16 In Traveling South Dakota

Travel South Dakota – Mt Rushmore

It has always been a dream of mine to visit and explore South Dakota. Ever since I was in middle school and watched Dances with Wolves. I’m not sure what drew me to it. Whether it was the scenery, or the idea in my head that if I went I would meet Kevin Costner, but I always wanted to go and this year that dream finally became a reality for me.

In late September, Zach, Zoie, and I headed out on a trip through several states and the first major stop on our agenda was South Dakota. With our fifth wheel in tow, we headed through the northern mountains of Idaho and the extremely beautiful state of Montana. Finally on the third day of driving, late at night, we arrived at the Mount Rushmore KOA.


It’s not every day you find an RV park that is so close to your destination and has so much grassy space to enjoy. It’s pretty typical for an RV park to have a lot of concrete space, but not here and it was wonderful.


We love staying at KOA’s because of the wonderful amenities they offer and this no exception. It was a beautiful facility with a ton of stuff to do for the kids. They have two pools, a hot tub, a water slide, basketball court, outdoor cookout area, and horseback rides, and that is only a portion of what they offer. Since we were there in the fall, and most of the warm weather activities were shut down for the year, we took full advantage of the miniature golf.

The things Zoie wanted to do most? Throw rocks in the lake and ride her bike through the trails.



The BEST part about this place?? It was only 5 miles from the Mount Rushmore National Monument. It’s the closest RV park to the National Park. Making getting there very easy!

The second day there, we were up early and ready to see the Mount Rushmore National Monument. It was just a beautiful and amazing as we imagined it would be. We spent several hours there reading the history, hiking the trails, and seeing everything we could possibly see.




We were so thankful for the shining sun! But it was BRIGHT!!





We also had the privilege of meeting a man named Nick Clifford. He is one of the few surviving men who worked to carve out this magnificent mountain. Truly an honor to meet him.


Do you remember that scene in National Treasure 2 where Nicholas Cage was climbing on the rocks behind Mount Rushmore? You know, where the back side of the monument was a lake? Did you know that’s totally fake? Well, not a fake lake, the lake exists, it’s just several miles away and doesn’t really back up to the monument. You could say I was monumentally disappointed?? Just kidding. It was still beautiful.


Just a short drive from the monument, there it is; Sylvan Lake. Surrounding the lake is a beautiful walking trail that goes all the way around. Every view from around the lake was gorgeous.




This is the real back of the lake where you are walking down below the water level. See… No faces 🙁


To end our visit with the Presidents of Mount Rushmore, we decided to take a helicopter ride around the Black Hills. Zach loves riding in helicopters and we tend to go up as often as we can. This trip was no exception.

I was lucky enough to find a great deal with a local company, Black Hills Aerial Adventures. If you decide to take an aerial tour around the Black Hills, this is the company to use. Our pilot was friendly and incredibly knowledgable. He was also from our area of the Pacific Northwest, so that was a huge plus for us. (That’s the second time this has happened!)



Seeing Mount Rushmore and the surrounding area from the sky was absolutely beautiful. We are so glad we did this. It’s a view you won’t get anywhere else.



We even flew over Sylvan Lake and got a view of some buffalo in the National Park.



While in the area, we were also able to hike through some caves, smell some pine trees (you read that right), and drive through the Badlands National Park. All of which I’ll be sharing soon.

Overall, we had an amazing time in the Black Hills part of South Dakota and would love to see it all again.


  • Reply
    Kaci Alvarez
    December 9, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Thats looks like such a nice trip! I would love to visit there! You’re pictures are stunning also!

    • Reply
      December 9, 2015 at 9:17 am

      Thank you! We had a great time, I highly recommend a visit for everyone 🙂

  • Reply
    December 9, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Very cool. I love your shots from the air. We drove through the area last year, but we didn’t even stop at Mount Rushmore – there were just too many people there. We did explore the black hills a bit, which we loved. I’m sure we would have loved Sylvan Lake too!

    • Reply
      December 9, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      We were there in the fall which I think made a huge difference in the number of people visiting. There were a lot of people, but nothing like in the summer.

  • Reply
    Taylor DuVall
    December 9, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    These pictures are gorgeous. I’ve never stayed in a KOA before, but it’s on my bucket list for next year!

    • Reply
      December 9, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      We love KOA’s, we started staying there because of the wifi offered so my husband could work from the road, now we stay because we love it 🙂

  • Reply
    December 9, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Wow, what natural beauty! I had no idea SD looked like this!!

    • Reply
      December 9, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Same here. I always thought it was more flat, and most of it is, but this part is beautiful.

  • Reply
    Danielle Greco
    December 9, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    That fact about the lake is crazy!!! That movie is great 🙂 . Mt rushmore is super neat, we saw it for the first time a month ago!!
    Danielle Greco AccordingtoD.com

    • Reply
      December 9, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      I hope you enjoyed your time there! I love that movie, I was a little disappointed.

  • Reply
    Carol Cassara
    December 9, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    I love the diversity of our country and so much natural beauty. I need to go to SD~!

    • Reply
      December 9, 2015 at 6:04 pm

      Me too! We love seeing this country. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Reply
    December 9, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Oh wow what a great experience! I’ve never really considered going to South Dakota but might now after reading this!

    • Reply
      December 10, 2015 at 9:26 am

      It is worth the trip for sure!

  • Reply
    Karolina Kornell
    December 10, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I’m so glad when I stumble upon posts like this. There’s so many places to visit here in the US that you have no idea of! I’m bookmarking this for future roadtripping:)


    • Reply
      December 10, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Thank you for stopping by 🙂

    Leave a Reply