Road Trip to the Badlands and Black Hills… in my Dad’s Corvette

I’ve been on several road trips before but have never had a ride like this.  Having a car that can do 0-60 in under 4 seconds and can handle speeds in excess of 100 mph with ease was a real treat.  Having a great ride is only one part of a great road trip.  The destination, the Black Hlls and Bad Lands of south dakota, in our case made the trip even better.  We have travelled to the ends of the earth and back and yet were pleasantly surprised on the amazing landscapes, wildlife, monuments, hiking, and other adventures that South Dakota had to offer.  Who knew that a speculator destination was so close to home.  We only had a week to travel around but it’s on our list of places we’d like to return to.

Our first stop was the Badlands.  The weather on the day we drove through was pretty bad but the dark, gloomy sky made for some dramatic photos.

Badlands South Dakota

After our short detour to the Bad Lands we continued to the Black Hills.  The first day we explored Custer State Park and did a few short hikes with some high speed driving through the switch back curves between trailheads.  Sylvan Lake, the most photogenic spot was also the most accessible.  It’s only a short hike around the lake but highly recommended.  There are a lot of hiking trails in the area and the few we did were great.  We were there just after memorial day weekend so a lot of the trails were pretty busy but once you got a little distance away from the trailhead you would only occasionally run into another hiker.

Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park

The most popular attraction in the area is Mount Rushmore so you have to go see it.  I didn’t have high expectations and frankly thought it was going to be a waste of time.  I wanted to get the most time as possible taking the Vette on the many scenic drives.  However, we were surprised once again.  The pictures of Mount Rushmore don’t do it justice.  It is HUGE.  But beyond the scale of the monument the history behind it was also very fascinating.

Mount Rushmore

More after the break…

The best place to take pictures of the monument is obviously from the main visitor center but there are several other locations you can get unique perspectives. You can get a nice profile shot of Washington on the road just before you get to the main entrance.

Mount Rushmore - profile of Washington

There is a scenic drive up the mountain just opposite Mount Rushmore where you can take pictures of the monument through tunnels and from the top of the mountain.  They also light the monument every night and we were the only ones up on the mountain across from the monument that night.  Other than being very windy and cold it was very peaceful and a beautiful view.

Mount Rushmore at night

Another monument being built nearby by one family is Crazyhorse.  It’s not finished yet and to be honest… it isn’t that impressive.  Maybe it will be once its finished but I don’t think it was worth the visit.  The story of the family that is creating it is interesting but only slightly.


A short drive from the Black Hills is Devils Tower in Wyoming.  The drive from Custer to Devils Tower is beautiful.  You pass through some amazing canyons with waterfalls around what seems like every turn.  Devils Tower then, in the middle of nowhere, pops out of the ground from the flat plains around it.  Truly an amazing sight and one not to be missed if you are remotely close.

Devils Tower

The scenery was fantastic but there was also plenty of wildlife.  Our favorite animals to watch were the Prairie Dogs.  These cute little things could entertain us for hours.

Prairie Dog

We also found out that an entire Donkey’s head can fit through the window of a corvette.

Donkey's head inside the vette

And that bears like the taste of the headlights.  FYI: honking at a bear is not a good idea.

Bear vs Vette

We didn’t encounter these bears in the wild.  There is a curious little attraction close to Rapid City called Bear Country USA.  You get to drive your own vehicle through a safari like park.  The highlight of the drive is the bear enclosure.  I didn’t count but they must have over 50 bears and they are allowed to wander right up to your car.  Your supposed to keep your windows closed but if the bears were far away we will lower them enough to get stick the camera out to get a better photo.  If you have time I’d take 2 hours out of your day to visit the “zoo”.

The mammoth dig site is another popular destination and maybe its impressive for archeology minded people but we found it rather boring.  I’d put this on your skip list.

Mammoth Dig Site

Spend as much time as possible hiking the amazing trails of the Black Hills and Badlands.  Just reminder…. watch out for the rattlesnakes!

Watch out for rattlesnakes

and don’t forget to get an old time photo taken…

Old time photo of Nathan and Miki

Here are some additional pictures from the trip.  Enjoy…







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