Our family spent a week in the Black Hills of South Dakota over Independence Day week.
We made a two day stop at Wall, SD to visit Wall Drug and Rapid City. Then we moved on to Custer.
Wall Drug was a bit of a tourist stop, but we knew that. The kids like to window shop and sometimes use their own money they have saved from birthdays and Christmas’s to buy some small toy or treat.
In Rapid City we visited Storybook Island
. That morning, we reached out to our Fulltime Families Facebook group to see if any other full time traveling families with kiddos to play with, were in the area. We found out that there was a family, and they wanted to meet up with us at Storybook Island! The kids were thrilled! We met a really nice Mom and her two sons that were in town for a few weeks. The oldest loves Minecraft so he and Riley had a lot to talk about ;). It was great to hear from another parent how much they are LOVING their traveling lifestyle. This particular family had been traveling for just under a year and are nowhere near ready to stop. We, unfortunately, did not get any pictures with them, but here are a few from our experience at Storybook Island.
We spent Independence Day itself visiting Mount Rushmore! It was our family’s second time visiting, as we passed through South Dakota 3 years ago on our way to Colorado. However, we learned more this time around and Gwen was now old enough to understand its significance and Jasmine was well….born by this trip 😉 Mount Rushmore was the perfect place to visit on the day we celebrated our Nation’s Independence.
In Custer, SD we found a great campground called Buffalo Ridge Camp Resort
. The camp hosts were super nice here. They escorted us to our campsite and explained that if we leave our trash at the end of our ‘driveway’ between 8am-10am each day they will come around and pick it up! How cool is that! The kids were thrilled with the outdoor pool, playground, and mini golf. They spent many hours practicing their swimming skills when we were not out sight seeing.
Custer State Park was an amazing place to visit. There were SO many wild animals to see roaming around. We even drove down Needle’s Highway and through some really narrow tunnels (in our minivan, not the RV). It was pretty spectacular. The kids were thrilled to eat their messy peaches on the drive, as it did take awhile 😉
We also visited Wind Cave National Park. I really wanted to take our family on a cave tour, however, I had to take some time to research which cave would be best to tour with a 2-year old that may need to be carried during the tour. Jewel Cave National Monument was nearby and came highly recommended, but they had strict rules that you are not allowed to carry your children throughout the 1 1/2 hour long tour. That would not work for our family. So we decided on Wind Cave. I took the kids early one morning to stand in line for over 45 minutes to purchase tickets for the tour at 6 pm that same day. They do not allow you to make reservations over the phone or days in advance, you have to be in person to purchase tickets and the same day of the tour. Wow, there were a LOT of people there! The kids did awesome waiting around, working on their Junior Ranger books (as it was a National Park with a Junior Ranger program), watching the film and just hanging out with me in line. We then went back with Tony after he was done working to do the tour that evening. It was pretty cool. The kids earned their badges and they really enjoyed being underground during the only rainstorm we had while in South Dakota 😉
Once we left South Dakota, Tony requested that we take a short detour on our way to Grand Teton National Park to see Devil’s Tower. Let me just say wow! I am SO glad that we were able to see this amazing National Monument. The kiddos were even able to earn another Junior Ranger Badge here! We parked our van down below and drove the RV up so that we could use the kitchen to make lunch before we did our short hike near Devil’s Tower. It worked out really well!
We were able to include SO many amazing places during our week in the Black Hills. Yet, I feel that we took enough down time during the day while Tony was working to just hang out and swim, read, play, clean, do laundry, grocery shop etc. I have found that even if we have a ‘down’ day around the RV or campground during the day, once Tony’s off work the kids and I are ready to do something. It may be sight seeing, hiking, biking, swimming, shopping or touring a National Park.
As a family, we spend so much more quality time together with this lifestyle! Which was one of our goals on this journy. 🙂
The Black Hills were amazing, yet we were ready to move on to see the Grand Tetons. Our next post will include many amazing pictures of Grand Teton National Park and our adventures in Wyoming.