Friday, November 6, 2015

A Visit to the Wild West-Deadwood, SD

What a great little place to spend a few days while visiting this part of the country.  Even Deadwood's origins are illegal.  The Black Hills had been given to the Lakota Indians in 1868 but Custer's discovery of gold soon led to an illegal settlement in 1870.  Land disputes are still ongoing and have reached the United States Supreme Court on several occasions.  It set the stage for what was to become a lawless mining town that would spawn folklore and legends that live on today.  After its sordid past and a bout of smallpox and a devastating fire, Deadwood struggled to survive and hit some very hard times which came to an end in 1989 when the town legalized gambling and their financial troubles came to an end.  In spite of, or perhaps, because of, its colorful past, modern day Deadwood is a fun little town to visit.
A view of downtown Deadwood.

Accommodations are many and varied but try to stay in town so that you can walk everywhere.  There are plenty of great restaurants located in its environs that run the gamut in quality and price.  We ate at the Gem Steakhouse and the Deadwood Social Club.  They were both wonderful, reservations recommended.  Also Mustang Sally's was great for lunch. The casinos all have restaurants also so you certainly won't go hungry in Deadwood.

While visiting, take a tour and learn all about the characters and folklore of the town, we really enjoyed it.  Of course, Deadwood's most famous citizens were Wild Bill Hickok, whose shooting in reenacted every day, and Calamity Jane whose relationship with Wild Bill is still the matter of much speculation.  Both are buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery which sits high above the town and has some great views.  There is a great little museum downtown if you want to learn more about the personalities and history of the area.  

The graves of Deadwood's most famous citizens, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane

We used Deadwood as our base to visit the surrounding area.  Of course Mount Rushmore, is a must see as is, the Crazy Horse Memorial.  The latter is still in progress and probably will not see completion in my lifetime but it is impressive and completely privately funded.  From time to time, there are blastings at night and you can watch.  I am told it is really a neat thing to see.  My personal favorite, in this area was the Needles Highway in Custer State Park.  The views are rock formations are just stunning and of course there is wildlife everywhere.  While visiting the area we saw antelope, wild horses, wild burros, mountain sheep and of course, American Bison.  Most of them are harmless and will run should you get too close but be very wary of the bison, they can, and do, get very aggressive.  Do not get out of your car unless they are a good distance away.  People are hurt every year because they get to close and I, for one, do not want roughly 1400 pounds charging at me.  
Looks just like it does in pictures.

The wild burros walk right up to people.

Needles Highway

We left Deadwood with some reluctance and traveled through the South Dakota Badlands on our way to Sioux Falls for our flight home.  The Badlands are beautiful and desolate and also full of wildlife and it made a fitting ending to a great trip to the wild, wild west.
The Badlands

Couldn't believe how well these animals blend with the rocks.

Until next time, safe travels!