sculpture collection!! I’ve always wanted to go see Mt. Rushmore, but I’ve also heard that it’s over-rated.

  • Aw, this looks like so much fun! So glad you’re enjoying your time!