Amazing Sights at Angkor In Cambodia
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Angkor is a UNESCO protected city and the largest archaeological sites in South East Asia stretching in an area of 400 km. It is a destination which has the remains of the Khmer regime and the parks, temples and hydraulic structures mesmerize you with its sheer grandeur and splendour. Every year millions tourist cross flock to this amazing fairy tale land and enter Angkor Wat, the largest religious  [...]

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The Real Road Trip Of South Dakota

Posted on November 5, 2009 | Remarkable Drives5 Comments

Stunningly beautiful sights, abundant wildlife, sturdy mountains, striking roads and amazing parks with a rich history is what the southwest segment of South Dakota is all about, when it comes to a long drive.


When ground route was the sole mode of transportation for the people of this country, South Dakota named the Grand Central Station of the American west. The preamble into the east indicates the start of a beautiful journey in two astonishing but different panoramas starting from buttes of Badlands, evergreen mountains, rodents-filled Prairie Dog town, and some beautifully designed highways. The famous Mount Rushmore carved to scare motorists out of South Dakota, attracts around three million viewers each year. According to Kapco, director of Adams Museum, Visitors arrive to get a glimpse of Mount Rushmore but they find how gorgeous everything else is in the region.

Start at Rapid City

Start from highway I-90 towards east and take the Exit 131 towards entrance of Badlands National Park (+1 605 433 5361) from northwest. Next to the Park lie spires of ragged sandstone in layers of red, purple and orange rock specifying their age. Despite of wild flowers and rock nesting swallows, the quarter mile Window Trail attracts a number of hikers. An excellent source of information is the park’s Ben Reifel Visitor Center that mentions park geology as well as the history of old human civilizations of 19th Century who tried farming on barren land. Circle View Guest Ranch towards the south of park border presents an opportunity for travelers to bunk down like a homesteader in the rural cabin of 1889.

Rapid City

Prairie Dog Town for Rodents ?

The path to this town is quite remote and often missed by the park goers. Following the grate Sage Creek Rim Road drops you at Prairie Dog town, where numerous rodents sit on the edge of their burrows whole day even in the close presence of a bison.


Many tourists have been allured by the famous Wall Drug Store (+1 605 279 2175) in Wall since 1931. The West is now involved in stocking quality camping gear and Lucchese cowboy boots ($500 each pair). However, their classic souvenir “jack-a-lope” (a hare’s head with antlers like antelope), polished remnant and sheriff’s badge can be still found here in Wall.

Mount Rushmore National Monument

Moving again in the direction of Rapid City, turn southward through highway 16 and drive ahead till you reach Mount Rushmore National Monument (+1 605 574 2523). The original sculptor of Stone Mountain in Georgia, Gutzon Borglum, carved some great Presidents like Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt on a stone mountain 5,725 foot tall. The way from the mountain foot offers magnificent view of the Presidential Trail. The sculptor’s studio falls just ahead where rangers describe about the making of the monument done by blasting, chiseling and smoothing process for 14 years by 400 men and women without any fatalities.

mount rushmore

Custer State Park

Coming back to the highway, drive through the Iron Mountain Road (Highway 16A) that squirms around the sandstone spires and from the tunnel that borders the monument in your rearview mirror. Turning westward will bring you in the Custer State Park where preserved granite, prairie, and pine are spread across 71,000 acres. 18-mile drive through the park’s Wildlife Loop Road will make your car halt to view the grasslands that feeds a herd of bison as big as 1,500 and other animals like bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and mountain goats. Take a walk on the route to observe the lovely summer wildflowers blooming from the Prairie Trail of three-mile.

Custer State Park

Needles Parkway or Needles Twist-way

If you are hungry, take a break from driving and park at sage Creek Grill (+1 605 673 2424), which is on the western edge of the park through Highway 16, where you get served region’s best buffalo burger. After refueling yourself drive along the Needles Highway which entwines strikingly from the granite spires for 13 long miles. For people who love to drive, this is probably the best highway to drive on with amazing sites. A slight twist in the rod will drop you on the Cathedral Spires Trail which is a three-mile round-trip elevated way from ponderosa pines and granite stones. The Harney Peak, state’s tallest mountain of 7,242-foot, is clearly visibly from the edge of the mountain. Enjoy the site and move towards the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Crazy Horse Memorial for Rushmore

Exit the Parkway and move west towards Custer, then take a five-mile drive to north. You will reach the visitor center of Crazy Horse Memorial. Still under Construction, this memorial is an answer by Native Americans to commemorate of Rushmore, a 19th Century warrior of Lakota, who fought hard to safeguard the traditional values of the tribal. The tribal craftspeople here, sell beaded jewelry and wooden carvings made by them.

Crazy horse

Deadwood Show

Following the Northbound 385 will straightly lead you to the town called Deadwood. The Old Style Saloon #10 (657 Main Street; +1 605 578 3346) still stages every day, reenactments of Wild Bill Hickok’s murder on the poker table. All visitors and viewers are allowed to play a game of poker, if they want to.

Road Kit

The entangled scenic roads throughout the route from the edges of Badlands Byway to the 13-miles entwined Needles Highway displays amazing engineering of South Dakota along with the historic monuments and parkways. The best way to reach Black hills and Badlands is through an airport in Rapid City. The most favorable period to drive this journey is summer, early fall or late spring. Spare some days time for hiking through the sturdy mountains to experience the real spirit of southern South Dakota.

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  • Tony says:

    Good idea for an article, but I think someone needs to proofread the translation. Many sentences are barely understandable.

  • Brendan M. says:

    Great article, glad to see South Dakota getting some attention. As a native South Dakotan it gives me a lot of joy and pride to see the state getting some press.

    SD really does have a lot to offer and see, (albeit most of it IS in the west side of the state, in the Black Hills and the Badlands).

    From Murdo, SD east to Mitchell and Sioux Falls is probably the most boring drive you will ever take, but you may enjoy it if you like vast spans of plains and nothingness.

    Sioux Falls is the biggest city and one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest, if not the USA. (Two years ago Lincoln county of Sioux Falls was in the top 5 of fastest growing counties in the USA). The standard of living is very high, low crime and good salary and wages and a very competitive job market make it a great place to live and raise a family.

    (Let it be said I’m not from Sioux Falls, but rather Rapid City, however I am a bit biased for SF). I’ve always said that if you put the city of Sioux Falls in the Black Hills it’d be one of the best cities in the USA!)

    But anyways, come visit us here in the 605, we’ll treat you good and you won’t regret the visit!

  • Chester Cool says:

    That’s a good walkthrough for beginners. I’ve been there to Mount Rushmore before and I think that a great sculpture that I saw which is very inspiring. It is really one of the most beautiful scenery in South Dakota.

  • bobStraight says:

    I lived in South Dakota most of my life too. Lived in Sioux Falls, Pierre, and Rapid City. Rapid and the Black Hills is definitely the place to visit.

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