This route takes you through a part of the southwest corner of South Dakota that offers some vastly different scenery. The route starts in the eerie gray and tan starkness of the Badlands and goes to the fertile green of the Black Hills.
This route starts out in an incredibly unique and startling area of the United States known simply as "the Badlands." The scenery in the Badlands National Park is dramatic and breathtaking in its surreal desolate landscape. Oddly the route ends in an area of great green and fertile mountains known as the Black Hills. There you will get to see the most impressive monument in the US - Mount Rushmore. Bring your camera and PLENTY of film!!!
Towns/Cities You'll Pass By/Through
The main and just about only urban stop on this road trip is Rapid City. Rapid City is a good size city for being located out in the plains and it would be a good place for you to grab a bite to eat. It has some nice tourism attractions downtown and you can also find plenty of nice historic looking restaurants and shopping places in the old section of town (which is VERY nicely restored). There is a pretty nice museum here called the Museum of Geology. Make sure you finish off your visit to this town by driving up Skyline Drive and get a birds-eye-view of the town and surrounding Black Hills.
Attractions & Points-of-Interests Along the Way
This route has few attractions but the ones it does have are outstanding. It has a nice variety of nature-based attractions interrupted by a short stay at Rapid City. The key ones that you need to plan to spend some time at are the Badlands NP and Mount Rushmore National Monument.
Enter the Badlands National Park's northeast entrance by exiting I-90 at the Cactus Flat (exit 131). If you haven't done so yet, gas up in Cactus Flat and then get back on state road 240 heading south. The Badlands National Park is made up of 244,000 acres of almost eerie rock structures that make you feel like you are on another planet. The entire park is open to hiking yet you'd be much safer sticking to the designated trails. Go to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to find out not only about what the park has to offer but also the history of the incredible topography that makes up this area. The park is loaded with fossils and you can learn more about those and the history of the wildlife at the visitor center.
Mount Rushmore National Monument is a top quality destination that will be a visit that you will surely remember for the rest of your life. We've all seen the pictures but you have to see it in person to fully appreciate it. First go checkout the monument with your own eyes and then go to the visitor center. There you can spend hours learning about the sculptors who constructed this mammoth work of art. From here you can venture in to the Black Hills National Forest and find even more incredible scenery and places/things to see.