Good Route Through Badlands to a Great Monument + ADD NEW ROUTE
7 in South Dakota South Dakota120 Miles
By Evan Tinsley
on April 15, 1998
- Trip Toolbox
Start your route in Cactus Flats, South Dakota (take exit #131 off of I-90). Follow route 240 south towards the town of Interior. Next take route 44 west to and through the town of "Scenic" and stay on 44 all the way to Rapid City. Next take route 79 south towards Hermosa and get on route 40 heading west and on to Mt Rushmore.
This route takes you through a part of the southwest corner of South Dakota that offers some vastly different scenery. The route starts in the eerie gray and tan starkness of the Badlands and goes to the fertile green of the Black Hills.
This route starts out in an incredibly unique and startling area of the United States known simply as 'the Badlands.' The scenery in the Badlands National Park is dramatic and breathtaking in its surreal desolate landscape. Oddly the route ends in an area of great green and fertile mountains known as the Black Hills. There you will get to see the most impressive monument in the US - Mount Rushmore. Bring your camera and PLENTY of film!!!
The roads in this section are pretty open with moderate turns and climbs. Driving through the badlands is nothing like you've ever done before. The roads are not that outstanding but something about weaving through the odd natural stone pillars and mountains can give you chills. Towards the end of the route as you enter the Black Hills the route gets a little more exciting based on the turns and climbs.
This route has few but outstanding amenities. It has a nice variety of nature-based attractions interrupted by a short stay at Rapid City. The highpoints of the route are as follows:
- Enter the Badlands National Park's northeast entrance by exiting I-90 at the Cactus Flat (exit 131). If you haven't done so yet, gas up in Cactus Flat and then get back on state road 240 heading south. The Badlands National Park is made up of 244,000 acres of almost eerie rock structures that make you feel like you are on another planet. The entire park is open to hiking yet you'd be much safer sticking to the designated trails. Go to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to find out not only about what the park has to offer but also the history of the incredible topography that makes up this area. The park is loaded with fossils and you can learn more about those and the history of the wildlife at the visitor center.
- Rapid City is a good size city for being located out in the plains and it would be a good place for you to grab a bite to eat. It doesn't have a whole lot to offer in terms of tourism yet you can find a few nice restaurants and shopping places. There is a pretty nice museum here called the Museum of Geology. Make sure you finish off your visit to this town by driving up Skyline Drive and get a birds-eye-view of the town and surrounding Black Hills.
- Mount Rushmore National Monument (605-574-2523) is a top quality destination that will be a visit that you will surely remember for the rest of your life. We've all seen the pictures but you have to see it in person to fully appreciate it. First go checkout the monument with your own eyes and then go to the visitor center. There you can spend hours learning about the sculptors who constructed this mammoth work of art. From here you can venture in to the Black Hills National Forest (605-673-2251) and find even more incredible scenery and places/things to see.
- View the weather forecast for this area from Yahoo weather .
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