Travel, United States

Road Trip Day 3: Driving to Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, and Keystone, South Dakota

My other half and I love adventurous vacations, which have taken us pretty much all over the world.  Several months ago, we decided that we’d stay in our “own backyard”, and explore what the areas of the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore/Keystone, and Colorado had to offer (click here to see all of our posts for our other days).

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In Ten Sleep, South Dakota

The Drive to Keystone, South Dakota from Cody, Wyoming

From Cody, Wyoming to Keystone, South Dakota, you have about a 5 1/2 hour drive.  It’s definitely one of the most beautiful drives we took, thanks to Google Maps’ “fastest route” filter, which took us on roundabout ways through back roads, and other National Forests and Parks.

Check out the slideshow, as well as a short video, of our road trip to our next destination, below:

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Recommendations:

  • Take a picture of the town sign of Otto – they have a population of 50 – it’s probably the smallest number of inhabitants I’ve ever seen on a town sign, although it is predominately known for its farms.
  • Stop at the Dinosaur Dig in Manderson, Wyoming.  There’s been a hotbed of dinosaur digging going on in that state, and while we didn’t have time to stop, you definitely should!
  • Ten Sleep is a beautiful historic town with a lot to see.  Had I known this town existed, I would have made it a point to stop there for a few hours.  I definitely recommend you take your time to drive through it, as well as explore it (if you can) – even if just for lunch.
  • Big Horn National Forest – if you are taking the drive from Cody to Keystone, you will be driving through it anyway.  Definitely take your time to view the beautiful scenery – there are a lot of picture-worthy spots!

Arriving at Crazy Horse Memorial and Mt. Rushmore

I say this with the utmost respect but if you are trying to save money, skip Crazy Horse.  While he was certainly a very important historical figure, the Memorial isn’t even near completion (they are about 10% of the way there, and have been for close to 30 years).  For $22 (for 2 people), we walked through the Visitor’s Center and Museum, and out to the viewing terrace, to see the progress of the memorial, from a few miles away. The only way to get closer is to take their bus (for an additional fee), which only gets you about a mile further in.

As for Mt. Rushmore

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…it was AMAZING! As a kid, you study these types of monuments in history class, almost as if they were fictional stories.  After 38 years of being on this planet, I finally got to see something that has been on my bucket list!

For $10 per vehicle, there is so much to do!  We took all of the hiking trails around the monument, stopped for ice cream at their large grill/ice cream place, shopped in the gift shop, viewed the small museum, dedicated to the creation of this; and sat on a bench to take in the view, one last time.

Note: The geologists are worried that this monument won’t last much longer, as the rock has become unstable.  Definitely see it before it’s too late!

Heading Into Keystone, South Dakota

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I am a total sucker for old, historic, touristy towns, and this was my “Disney World” of the midwest!

What started as a small mining town in 1880, has been revived as a place to relive history with various restaurants, saloons, shops, lodging, and even a train ride to Old Hill City and back!  Check out my photos, videos, and recommendations, below:

Where to Stay

K Bar S Lodge was absolutely wonderful.  For about $174 a night, it was like being at an upscale summer camp for adults with pristine walking grounds, beautiful log-built buildings, and a wonderful free breakfast in their glass gazebo. Our room was spacious, comfortable, and included a balcony, overlooking the forest.  It was also just 1/2 mile from downtown Keystone.

Where to Dine

For dinner, I wanted something authentic (okay, downright touristy).  Thus, I dragged my other half to Ruby House and Red Garter Saloon for dinner and drinks (I recommend the Red Garter – it’s an alcoholic Shirley Temple, and you get to keep the garter).  The food is pretty decent, and the atmosphere is very cool (see the video below).

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While much of the original memorabilia and other decor were lost in a flood in the 1970s, and a fire in 2003, it was rebuilt again to emulate the early 1900s, still leaving you with a sense of awe, as though you stepped back in time.

For lunch the next day, we swung by Teddy’s Deli, which is on the map for the best Reuben Sandwich in the U.S.  Note that they also have amazing salads and soups, for those of us who are gluten-intolerant.

Things to Do

We literally walked into every shop (which I recommend because there are some fun things to see), and as we were leaving to go back to our hotel, I heard/saw the 1880 Train, whistling as it was leaving the Keystone station.  I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved train rides, and with the wonderment of a five-year-old child in my eyes, my other half suggested that we take the roundtrip ride to Old Hill City, the following morning.

The open air train cars have come from all over the U.S., almost all of them from the early 1900’s, which have been restored.  It’s really cool to think that almost all of the cars were used to carry passengers, over 100 years, to and from mining destinations.

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The trip itself is 2 hours and 15 minutes long, and costs about $34 per adult.  On board, they sell snacks and drinks (cash only), but you may also purchase them at the station.  I will strongly encourage anyone, who happens to be staying in Keystone, to do this!

Check out more pictures and videos below:

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