The Dakota provide more than stunning scenery. It involves looking back on the past, both current and ancient, and appreciating it. It’s a drive through the best of classic America: cowboys, old towns, quirky tourist attractions, views of the mountainous terrain, Mount Rushmore National Monument, and Crazy Horse Memorial. Get ready for wild animals in abundance, rocky mountains, and golden meadows. With the help of this useful guide, maximize your trip.
Capital City: Bismarck, North Dakota
Fly into the little airport in Bismarck or the bigger Hector International Airport (FAR) in Fargo, which is 322 kilometres to the east. Starting in the North Dakota State Capitol will provide you a bird’s eye view of Bismarck and its sister city Mandan whenever you’re ready to travel.
While you’re here, make sure to check out the Knife River Indian Village, Cross Ranch Centennial State Park, and the historic replicas of Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s headquarters and other military structures at Fort Abraham Lincoln, all of which are located in the Northern Plains National Heritage Area along the Missouri River. Visit the Dakota Zoo, take a tour of historic Buckstop Junction, or take a sail on the Lewis and Clark Riverboat, among other entertaining activities in Bismarck-Mandan.
Medora, North Dakota: Saddle Up, Cowboys and Cowgirls
When you arrive in the old town of Medora after a two-hour drive to the west. A stroll through the main plaza will transport you back in time. Children can play in the Western-themed Medora Children’s Park. While learning about the region’s history at the Billings County Museum, North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, and Château de Mores historic site.
Participate in the Pitchfork Steak Fondue. An evening of outdoor dining and entertainment. When cowboy cooks stack juicy steaks onto pitchforks to be dipped into a cauldron of hot oil. For a truly Western experience. Watch “The Biggest Show in the West,” a Medora Musical, as you dine. The 26th American president, Theodore Roosevelt, is honoured in this live musical set against the breathtaking backdrop of the North Dakota Badlands.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Natural Wonders Abound
Long before he became president, Theodore Roosevelt visited the region in 1883 to explore and hunt bison. He developed a deep love for the area, and his activities would influence subsequent conservation efforts. More than 28,500 hectares of national parkland make up this environment, which is separated into three sections. The Painted Canyon, which is seen by most visitors as they enter the park from Interstate 94, is the most well-known view. As far as the eye can see, the striated, vivid canyon walls extend into the Badlands. Take the 58-kilometer Scenic Loop Road that winds around the park starting at the South Unit Visitor Center. Throughout the park, bison and other wildlife are common. Take the 22.5-kilometer Scenic Road across the Little Missouri River Valley to explore the North Unit.
Sturgis and Deadwood, South Dakota: Reliving the Wild West
U.S. Highway 85 south will lead you to Sturgis in the southern adjacent state. Despite having only 6,700 residents, Sturgis welcomes a little over 500,000 tourists each August for the annual motorcycle rally. Both motorcycle fans and spectators can participate in the event’s activities.
To get to Deadwood, the town made famous by legends like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and others, use Boulder Canyon Road. The Main Street Shootout, which takes place three times daily during the summer, is one of the main draws (except Sundays). The free performance recreates the Wild West era of the storied town. Such programmes include the Calamity Jane Show, the Trial of Jack McCall (the assassin of Wild Bill), and many others.
The Black Hills National Forest, which provides activities like hiking, camping, mountain biking, cave exploring, horseback riding, and more, is easily accessible from Deadwood. Its breathtaking settings include limestone canyons, grasslands, indigo-blue lakes, and rough rock formations. The most breathtaking views of the Black Hills may be seen along the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway and the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. Be sure to take the antique 1880 Train in Hill City if you’re travelling with kids.
Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore & the Badlands: U.S. History Meets Geologic Time
The renowned gorgeous Sylvan Lake is found in Custer State Park, which is also located within the Black Hills National Forest. It’s a great location for boating, fishing, and picnics by the water. Try Legion Lake, a stunning location where you may eat lunch on balconies that overlook the water. Within the park, a herd of 1,300 bison can be observed frequently along the 29-kilometer Wildlife Loop.
Then, go to the Mount Rushmore National Monument, one of the country’s most famous sites. This remarkable memorial to four American presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln—by sculptor Gutzon Borglum is situated on Route 244 in the Black Hills. To visit the Crazy Horse Monument, travel west. To learn more about the living heritage of North American Indians and to preserve it, take a drive west to the Crazy Horse Monument. A must-see event at the memorial is the evening laser light show.
Take Interstate 90 East to the east to reach Badlands National Park. It has geological formations and deposits. That include some of the richest fossil beds in the entire world. The best way to experience the prairie. It is home to bighorn sheep and prairie dogs. This is to drive along Highway 240 Loop Road. Or go on a hike along one of the many marked paths that depart from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
Rapid City: Gateway to the Parks
Rapid City, which has easy access to all of these locations. It is the closest large city and the entryway to all of this natural beauty. If you choose to stay in the area. Be sure to see some of the town’s own attractions, such as Reptile Gardens and Main Street Square. See the historic Wall Drug Store, which is 45 minutes east of Rapid City, before you leave the area. Don’t miss Wind Cave National Park, which is roughly an hour’s drive via State Road 79 south of Rapid City. Here, you may explore one of the world’s longest and most intricate cave systems beneath the plains and mountains.