This week on our adventure through South Dakota, we will look at where to play and have fun!
Badlands National Park
Sometimes you visit a place like no other, a place with a vibe that stirs something in your soul, although you can’t really put a finger on it. The Badlands is that kind of place. Geologically, it’s piles of sediment left over from an ancient sea. Culturally, it’s much more. You can’t help but wonder what the first human pondered upon seeing these bleached cliffs, spikes, valleys and ridges that stretch across the horizon. The 30-mile scenic drive loop gives you a good taste of this 244,000 acre national park. Get out and go for a hike along one of the interpretive trails. Keep in mind that it gets hot here. Very hot. Temperatures can easily soar to 48C. Water, a hat and sunscreen are mandatory.
Custer State Park
Is it more harrowing to be a driver or a passenger as you navigate Needles Highway? Only you can answer that question. The northern 14 miles of Highway 87 that passes through Custer State Park is also known as Needles Highway. And although it is only 14 miles, it will take you a solid hour to crawl through this stretch of winding concrete, hairpin curves, scenic overlooks and take-your-breath-away drop offs. The highway gets its name from the granite towers—called needles—that dominate parts of the highway. They stand tall and tight against the roadway. Sometimes, they park directly on the road, making it necessary for drivers to pass through a series of tunnels. It’s a good idea to take note of the width of your vehicle before traversing this stretch. Pick-up trucks routinely need to tuck in their side mirrors. A word of advice: if a squirrel dashes across the road, do not panic. Stay the course. And not surprisingly, the road is closed in winter.
Trial of Jack McCall
Masonic Temple, Main Street
8pm during summer
You’ll want to roll into Deadwood in the early afternoon to witness a reenactment of the most famous shoot-out in the wild west. It all happened in 1876 when Wild Bill Hickok caught a bullet in a saloon on Main Street. You’ll hear a couple of shots followed by a commotion as the law apprehends its suspect. Later that night, the trial takes place, led by a troupe of minstrels, some of whom bear a resemblance to the players in ZZ Top. If you think you’re going to sit back, relax and enjoy the show, think again. If you’re not hauled up on stage to assume the role of judge, witness or prosecution-er, you’ll be strongly encourage to sing along or shout out your judgment on the case.
Shel writes about the outdoors, travel and food when she’s not playing outside, on the road or eating. Her recent adventures have included a trip to the tundra to serve as cook at a caribou hunting camp and making a long overdue journey to Ukraine with her dad Merv. She’s the founder of a group called the Manitoba Food Bloggers as well as an avid angler and hunter. She lives in Winnipeg with her husband Ivan and their son Clark. [email protected]