Explore the delights of the real Wild West
south Dakota is the stuff of wild-west legend and greatness. Awesome monuments, scenery and attractions to discover, making memories to treasure. Add these to your bucket list.
GLAMPING AT MOUNT RUSHMORE
A national monument to democracy, the huge faces of four US presidents – Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln – are intricately carved into the mountainside. Glamping with Under Canvas and touring with a local guide are insider tips to best enjoy and understand this American must-see. undercanvas.com
CRAZY ABOUT CRAZY HORSE This will be one of the world’s largest rock carvings when finished. Work started in 1948 on the monument to the great Native American people and Chief Crazy Horse of the Oglala Lakota nation. A visit to the Black Hills site in Custer
County offers a chance to delve into the culture of the Plains Indian tribes and marvel at the scale and dedication of this incredible project. Or join the next Volksmarch, a biannual hike, to be held this June.
JOIN THE BUFFALO ROUND-UP
This annual event takes place in Custer State Park each autumn and is a great chance to see the largest, privately-owned herd of 1200 buffalo thunder by as they are rounded up by cowboys on horseback. Part of a weekend festival not to miss.
JEWEL CAVE, WIND CAVE Above and below ground, these caves are natural wonders, with ranger-led tours available for both. Explore Jewel Cave, the third-longest cave in the world, and enjoy the park with nature trails above. Wind Cave is the first cave designated a national park and offers the world’s largest collection of rare boxwork formations and a wildlife sanctuary above ground.
GAMBLING, GUNSMOKE AND GOLD MINING
Visit Deadwood’s atmospheric Mt Moriah cemetery, where Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and other famous western characters are laid to rest. This historic mining town will take you back to the lawless days of the wild west, complete with activities. deadwood.com
DRIVE THE BLACK HILLS
Base yourself in Rapid City, City of Presidents, and shop for native American art and jewellery. Take the famed Needles Highway through the Black Hills on a Harley motorbike, or by car, for an unforgettable scenic drive of discovery. Continue through Spearfish Canyon to see where scenes from Dances
with Wolves were filmed. And don’t forget your camera. blackhillsbadlands.com
ALONG THE WIDE MISSOURI The mighty Missouri River cuts through the state and five different native tribal lands, along the route of explorers Lewis and Clark. It offers boating, fishing and recreational opportunities in an unbeatable natural setting, served with a wild-west history lesson on the side.
GOOD TIMES IN THE BADLANDS Natural erosion over thousands of years has carved a spectacular swathe through the landscape, creating gorges, coloured canyons and layers of sedimentary rock now preserved as Badlands National Park. See diverse wildlife and fossils, take a hike, or stay overnight in cabins in the park to capture some of the most photo-fabulous sunrises and sunsets you’ll ever see.
What: A fly/drive itinerary to South Dakota, USA When: Summer, May-october
More info: travelsouthdakota.com; greatamericanwest.com.au Book: Plan your itinerary via Adventure World Travel,
Hike the canyons to see fossils, wildlife and spectacular sunsets
Drink in the sight of Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park.
Be awed by the monumental Mount Rushmore.
Meet a real cowboy!
Watch a herd of buffalo being rounded up.
Visit the grave of folk hero Wild Bill Hickok.