Travelers: Charmaine and Chris
Type: Honeymoon to the Black Hills
Budget: Budget ($500-$1000)
What did you do? We have a love for the outdoors. A marriage quest that we have decided to embark on is to visit as many National Parks as we can over the course of our marriage. We thought, “Why not start in our own state?” Yes, why not. I planned early to get us the best rates and made an itinerary of the things we both wanted to do, as a guideline for our trip… and yes we did make time to step away from the itinerary!
We drove across the great state of South Dakota to the Black Hills. I had never been before, and my husband had only been out a few times but never to sight see. As we were on a tight budget it was something fairly close to home. We booked our lodging (and paid for most of it) before we left. With only gas, food, and entertainment to worry about, we were able to have a much more relaxed time knowing we were not going to “bust the bank” by enjoying ourselves!
We drove through the Badlands National Park, and stopped to take some pictures, but not much else as we were very excited to get to our destination. We arrived at Sylvan Lake Lodge in Custer State Park, and were so happy to enjoy their honeymoon cabin for our first night. It was spectacular — the view, the ambiance… magical!
We enjoyed a quiet hike around Sylvan Lake and enjoyed a marvelous meal at the lodge. We are avid foodies, so we ate and drank very well.
The next morning we decided, though it wasn’t on our itinerary, to hike Harney Peak, the tallest point between the Rocky Mountains and the Alps. We agreed we were up for the challenge and started out early. (The trailhead is at Sylvan Lake.) We left at 8am and made the mighty trek to Harney Peak… there were difficulties but it was SO worth it!
It is said you can see South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska from the top. Once we made our way down, we drove the Needles Highway south and proceeded to Wind Cave National Park, and we enjoyed a spectacular cave tour. We had been to the highest point and the lowest point in one day!
We leisurely drove the Wilderness Loop in Custer and saw deer, antelope, turkey, wild donkey, and more. It was an absolute joy.
We drove to Hill City, South Dakota and boarded the 1880 Train for a trip to Keystone. There is just something about a steam engine train that makes you feel like a kid! It was a beautiful ride.
We stayed in Keystone for lunch and had a Wild West photo taken. When we returned to Hill City, we explored the many winery tasting rooms and brought some of our favorites home.
We saw Mount Rushmore — it was breathtaking! I was mesmerized by the size and artistry. We walked the Presidents Trail that leads you to different areas to view the monument.
We drove Iron Mountain road with its pigtail loops and mountain tunnels. Then we went to Cosmos Mystery Area to experience the odd gravitational pull and toured Rushmore caves before settling in at the Powder House Lodge.
We enjoyed a walk through historic downtown Deadwood. We stayed at the Martin Mason Inn and enjoyed our last evenings meal at the Midnight Star, owned by Kevin Costner.
We drove home, again going though the Badlands National Park… only this time we hiked some. It was a week of great food, great fun, and adventure!