As a proud Minnesotan, I can’t boast enough about the Midwest. It’s an oasis of tranquility, an eclectic blend of cityscapes and greenery. And yet, travel to our neck of the woods is highly underrated!
Every year during my visit back home to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I’m sure to take time to venture into the surrounding states, and this summer’s vacay plans are devoted to getting off the beaten path in South Dakota.
Sure, this scenic state is mostly known for America’s shrine of democracy, but there’s so much more than Rushmore!
My last visit to the Black Hills was nearly ten years ago, but after my brothers recently returned from their hiking trip through the Badlands, I was flooded with sweet memories of road tripping my way across I-90 en route to the Hills. While the state of South Dakota preserves history like none other, it also grows and evolves with each changing season, meaning there’s always something new to see and experience! In planning my return, I’ve complied a mini bucket list of Badlands and Black Hills activities—all in the spirit of adventure of course—so without further ado, here’s what I’m looking forward to:
Badlands National Park
Black Hills National Forest
As you all know, I’m all about that #hikelife, and the trails cutting through the Black Hills don’t disappoint. There’s an abundance of day hikes that range in difficulty from a walk in the park (pun intended) to steep summits, making this experience equally as doable for families with kids as for avid hikers.
Hike Bear Butte State Park
Hiking, panoramic views of the Black Hills
The Wild West experience wouldn’t be complete without a trip by train on the nation’s oldest operating railroad. The 1880 Train transports travelers twenty miles between Hill City and Keystone, showing passengers mining encampments from the 1880s when the railroad was constructed shortly after the Black Hills Gold Rush that erupted in Dakota Territory in 1874. The quick, two-hour ride would be a great way to kick off a little history lesson of the region before hitting the next item on my list!