After Yellowstone, winding down on the road was easy. The drive from Montana to South Dakota was calming and since there was time, I followed a sign to the site where the battle of Little Bighorn took place. This is a national monument that tells the story of Custer and the battle with the Lakotas and Cheyenne. There was an entrance fee, but the experience was worth it. This location also houses a national cemetery where the military has been laid to rest. The visitor center tells the story of the battle and its participants, and the walk up the hill the the site displayed some of the original headstones and a tiny cemetery where the military and Indians died in battle. A memorial dedicated to the tribe was modern and told more of the story from the native American side. One could look out into the fields on both side where the battle took place. This is an important part of American history, though it made me sad that our original inhabitants lost their land.
Spokane Creek Campground is one of my favorite places to stop when I’m traveling in the area. I think they are under new management and the campground is situated on either side of the creek. Tent sites and trailers are able to stay and there is a bathhouse and a small restroom in the camp. The store has lots of memorabilia, including shirts and stickers, et. that list the Iron Mountain Road and all of its twists and turns. It’s an interesting drive if you dare! I took the easier route into the campground and had no problems with the van. There is also a cafe that sells the usual diner stuff, but they also make cinnamon rolls that are to die for! You have to order the day before so they have yours ready.
Of all things to mention, I did my laundry at a beautiful place in Canyon Lake. There was history here too, which amazes me. The lake flooded in the 20th century and devastated most of the area. A plaque shows the height of the water. This lake is south of the business district where people can fish and keep their catch. An osprey overlooks the parking lot and ducks and fish add to the natural beauty
Chapel in the Hills
Just down the road from the laundromat, I noticed a sign for chapel. Built in 1968 with the original plans from the chapel in Norway, Chapel in the Hills is a replica of the Norwegian structure. The property features a museum/gift shop complete with a thatched roof, bell tower, and the original cabin that the minister lived in. Visiting is (donations accepted) and its off the main road location in a quiet neighborhood was the perfect setting. There is a volunteer who explains the story of the settlers. The chapel is open to the public and performs mass on Sundays.
If you love crazy weather just go to the Badlands. This is a small national park compared to others I’ve visited but interesting none the less. The rock formations are amazing and Yellow Mounds is really yellow with red. That it because of the mineral deposits changing over eons. Wind gusts at night can reach 70mph and with rain, it makes a miserable experience. However, the Cedar Pass Campground is nice and the sites are spacious and far enough away from each other. The picnic table is also covered to protect from the nasty sun. And of course, you have to drive to Wall and go to Wall Drug and visit the town. It’s really kitschy but a lot of fun. You have to take pics in the courtyard with the Jackalope. There is also a grocery store to stock up on supplies. Love it and go every time I’m there.
Lake Vermillion Rec Area is a campground that I stayed at earlier this year. It’s right on the lake and there’s a public beach for swimming and a pier for fishing and boating. It’s one of the best well kept campgrounds I’ve been to and not too far from Sioux Falls. The campground hosts were amazing! At night you can here the cows mooing from nearby farms. There’s a small trail too that you can stretch your legs on. Watch for turkeys, deer and mourning doves.
Downtown Sioux Falls
Again, this is another favorite. This is my third time on their “main” street and I always find something cool to do. I was able to get a hair cut, eat at a local pub, and buy some macarons from the patisserie. There is also a museum, but unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit. I’ll check it out next time.
It was a great drive from Wyoming to South Dakota and there is so much to see. The weather was decent and finally cooled off. I really like the plains! Onward to my next gig, the Sugar Beet Harvest in North Dakota.