We have been moving slowly across the state, taking our time so we can explore anything that looks interesting. After leaving the Corps park in Ft. Thompson, SD on Monday morning the 23rd we ran into bad weather. High winds and steady rain after noon were eating into our gas mileage, so we decided to take the loop from Interstate 90 into the Badlands. Joan had called the Cedar Pass campground which is close to the park entrance, and was told there were spots open. Stopping at the Ben Riefel Visitor’s Center, we picked up a guide to the park, and toured the exhibits which were very informative. We were pleasantly surprised when arriving at the campground, getting a site with electricity and water; at a discounted rate of $20 per night (with our Senior pass). After setting up in the rain, we made a quick dinner. By the time we finished eating, the rain stopped and the sun came out; bringing with it a rainbow across the pink-tinged sky. By morning , the weather was warm and sunny, so we headed west again, finishing the 240 road loop through the north side of the Badlands and ending up in Wall, SD. We had to stop in at the famous Wall Drug. Even though parts of the complex were rather tacky, we enjoyed the Western art in the cafe; had homemade ice cream and tried their famous donuts and 5 cent coffee. We strolled through the various stores, hallways, and then along Main Street. Then we headed to the laundromat to do some laundry; and made a quick stop at the grocery store to stock up.
We had studied the South Dakota map while doing laundry and decided to stay in the Keystone area, and explore the southwestern section of the state. We recently joined Passport America, a discount camping membership; the yearly fee was less than $50, and there was a participating campground in Hermosa-which is close to Keystone-so we made reservations for 6 nights. After studying the map and reading about various attrations in the southern portion of the Black Hills, we had concluded that we would need at least that much time to explore the area. We arrived at Heartland RV late that afternoon, and were given a pull through site with full hookups, 30A for less than $22 per night, including tax.
We have been at Heartland RV for 4 nights now, and are thinking that we may need to stay longer than the 6 nights we had originally reserved. We have toured Rapids City, Hill City, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, taken the 1880’s train from Keystone and toured the old downtown there, and have done several scenic drives in this area. We have eaten at several great restaurants, and seen the Presidents in downtown Rapids City. We have gone through many small towns, didn’t get to see much of Custer City yet, and still have Custer State Park, the Wind Cave National Park, and possibly Hot Springs that we want to see. Also, Joan has a cousin in this area; we would like to spend time with him and his family. We are taking the chance of running into snow if we stay in South Dakota for too long; but we may not come back to this area again. We will keep a close eye on the weather and let that determine our travel plans.