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Journey to the Black Hills of South Dakota

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

On July 16th, we left the Denver area and stopped at Papa Moon Vineyards in Scottsbluff, NE for an overnight stay through our Harvest Host membership. The winery is known for their craft wines, award-winning cider, and mead. We enjoyed a tasting on their beautiful grounds before settling down for a peaceful night.

Papa Moon Vineyards. Myah met a friend!

The next day we arrived at Heartland RV Park in Hermosa, SD for a 7 night stay. We chose this park due to its proximity to Mt. Rushmore, Keystone, and Custer State Park.

On July 19th, we drove to Mount Rushmore and Keystone. It was a beautiful day for this scenic drive on what is known as Iron Mountain Road. We drove through winding roads and one-lane tunnels, cut through the mountain, before catching a glimpse of the famous faces in the distance.

Scenic drive to Rushmore.

We spent a couple of hours walking around the visitor center and grounds of Mount Rushmore. I've seen pictures of this national monument, however, seeing it in person is truly a different experience. It's amazing to see the magnitude and scale of this famous landmark. The visitor center showed how the granite was carved by sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, and how long and arduous the process was to execute. It took14 years to complete his masterpiece.

Majestic Mount Rushmore

On the way back from Mount Rushmore, we walked through the town of Keystone. Apparently Keystone is known for wooden sculptures. We stopped at an exhibit before heading back to the RV Park.

Wooden sculpture display in Keystone.

The next day we headed to Custer State Park, a sprawling 71,000 acre park, situated in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The park is the home to several species of wildlife, including bison, whitetail and mule deer, antelope, mountain goats, elk, coyotes, burros, bighorn sheep, birds, wild turkeys and prairie dogs. The park is most known for the 1300 buffalo that can be found all over the park.

The highlight of the visit was feeding carrots to the burros and seeing the herd of buffalo grazing on the side of the road.

Wildlife in Custer SP.

Needles Highway, a National Scenic Byway, is a 14 mile stretch of road that runs through Custer Park. We made a quick stop at a unique rock formation known as the Needles Eye before stopping for a walk at scenic Sylvan Lake.

Needles Highway and Sylvan Lake

The next day we took a ride to the towns of Whitewood, Lead, Deadwood and Spearfish. A fellow camper told us it was a beautiful drive and to make sure to stop at a biker bar along the way, called Full Throttle Saloon in Whitewood. They tout themselves as being the "world's largest biker bar". It is really a museum full of unique and interesting artifacts. We enjoyed a quick beverage before getting back on the road.

Full Throttle Saloon.

We explored the interesting and former gold rush towns of Lead, Deadwood and Spearfish before making our way back to the RV park.

We never knew South Dakota, a state rich in history and beauty, was such a great place to visit. We had a wonderful week exploring the area and all of the attractions. But, as always, our week was over, and it was time to move on to our next new view.

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