Explore Better with the Wandering Whartons: Family Adventure in South Dakota
If you’re looking for adventure, education, and relaxation all in one trip, South Dakota could be your destination. My son Wyatt and I loved exploring this region’s National Parks and fossil sites. It was special to experience so much wildlife, old and new, together. Here’s how we spent our 3 days road-tripping through South Dakota:
Exploring Wind Cave National Park
We began our trip in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Our first stop was Mammoth Site, a museum for Paleontology lovers young and old. It features over 60 mammoth fossils, an active dig site, and a kids dig program. A short 20 minutes from the Mammoth Site is Wind Cave National Park. Most of this underrated national park is underground! I highly recommend the Garden of Eden tour; it was a highlight on our trip. After an afternoon of adventure, we made the two hour drive to Badlands National Park (with a quick stop in Rapid City for dinner).
Visiting Badlands National Park
You’ll want to spend the whole day exploring Badlands National Park. It takes about 2-4 hours to drive the entire scenic loop, including many stops at overlooks. We stopped at Cedar Pass Restaurant for the views and delicious Sioux Tacos. After exploring the park, we made sure to stop and shop at the famous Wall Drug. The family-friendly atmosphere makes for a fun evening wrap-up.
Exploring Rapid City, SD
The drive from Badlands National Park is stunning. Take your time on the road! In Rapid City, we went to explore the quaint Chapel in the Hills. The Chapel is a reproduction of the famous Borund Stavkirke in Laedal, Norway and is made completely out of wood. We ended our day with a visit to Custer State Park. There is a multitude to enjoy at this amazing park including hiking, camping, fishing and wildlife viewing.