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! 🙂