Remember watching cartoons when you were a kid and seeing four presidents' faces carved into a mountain. Yes, that's Mount Rushmore - and it exists in real life. I drove by to give a quick hello to the fellas and it's definitely cool to check out in real life. BUT, I've got three things that you've got to add to your list of "must do's" when you're in the Mount Rushmore state.
Because you're going, ok?
BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK.
This was hands down THE highlight of my trip. The rock formations that tower above you and come to life are full of history. These formations are some of the world's richest fossil beds.
The park offers backcountry camping, day trails and hikes, animal sightings and some of the most incredible views of the stars on a clear night.
THE BLACK HILLS + BLACK ELK PEAK.
The Black Hills are a small, isolated mountain range that extends from South Dakota all the way to Wyoming. They are home to some of the oldest caves in the United States and the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains in the USA.
The hills are home to a lot of adventures that you'll want to check out in SD, and they're all where you can have your chance to say hello to the four fellas yourself.
My recommendation: stay lakeside at Sylvan Lake Lodge and hike Black Elk Peak to get soak in the views from the highest point in SD and head over to bucket list spot number 3 when you're done.
CUSTER STATE PARK + THE WILDLIFE LOOP.
If you're anything like me and L.O.V.E the animals this is the spot to be. The wildlife loop takes you across 18 miles of paved road through rolling hills and horizons for days. This is where you'll spot wild bison and antelope - and if you're lucky enough to come across the begging burrows, be sure to give them some carrots.
Questions before your next trip? Let me know and I'd be happy to give some tips!