Travel Assignments, Weekend Trips

Rapid City, SD: Rushmore & More

If there is one thing I love, it is a good road trip. Despite the fact that I drove 1500+ miles from California to North Dakota and I will be driving about the same to Philadelphia in just a couple of weeks, I absolutely love the journey (just as much as the destination).

During my first month here in Bismarck I was still getting to know people and trying to find a tribe who I could get together with on weekends. SO. On a random Saturday in April I woke up and randomly decided to take a road trip to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore! There was really no specific reason why I wanted to see Mount Rushmore – It was more of a “why not?” type of moment.

The road to South Dakota from North Dakota was long, flat, and if I am being completely honest there were several moments when I prayed I did not lose reception because I was pretty sure my life could turn to a serial killer movie reaaaal quick if it got dark. As I typically do when I am road tripping, I thought a lot about the past few months and again the things that brought me out here. That is one really cool thing about driving… it gives me that space without distractions. It is just me, myself, and I with the sound of music or podcast or audiobooks accompanying me.

The drive was around 6 hours total. I made two stops on the trip, once to get gas and the other to eat something. The town where I got food was sooo tiny that there was only one restaurant! I got a delicious breakfast there including buffalo sausage which was by far the most juicy and flavorful sausage I have ever had 🤤

My breakfast at the “mystery restaurant” aka the ONE restaurant in the ONE town I drove through lol.

Mount Rushmore is located right near Keystone, SD which is in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. It is honestly a beautiful area, lots of greenery and trees. The day I went it was freeeezing cold, in the low 30s. Even though it was not snowing that day, there was snow on the walkway over to the monument.

When you park at Mount Rushmore keep in mind it is $10! There was ample parking though. It is a brief walk to the viewing area of the monument. On the walk there are a bunch of flags representing the states as well as plaques with information about when each state was founded.

Mount Rushmore itself looked a lot smaller than I pictured it being! It still took my breath away though. The fact that so many Americans have traveled to see it (there were people of all different cultures and backgrounds there – some of which were listening to an audio tour of the monument) still made it special for me to get to see. I couldn’t help but feel so much gratitude once more for the path of travel social work I have found myself on.

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore… and me.

After seeing Mount Rushmore and taking pictures OF COURSE I had to eat dinner. I was told that Firehouse Brewing Co. was delicious so I decided to go there. I got the bison burger there… what can I say? I like experimenting with different kinds of steak I guess 😂 It was absolutely delicious as was everything I got during the entire trip.

Dinner from Firehouse Brewing Co.

Originally I had every intention of driving back right after seeing Mt. Rushmore but after I had eaten dinner I eventually decided that it would be wise to stay the night in an AirBnB. I stayed here and the view was absolutely gorgeous. The place was so spacious too… I had a 2 bed + 2 bath all to myself. There was a pool table, a full kitchen… it was pretty awesome. I slept like a baby in the memory foam bed! 😴

The view from my AirBnB in Rapid City.

The next morning I basically woke up and left. First I got breakfast though! I went to Tally’s Silver Spoon which was recommended to me by the AirBnB hosts. I don’t know who Tally is, but I love her taste in pancake batter… they were DIVINE. I didn’t even take a picture because I dove right in! I will say though, prepare to wait a bit because Tally’s is a prime brunch spot in the area.

After driving back I will say that coming back to the AirBnB I have called home on this trip was nice. After all, home is where the heart is. Or in this case, where I sleep better 😂

Have any of you seen Mount Rushmore? What were your thoughts on it? If I could go back to South Dakota I would probably see Deadwood and even stay there. I hear it’s a really cool little gambling town (not that I am into gambling but none the less). Maybe another time 😀 Let me know if you end up using any of my recommendations!

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