Adventure With Your Family In South Dakota’s Black Hills
Living It Up Old West Style
You’re walking down a street when suddenly a man dashes out of a nearby hotel followed by the sound of gunshots. The man whirls around as others exit the hotel behind him. He draws a long-barreled revolver from a holster at his side and hollers at his pursuers. They holler back. They are all armed with weapons similar to the first man’s. Shots ring out. Puffs of smoke rise. The man in the street falls to the ground.
You’re in Deadwood, South Dakota, and this sort of thing happens here every day. In fact, it happens every day on a schedule. A local troupe of actors/reenactors, dressed in the styles of the gold-rush days, performs shootouts every day except Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. You can also see Wild Bill Hickock get shot several times a day inside Saloon #10. Every evening you can take part in the trial of his killer, Jack McCall.
After a day or two in Deadwood, soaking up its Old West history, deciding where in the Black Hills to go next might be difficult. There is much to explore in this far western edge of South Dakota.
Consider relocating your base camp to Custer. There is plenty of lodging available, and the city is a convenient distance from many Black Hills attractions.
One must-see attraction is Custer State Park, home to one of the world’s largest publicly-owned herds of bison. The nearly two thousand pound animals often stop traffic along park roads, creating a fascinating roadblock no one will be in a hurry to see removed. You’ll see other wildlife along the route as well.
Pronghorn will often graze near bison herds. The two species may play look-out for each other. You should be on the look-out for bighorn sheep, mountain goats, wild turkeys and burros looking for hand-outs. Plan on a leisurely drive.
History And Engineering Meet Nature
No visit to the Black Hills is complete without seeing Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Crazy Horse Memorial. These two massive sculptures carved from living mountains attest to the determination of the human spirit. They also say a lot about the ability to visualize an outcome and apply knowledge and skill to create on such a grand scale.
Mount Rushmore often is the main reason for planning a trip to the Black Hills. It is an American icon recognized around the world, and attracting visitors from every corner of the planet. The visitor center includes a museum with the entire story of the sculpture from conception to execution displayed in graphics, photographs and small scale versions of different early configurations.
The Crazy Horse Memorial is an on-going effort. Most of us will not see the completion in our lifetimes. Being able to witness some part of the progress toward that goal would make return trips to the area attractive to families looking for a chance to experience history in the making, without all the gun-play.