The main reason we wanted to spend time in the Rapid City area was our desire to see Mt. Rushmore and spend some time in Custer State Park. But the next major trip was planned to see the city of Deadwood, basically a tourist version of the original mining city featured in the HBO TV show and of course the place Wild Bill Hickok was killed. But we spent very little time there as most other visitors were not wearing masks and not respecting social distancing. I don’t think we missed much as we did walk through the main street and it is really just hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops.
As Leslie was talking on the phone with her sister Kelly, Kelly expressed that she and her husband Pat have also always wanted to visit the area. Since schools were closed and social interaction locally was so limited, Pat, Kelly and their younger son Devin decided to drive the 20+ hours and almost 1,400 miles to stay in one of the cabins that are also at the RV Resort we were parked at, Elkhorn Ridge.
We had a great time with the Kellys but were basically limited to hanging out. They went out one day and visited some of the places we had already seen, like The Badlands, Wall Drug, and Deadwood. The evenings were fun as Devin picked up a bunch of firewood and we sat outside around great fires he built in the designated pits at the RV Park. The only detriment (and frankly part of the fun) was the weather every evening was very windy, rainy and sometimes incredible lightning storms across the mountains around us.
On the day we visited Mt Rushmore we first wanted to do the a similar large mountain sculpture in the same general area of Chief Crazy Horse. Leslie and I paid $24 to enter the Memorial (the Kellys paid $30 as they had a third person the their car), but it turns out this only gives you access to the museums. You have to pay an extra $4 per head for a bus ride further up the hill to see the monument up close! Well we barley went in the museum as it was crowded and had the same mask problem as Deadwood, Wall Drug and almost everyplace else. And we certainly weren’t getting on a public bus to go further up the hill! It also felt like a bait and switch ripoff just to get more money from us. As it was we spent $54 between and saw almost nothing.
We left the Crazy Horse Memorial and drove over to the Mt Rushmore monument. To make a long story short (since it is basically a repeat story) it also was too crowded with too may people not wearing masks. But I wore mine and got as close as I could away from the crowds and had a nice view and took some nice photos. But we didn’t do the museum or gift shops as we normally would and left within 20 minutes of arrival.
We next drove through Custer State Park with some fabulous view spots. We even ran into a traffic jam of the Bison variety as they blocked the road for a while. Although I have complained about the negative effects of the pandemic and the lax attitude of many people in the area, it was still a fun and memorable trip.
The Kellys left the next day to head south, then back west for home. Leslie and I left a couple of days later. We were heading for Utah, but stopped at the KOA in Rawlins, Wyoming for a couple of really boring nights to break up the trip. The only nice part of the trip was there was massive numbers of antelope in view from the highways. Leslie stayed on watch the entire drive to make sure none dashed in front of the rig. It worked as we didn’t hit even one antelope the entire drive!
2 thoughts on “Mt. Rushmore & The Kellys come to South Dakota”
Great trip! I have been there several times. Too bad you could not enjoy Crazy Horse, which is one of my favorite places. I took the trip up to the work area 4 years ago and they have chosen not to take any government funds, which I admire. The other side trip is the wild horse sanctuary. Yes, COVID changes everything. Stay well!
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Hi Liz. I read Leslie your comment and she passes on her love. We wanted to come back up to Seattle this summer, but you know what happened. Maybe next year.