road trip

Awesome Road Trip to Rapid City, South Dakota: Part 1

Are you READY to finally go on a road trip? We sure were! This is part one in our 6 day road trip to Rapid City, South Dakota.

The first day of summer break my family and I headed out on an awesome road trip. I was thrilled to finally be able to take a trip. Our overnighter in Ogden and few days in Park City were amazing. It just felt great to take a long road trip.

Many of our plans were because we have 5 young kids (1, 3, 5, 7, and 9). And, because we were coming from Salt Lake City, UT area. I highly suggest visiting all these places and would do it again in a heartbeat!

Here are some good posts that will help you road trip when you have kiddos. 🙂 here and here.

Our Road Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – Drive to Casper, Wyoming

Day 2 – Devil’s Tower, Drive to Rapid City, South Dakota

Day 3 – Keystone, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse

Day 4 – Bear Country USA and Reptile Gardens

Day 5 – Storybook Island and Mammoth Site

Day 6 – Independence Rock, Martin’s Cove, and Devil’s Gate, Home

Day 1: Drive to Casper, Wyoming

Without fail we ALWAYS leave later then we planned. This trip was no exception. We spent the morning finishing packing, getting our house ready to leave, getting ready, working out, and making sure everything was ready.

We drove a few hours to Little America, which is in Wyoming. They have 75 cent ice cream cones, a playground, and clean bathrooms. It was a great place to stop, let the kids run around, and nurse baby girl.

Once we were in the car again, we headed to Casper, Wyoming. We got there a little late, so we just headed straight to the hotel and got ready for bed.

The nice thing about a road trip is that you can break up the driving into smaller chunks if you need to. This is what we decided to do: take two days to drive there and 2 days to drive back home. This allowed us to see more things along the way and not feel stuck in the car with 5 kids for what seemed like forever! Haha!

Day 2: Devil’s Tower and Rapid City

We stayed at Main Stay Suites in Casper. I used the little gym they had and then met Eddy and the kids for their free breakfast. The gym was not awesome. Basically, just some cardio machines and one weight machine that could work a few muscle groups.

I’m not sure about you, but my family loves the free breakfasts. There is usually something for everyone and it’s fun to not have to think about making breakfast. When we go on vacation we usually try to stay where we can get free breakfast.

Once we were ready, we headed out on the shorter part of our drive. We had about 4 hours to go before we made it to Rapid City, South Dakota.

On our way we made a little detour to see Devil’s Tower. I’m so glad we did! It did not disappoint in any way. We were able to take our time walking around the whole thing. They have a great paved path.

Some of it takes you right next to Devil’s Tower and you can touch it. Other parts take you a little bit away to have great views.  There are awesome views of Devil’s Tower itself and the beautiful nature all around.

The visitor center closes earlier than we realized so we missed being able to go inside. If you stop here, make sure you step into the visitor’s center before it closes.

Once we were on the road again, we didn’t have much longer to drive before we got to Rapid City.

We were all super hungry when we got into the city, so we stopped at a local-ish (haha, it’s not a restaurant we have in Salt Lake City) breakfast restaurant. It was great to get a good and a bit of a heavy meal into our bellies.

We also stayed at the Main Stay Suites in Rapid City. We had a hard time finding places that had a pull-out sofa bed, two queen beds, and a mini kitchen. Most of the hotels were going to make us book two adjoining rooms.

It was getting late, and we were ready for a good night’s sleep. I nursed baby girl and then headed out to the grocery store. We needed to stock up on snacks and get some food to eat in our room.

Day3: Mount Rushmore, Keystone, and Crazy Horse

Mount Rushmore

Today was it! The day I’ve been waiting for. I for sure was the most excited to see Mount Rushmore! I may have been a little giddy as we were driving, and I caught my first glimpse of the faces on the rock!!!

road trip
Can you see it through my dirty van window?

It was hot and a little crowded, but it was amazing! There is a walkway that has flags from the states lining it. At the end was Mount Rushmore. We couldn’t get very close but that’s okay. We stood and staired for a bit, took pictures, and soaked it all in.

There is a walkway you can take to get a little closer. We took it until we hit the stairs. Then we had to come back, our stroller stopped us, and we didn’t want to leave it or carry it.

Mount Rushmore is smaller than I expected, but I have been told it was. Below the flags you will find another viewing area, small gift shop, small museum, and video area. We watched the video; it was cool to learn more about Mount Rushmore and the process.

On our way out we went through the big gift shop that you can find before you walk through the flags. It’s big, very crowded, and we spent more money than I thought we would! Haha!

I was so happy that we decided to come out and experience Mount Rushmore. I was so glad that it was great weather and that the kiddos also had a blast. It seemed weird when it was time to head out to our next adventure for the day.

Keystone, South Dakota

This little city, Keystone, reminded me of Park City, Utah’s main street. We parked on one end and walk down one side. It’s full of shops, restaurants, and of course an ice cream shop on the other side.

That was our destination!

It was yummy ice cream run by very friendly people. My son took a lick of his ice cream cone. The ice cream fell to the floor, ahhh! The kind worker asked for his cone to put more ice cream on top. That’s service!

The funny thing was that Eddy just told them to be careful. Haha!

We walked back to our car and headed to Crazy Horse.

Crazy Horse

I didn’t know too much about Crazy Horse. On my! I’m so glad we added this onto our trip. There is a good size gift shop, we blow past that because we already spent enough in the Mount Rushmore gift shop.

The museum is big and seems to go on forever. Part of it goes into the house that Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski build and lived in. The Ziolkowski’s are the reason there is Crazy Horse. There is also a short video they show to educate people more about Crazy Horse.

The short story is Korczak was the mountain carver/sculptor. Ruth was his wife. They have an incredible story that is worth learning more about.

You can see Crazy Horse in the distance, so we decided to pay to take the bus ride to get a little closer. Our bus driver was filled with knowledge about the Ziolkowski family and history of Crazy Horse.

Right now, there is a team of 16 people working on the sculpture. They are hoping to have a lot more progress in the next 5-10 years. That’s one reason why I want to go back. 😊

This was an incredible day! We were able to see two amazing rock sculptures and learn a lot of fascinating history. An awesome and tiring day!

The next three days were jam packed with fun and adventure! Wait for next week to get part 2 of our Rapid City, South Dakota road trip.

Xxx, Steph
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