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On The Road: National Parks, Monuments and Energy Sources of South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming

Program Number: 1935RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/12/2014 - 7/19/2014;
Duration: 7 nights
Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
Price starting at: $1,469.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: On the Road; National Parks Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 18; 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 5 Dinners    

Capture the spirit of the West where pioneers, explorers and ranchers forged American ideals of adventure and rugged individualism. In South Dakota, experience Mount Rushmore and the other-worldly beauty of Badlands National Park. Walk the trail at Wyoming’s Devils Tower, our country’s first National Monument, and marvel at American technological innovation at North Dakota’s massive wind, oil, coal and gas energy complexes. Visit two state capitols, dine on a Missouri River paddle wheeler and delve into the heritage of the Native Americans who inhabited these lands centuries ago.


• See a reconstruction of Gen. George Custer’s base for his ill-fated campaign against the Plains Indians at the Little Bighorn.
• At the Burning Hills Amphitheater, take in the Medora Musical, an extravaganza of horses, cowboys and music.
• Discuss clean-energy technology at the Wilton Wind Farm, where you view 260-foot-tall wind towers fitted with 120-foot blades.

Activity Particulars

Walking one to two miles per day, frequent getting on/off coach.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Rapid City, S.D., 2 nights; coach to Pierre, 1 night; coach to Bismarck, N.D., 2 nights; coach to Medora, 1 night; coach to Rapid City, S.D., 1 night; departure.

Coordinated by South Dakota and Regional Traveling Studies.


 Situated in the heart of South Dakota on the Missouri River, Pierre has been the state capital since South Dakota gained statehood on Nov. 11, 1889. In the days before, among its rolling hills and prairies of the Great Plains, Lewis and Clark first met the Teton Sioux in what is today’s Pierre.


Situated on the banks of the Missouri River in south-central North Dakota, this area served as the winter camp for the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804­1805, and today, this growing state capital honors its place in the exploration of the West and the land’s native and pioneer history through historic sites and museums.


Despite a year-round population of 112, Medora, N.D., swells in the summer as a premier family entertainment destination. Renowned for its lively nightly musical, Medora pays homage to Theodore Roosevelt, who lived in the area for 18 years before he became the youngest president in U.S. history at age 42.

Rapid City

Founded by gold prospectors in 1876, this center for commerce, culture and education for the high plains region also boasts rich Old West history and a premier location near major Black Hills and Wyoming attractions, including Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse National monuments, as well as Wind Cave National Park.

Comfortable, conveniently located hotels and motels.
Meals and Lodgings
   Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
  Rapid City, South Dakota 2 nights
   ClubHouse Inn
  Pierre, SD 1 night
   Comfort Inn
  Bismarck, ND 2 nights
   Badlands Motel/TRMF
  Medora, ND 1 night
   Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
  Rapid City, South Dakota 1 night
 Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
Type: Hotel
  Description: Six to seven blocks from downtown Rapid City with easy access off I-90.
  Contact info: 950 North Street
Rapid City, SD 57701 USA
phone: 888-578-4657 xor6057374656
  Room amenities: Rooms have hair dryers, internet access, iron and cable TV.
  Facility amenities: Indoor pool, hot tub, exercise room, lounge and guest laundry. No restaurant/dining room at this hotel. Nearest restaurant is about three blocks.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for current prices. Call hotel directly for pre & post prices and reservations at 888-578-4657 or 605-737-4656.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for current prices. Call hotel directly for pre & post prices and reservations at 888-578-4657 or 605-737-4656.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

 ClubHouse Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: New hotel, opened in 2012. Located close to the Missouri River and walking paths along the river. Within walking distance (one to ten blocks) to a variety of dining options ranging from fast food to sit down service, grocery store and postoffice.
  Contact info: 808 West Sioux Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501 USA
phone: 605-494-2582 x8002582466
  Room amenities: Large work desk and ergonomic desk chair, iPod/iPhone docking/charging station, clock radio, hair dryer, in-room microwave, refrigerator and coffee service.
  Facility amenities: Complimentary deluxe continental breakfast, complimentary wireless Internet throughout hotel, complimentary newspaper, 24/7 fitness center, indoor water play land, pool and whirlpool, free area and airport shuttle, free parking, RedRossa Italian Grille adjacent to hotel, room service available, and bicycles available for guests to ride along the bike path (check with front desk for details).
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Comfort Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: The hotel within walking distance of Gateway Mall and various restaurants. The hotel offers free shuttle service to medical facilities, check with the front desk staff if shuttle service is available to restaurants further away from the hotel.
  Contact info: 1030 E Interstate Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58501 USA
phone: 701-223-1911
  Room amenities: Guest rooms all have free high-speed Internet access; coffee maker; hair dryer; iron; ironing board; telephone and cable television. Handicap accessible room available upon request.
  Facility amenities: Enjoy relaxing in the indoor heated pool and hot tub as well as checking-out the game room. The hotel's lounge and casino are open nightly and offer happy hour specials.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Badlands Motel/TRMF
Type: Motel
  Description: The motel is located within The North Dakota Badlands. Fantastic view just outside your door. Great little tourist town in the busy summer. Theodore Roosevelt National Park and visitor's center is the main historical aspect of the town.
  Contact info: 1 Main Street
Medora, ND 58645 USA
phone: 800-633-6721
  Room amenities: TV and telephones in each room, individual controlled heat and air conditioning. Hair dryer, iron and free coffee available at the front desk.
  Facility amenities: Outdoor swimming pool and all ground floor rooms.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Meet your Road Scholar Director in the hotel hospitality room between 4:15 and 4:30 p.m. You will be staying at Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites that night.
  End of Program:
Continental breakfast available at hotel (starts at 6:30am) prior to independent departures. You will be staying at Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free outdoor parking is available at hotel. The hotel and SDRTS do not accept liability for cars in parking lot while gone.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Rapid City, South Dakota
  Nearest city or town:  Sturgis, South Dakota
  Nearest highway: Interstate 90
  Nearest airport:  Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP)
  From End of Program
  Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

To hotel in Rapid City


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Airport Express Shuttle
phone: 800-357-9998 xor6053999999


Per Person/One Way:


Hotel will provide vouchers for shuttle transportation to the hotel. Driver tip not included.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 to 30 minutes. 




Approximately 7 miles.


Advanced reservations are suggested but not required from the airport to the hotel. The hotel will give the shuttle driver a voucher for your fare to and from the airport-you do not have to do anything with the vouchers. A tip for the driver is NOT included. You should tip the driver individually.


To airport from hotel in Rapid City


To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Airport Express Shuttle
phone: 800-357-9998 xor6053999999
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Hotel will provide vouchers for shuttle transportation back to airport. Driver tip not included.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 to 20 minutes one way. 




Approximately 7 miles.


Advanced reservations are required returning to the airport from the hotel. Contact the front desk staff to make the return reservation for you. The hotel will give the shuttle driver a voucher for your fare to and from the airport-you do not have to do anything with the vouchers. A tip for the driver is NOT included. You should tip the driver individually.

Driving Directions
  West or East on I-90 Take Exit 57 to Exit 1C. Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites is located on the left. When coming to Rapid City from the South via Highway 79, turn left at Catron Blvd (truck bypass) to Mount Rushmore Road and follow this street all the way through town until North Street, turn left, one block to the hotel.
Elevation Note: Elevation in feet: Rapid City is 3,202; Mount Rushmore 5,280; Crazy Horse 6,240; Devils Tower 4,250.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Visit The Journey Museum, dinner at the museum 6:30 p.m., orientation to follow.
(Saturday, July 12)
 Afternoon: Meet in hotel's designated room for Road Scholar Welcome between 4:15 and 4:30 p.m. At 4:45 p.m. board the motorcoach the Journey Museum.
If your arrival time to the HOTEL is between 4:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., ask the airport shuttle to take you directly to the Journey Museum instead of the hotel. Ask the shuttle driver if he/she will take your luggage to the hotel and collect the voucher at the hotel front desk.
If your arrival time is after 6:45 p.m., take the shuttle directly to the hotel since you will miss dinner and orientation.
 Dinner: The Journey Museum takes you on an incredible trek through time, from the violent upheaval that formed the mystical Black Hills over 2.5 billion years ago to the continuing saga of the Western Frontier. The museum brings together four major prehistoric and historic collections to tell the complete story of the Western Great Plains - from the perspective of the Lakota people and the pioneers who shaped its past, to the scientists who now study it. Discover where dinosaurs lie buried beneath the prairie soil, learn why the Sioux called their sacred Black Hills the “Center of the Universe” and experience the hardships of the homesteaders as they settled the formidable wilderness. When your journey is complete, you will fully understand the legacy of the land and its people.
Accommodations: Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Mount Rushmore & Crazy Horse/Custer State Park and The Mammoth Site
(Sunday, July 13)

Note: Walk up to a total one to two miles throughout the day. All level sidewalks at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse viewing terraces, museums, and restaurants. Sidewalks and 140 steps each way at Mount Rushmore's Presidential Trail (this is an additional and optional walk).

 Breakfast: Deluxe continental breakfast with both hot and cold breakfast items: cereals, breads, pastries, protein, fruits and juices.
 Morning: Mount Rushmore National Memorial: The majestic 60-foot faces of four U.S. presidents gaze out over South Dakota’s Black Hills. Recognized worldwide, they stand as a symbol of American democracy. This national treasure tells the story of the United States’ rich history, rugged determination and lasting achievement. From the Grandview Terrace, the views are spectacular of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Walk the half-mile Presidential Trail that loops along the base of the mountain. Discover why the four presidents were selected, see how the mountain was carved and learn about sculptor Gutzon Borglum and the workers who brought Mount Rushmore to life. Between 1927 and 1941, Gutzon Borglum and approximately 400 workers sculpted the 60-foot busts of the Presidents.

Crazy Horse Memorial: A fifth granite face has emerged in the Black Hills. The colossal Crazy Horse mountain carving is now in progress. Crazy Horse is the largest sculptural undertaking ever – on a scale with the Egyptian pyramids. When completed, it will tower 563 feet high, 641 feet long and be carved in the round. Watch history in the making as drilling and blasting continue on the rest of the sculpture.
In 1939, Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear invited sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to carve an Indian memorial in the Black Hills. Through Korczak died in 1982, the sculptor’s wife and family continue the non-profit project.
 Lunch: Elegant, yet casual is your lunch stop today. Custer State Park Game Lodge offers genuine Buffalo Stew along with numerous buffet items. Enjoy a variety of salads, soup, hot bar selections and wonderful, tasty desserts.
 Afternoon: Travel through Custer State Park after lunch. Custer State Park covers 71,000 acres, making it one of the largest state parks in the nation. From its northern sector, in the shadow of 7,242-foot-high Harney Peak, to the forest, meadows and prairies of its southeast corner, Custer State Park offers a splendid route featuring pigtail bridges, granite tunnels that frame the faces of Mount Rushmore and curves that wind along a road that experts said couldn't be built.
Watch for bison, one of the largest publicly owned bison herds in the country numbering between 1,000 to 1,200, pronghorn or antelope, mule and whitetail deer, burros, coyotes, wild turkeys, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and golden eagles.

Discover the Mammoths and experience America's greatest Ice Age Treasure at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD. The Mammoth site, with a 36,000 square foot visitor center, is an in-situ (bones left as found) Ice Age museum containing the largest concentration of Columbian and Woolly Mammoths found in their primary context in the world. Imagine walking the edges of a 26,000-year-old sinkhole where mammoths, bears, loins, and wolves once walked. The Muller Exhibit Hall features fascinating exhibits: a full-sized Columbian mammoth replica, a walk-in bone shelter, and skeletons of now-extinct carnivores; the giant short-faced bear and the American lion. Get a glimpse of the scientific work conducted downstairs in the state of the art lab. The Mammoth Site has been featured on Discovery Channel, CBS and NBC Evening News, Today Show, BBC Television programs, and in many magazines, including National Geographic. The site has co-hosted international symposiums and conferences, as well as published scientific Quaternary research books.
 Dinner: Catered dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Free time after dinner to check out some of the historical places within walking distance of the hotel. Swim in the indoor pool or just relax and get ready for another busy day.
Accommodations: Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Badlands National Park, Wall Drug, South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center, and South Dakota State Capitol.
(Monday, July 14)

Note: Walk up one to two miles today on sidewalks, boardwalks, all flat terrain. You will be in-and-out of the motor coach numerous times at picture stops, Badlands overlooks, museums, restaurants, hotels and the Capitol. You will carry your own luggage to and from the coach and hotels.

 Breakfast: Deluxe continental breakfast with both hot and cold breakfast items: cereals, breads, pastries, protein, fruits and juices.
 Morning: Enjoy the trip from Rapid City via Wall, SD (Wall Drug) and Badlands National Park to Pierre via the vast open spaces of South Dakota. Visit the State Historical Museum, SD Capital.

Enjoy the beautiful scenic drive through Badlands National Park. The Lakota Indians knew the place as mako sica. Early French trappers called the area les mauvaises terres a traverser. Both mean "bad lands." A conservation writer, Freeman Tilden, described the region as "peaks and valleys of delicately banded colors-colors that shift in the sunshine....and a thousand tints that color charts do not show."

Paleontologist Thaddeus Culbertson had another reaction: "Fancy yourself on the hottest day in summer in the hottest spot of such a place without water--without an animal and scarce an insect astir--without a single flower to speak pleasant things to you and you will have some idea of the utter loneliness of the Bad Lands." This area is one of the richest in fossils in the world ranging from the massive rhinoceros, Metamynodon, to a small squirrel-like rodent called Ischromys. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright said this: "I've been about the world a lot, and pretty much over our own country, but I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Bad Lands...What I saw gave me an indescribable sense of mysterious elsewhere-a distant architecture, ethereal..., an endless supernatural world more spiritual than earth but created out of it."

Some describe some of the areas and features of the Badlands as a "moonscape."
 Lunch: Enjoy your tasty sack lunch at a comfortable rest area after leaving the Badlands.
 Afternoon: Visit the South Dakota State Historical Museum. Learn about "Oyate Tawichoian" or "the ways of the people" of South Dakota at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center. State-of-the-art exhibits bring the American Indian, pioneer, political and military history of South Dakota to life.

Tour the South Dakota State Capitol: The impressive Greek Ionic structure was built in 1910, at a cost of just under $1,000,000. The elaborate interior features Greek and Roman designs. Marble wainscoting and columns, terrazzo tile floor, Victorian leaded glass and grass door fixtures create a grand and distinguished look. Adjacent to the grounds sits Capitol Lake, an artesian lake that serves as a resting place for thousands of migratory geese each fall. View the WW II, Korean and Vietnam Memorials and the flaming fountain that glows perpetually, as a memorial to all veterans. Take a walk past the Fighting Stallions Memorial, built as a lasting tribute to the eight South Dakotans who lost their lives in a plane crash on April 19, 1993.
 Dinner: Enjoy dinner at Pierre's newest restaurant, RedRossa Italian Grille (dinner is on your own tonight) located adjacent to your hotel. Other choices within walking distance include several fast food places and family restaurants. Your leader will discuss and point out dining options before arriving at the hotel.
 Evening: Your evening is free to take a walk along the Missouri River just a couple of blocks from the hotel and possibly envision meeting Lewis and Clark just around the bend or just stay in and relax at the hotel. Indoor pool and fitness center available in hotel.
Accommodations: ClubHouse Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Travel the Lewis and Clark trail into North Dakota; cross the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, listen to local experts at Fort Lincoln, Custer House and On-A-Slant Indian Village, dinner and riverboat cruise.
(Tuesday, July 15)

Note: Numerous stops today require walking (level terrain) at museums, riverboat, lunch stop, and Fort Lincoln all adding up to at least one to two miles. Some stairs at the Custer House Site. You will carry your own luggage to and from the coach.

 Breakfast: Eat hearty at the expanded continental breakfast in the hotel's Great Room. Included are hot and cold items, fruit, juices, protein and a variety of breads and pasties. Breakfast is served in the Great Room of the hotel.
 Morning: Before leaving the Pierre area, re-live history as you learn about the Bad River Site incident where history could have easily changed and the Lewis and Clark expedition could have ended right there in present day Fort Pierre, SD.
Find out who discovered the Verendrye Plate and how this lead plate would have changed the size of the United States if found sooner.

Travel from Pierre, South Dakota to Bismarck, North Dakota often alongside the Missouri River.
Learn about the land, the agricultural crops, cattle and the people who live and work here.

Your morning stop near Mobridge, SD includes an Indian Casino, rest break only. Continue traveling along the Missouri River (Lake Oahe) through Standing Rock Sioux Reservation located in both South and North Dakota.
There are approximately 8,500 people, mainly members of the Dakota and Lakota nations, living on the reservation. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe became a reservation on March 2, 1889.
See the granite bust of Sitting Bull, hear his life story and then decide where you think he is buried and is it important?
 Lunch: Enjoy a delicious buffet lunch at the Prairie Knights Casino. This casino is owned and operated by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
 Afternoon: Explore Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park: Within the 75-acre park are the reconstructions of General George Custer's home, infantry blockhouses, commissary and On-A-Slant Indian Village.

Find out about the peaceful Mandan Indians that originally inhabited the village between 1650 and 1750 from a local expert as they take you through the Indian Earth Lodges.

In the early 1870s, infantry and cavalry posts were established here to protect frontier settlements and railroad surveyors. It was from Forth Lincoln on May 17, 1987, that General George Custer and the 7th Cavalry rode out on the ill-fated campaign against the Plains Indians as the Little Bighorn. Discover the real story of General and Mrs. Custer on the plains through the high-energy interpretive visit to Custer's House (replica).
 Dinner: Dine while you cruise the Missouri River. Enjoy a small buffet style dinner with fellow travelers aboard the Lewis & Clark Riverboat.
 Evening: Unwind as you travel the Missouri River in a paddle wheeler called the "Lewis & Clark Riverboat." You can get a perfect view from the open upper deck or relax in the climate-controlled lower deck.
The Riverboat offers a non-smoking environment and restrooms on board. It has been operating in the Bismarck-Mandan area for 18 years. This particular riverboat has a flat-bottomed steel hull and is powered by two Cummins diesel engines providing you with a most comfortable, smooth and enjoyable evening cruise.
Accommodations: Comfort Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Follow the Energy Trail: Wind, Coal and Man made Natural Gas; Fort Mandan; Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
(Wednesday, July 16)

Note: Walking up to one to two miles again today along with several stops where you will be standing and listening to interpretive speakers both indoor and outdoors. Walk to dinner (dinner is on own) within one to six blocks of your hotel.

 Breakfast: The hotel offers a tasty, expanded continental breakfast this morning. Includes both hot and cold breakfast items, pastries, fruit, protein and juices.
 Morning: Start your North Dakota Energy Trail learning experience with NextEra Energy Resources Wilton Wind Field, one of the region’s largest wind energy projects. Get a close-up view of the 260-foot tall wind towers, each with three 120-foot long blades weighing over 7 tons, capable of generating 48.5 megawatts of power. Learn about the pros and cons of this type of energy resource. Basin Electric Power Cooperative is the sole purchaser of electricity from this project.

At the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, in Washburn, you will get an overview of the Expedition with special emphasis on displays that include Native American Artifacts, a buffalo robe that visitors can try on, as well as a cradle-board, and an original "hasp." The Center's Bergquist Gallery, one of only four galleries in the world to house a complete collection, rotates the prints of Karl Bodmer on a seasonal basis. Bodmer's watercolors and Maximilian's written descriptions are considered the most complete and reliable eyewitness account of the Upper Midwest Indian cultures.

Learn more of the Journey from a reenactor at Fort Mandan. Lewis & Clark spent more days in North Dakota than any other place on their journey. This site offers a reconstruction of the 1804-1805 winter quarters built by the Corp of Discovery. Sacagawea, their interpreter and wife of French Canadian trapper and guide Toussaint Charbonneau, joined the expedition at this site. The fort was built of cottonwood lumber cut from the riverbanks. It was triangular in shape, with high walls on all sides and a gate facing the riverbank. The men started building the fort on November 2, 1804 and remained in the area until April 7, 1805. When the Corp passed back through the area in August 1806 on their return journey home, the fort had burnt to the ground; the reason is unknown.
 Lunch: Another tasty sack lunch awaits you this noon.

Expand your energy knowledge at Antelope Valley near Beulah, North Dakota. This area is part of a $4-billion energy complex that includes: The Freedom Mine, the nation's largest lignite coal mine; Antelope Valley Station, coal-based generating station; and The Great Plains Synfuels Plant, the nation's only commercial-size coal gasification plant.

From coal to electricity, Antelope Valley Station was designed as an environmentally sound, coal-based generating station. Production of electricity involves heating water to make steam. The steam spins a turbine connected to a generator, which produces electricity. This cycle is the same whether a plant gets heat from nuclear energy or burns gas, oil or coal. The largest piece of equipment at Antelope Valley is the boiler, measuring 277 feet tall. Each boiler consumes 350 tons of pulverized lignite per hour to produce superheated steam at 1,005 degrees Fahrenheit and 2,400 pounds per square inch. Steam is used to drive a multi-stage turbine connected to a generator. A major part of the Antelope Valley Station fuel supply is provided by the Great Plains Synfuels Plant in the form of lignite fine-particles of coal too small for use in the gasification process.
The water source for Antelope Valley and the Synfuels Plant is Lake Sakakawea, a large reservoir on the Missouri River. Water management is another aspect of environmental protection. Antelope Valley is a "zero-discharge" facility. Water is used efficiently, and none of it is returned to its source. The only way water leaves the plant site is by evaporation. Of the $1.9-billion construction cost, approximately $322 million more has been invested in environmental equipment and controls for protecting land, air and water. This is a lignite-based electric generating station with a capacity of 900,000 kilowatts.
 Afternoon: See for yourself the "gigantic" machinery used to extract coal at the Freedom Mine, a strip mining operation in Antelope Valley. The mine was named to highlight the important role it plays in helping secure America's freedom from dependence on foreign energy sources.

The coal seams ranging from 13 to 20-foot seams are located 50 to 150-feet below the surface. There are two walking draglines, each weighing 13 million pounds, that move 150 tons of earth per minute. The bucket itself could hold four 4-wheel drive Suburbans, 27,000 bushels of wheat or 1.5 million golf balls. Other equipment includes electric loading shovels, backhoes, 250-ton dump trucks, and track and rubber-tired dozers. Some of the trucks can haul enough coal in one load to fill three railroad cars.

The mine supplies approximately 5.2-million tons of lignite per year to Antelope Valley Station and The Synfuels Plant alone.

Rock picking, fertilizing and seeding occur immediately after the reclamation topography is approved with the use of global positioning technology. Lands are reclaimed to cropland and rangeland to be used by local farmers and ranchers. Other reclaimed lands, a 50-acre fishing lake for example, have been donated to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department as an addition to a 640-acre wildlife management area. Reclamation is at the same rate as mining, 700-1,000 acres per year.
North Dakota is one of only 15 states in the nation to meet all of the Environmental Protection Agency's stringent ambient air quality standards.

It is estimated that North Dakota has 25 billion tons of lignite reserves-enoughto last 800 years at today's rate of use.
 Afternoon: Learn about another major energy source for our country at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, North Dakota, the only commercial-scale coal gasification plant in the United States that manufactures natural gas as an investment to help assure America’s energy independence.

The $2.1-billion Synfuels Plant gasifies lignite coal to produce valuable gases and liquids. The average daily production is about 160 million cubic feet of natural gas, the majority of which is piped to Ventura and Harper, IA, for distribution in the eastern United States. The Synfuels Plant has invested approximately $130 million for environmental systems and facilities upgrades since 2007. One of these features is a unique flue gas desulfurization unit, or scrubber, that removes sulfur dioxide from the plant’s flue gases, the scrubber is unusual because it uses anhydrous ammonia as the scrubbing reagent, producing a valuable fertilizer instead of waste product.
Many co- products are also produced and marketed in the United States and worldwide. A portion of the gas produced is used to make co-products such as anhydrous ammonia and ammonium sulfate used as crop fertilizers; krypton-xenon used in specialty lighting, such as halogen headlights, lasers and projector bulbs; liquid nitrogen, used in food processing refrigeration and enhanced oil recovery; naphtha, gasoline enhancement product; crude cresylic acid, used for manufacturing numerous chemical products; and phenol, used for resins for plywood manufacturers and casting industry.
The plant daily consumes about 18,000 tons of lignite coal from the nearby Freedom Coal Mine.
 Dinner: Dinner tonight is on your own. Your director will point out and discuss dining options close to your hotel. Choices range from Red Lobster, sandwich shops, coffee and deli shop, supermarket with a deli department and a neat "50s style" restaurant. Evening: Free time to swim in the indoor pool, take a walk or just relax after a very busy day.
Accommodations: Comfort Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Tour North Dakota Capitol, visit North Dakota Historical Museum, travel the Enchanted Highway, and attend the Medora Musical.
(Thursday, July 17)

Note: Today's walking (again up to one to two miles) includes museums, Capitol, restaurants and picture stops. Level terrain but gravel base at picture stops on the Enchanted Highway. You will carry your own luggage to and from the coach.

 Breakfast: Deluxe continental breakfast served at hotel. Both hot and cold breakfast items on menu, fruit, pastries, meat and protein.
 Morning: Learn why the capitol is considered the Skyscraper of the Prairies from the capitol interpreter as they offer insight into the history, culture and political aspects of North Dakota.

The 19-story capitol was built in the early 1930s for just $2 million. It ranks as one of the nations’ most practical and economically built state capitols. This art-deco structure is enhanced by a unique blend of raw materials, including Indian limestone, Montana Yellowstone, Belgium marble, Tennessee marble, Honduras mahogany, East Indian rosewood, laurel wood, English brown oak and Burma teak.
The State Capitol grounds offer a photo opportunity at the statue of Sakakawea (local spelling) and her baby, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.

Visit the North Dakota Heritage Center Museum. The Corridor of Time gallery depicts life during the Late Cretaceous and Early Paleocene periods along with paleontological exhibits.
A First People's section describes and answers who were the first people here and how did they did arrive here. Featured objects from 10,000 B.C.E to the 18th century includes a reproduction of the oldest house ever excavated in North Dakota, 550-410 B.C.E.
Euro-Americans first came to the area in the 18th century, first to explore, to trade and later to settle, hence the Era of Change gallery.
The Settlement Era gallery explores the story of mostly immigrant farmers, 1861 to 1905, who developed the state's infrastructure and became the foundation of the state.
The Birds of North Dakota exhibit is a favorite for visitor's to view some of the 200 species that make North Dakota their home and some of the millions of migrating birds that stop on their journey along the central flyway of North America.
Other exhibits include: Native American History and Culture, North Dakota Military History, changing exhibits, Clovis Artifacts and Fairy Tale Pictures section.
 Lunch: Stop at a rest area along the interstate for a tasty sack lunch.
 Afternoon: Travel across the farmlands of the Dakota's. North Dakota ranks first in the nation for the production of hard spring and durum wheat. Other dry-land crops include sunflowers, canola, beans and flax.

North Dakota's "Enchanted Highway" is 32 miles of soaring, metal art sculpture that qualify as some of the largest in the world. They are as unusual as they are enjoyable, qualifying unequivocally as must-see Americana Road Art.
But the highway isn't just about the objects at all. It is also about a MAN, Gary Greff, and his singular vision to help revive this small community by getting travelers off the Interstate Highway and into small town, rural America.

The first project, "Geese in Flight" is in The Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Largest Metal Art Sculpture at 110-feet tall, 154-feet long and weighs 79 tons.
"Teddy Roosevelt Rides Again," 51-feet tall and built from used oil well pipe, is a tribute to President Roosevelt's part in North Dakota history.
"Pheasants in the Prairie," 70-feet long by 40-feet tall, took three years to complete using wire mesh originally used for screening gravel.
Other sculptures depicting the area's theme are "Deer Crossing," "The Tin Family," "Fisherman's Dream," and as a reminder of the hardships farmers have overcome in making their living off the land, a 60-foot long and 40-foot tall "Grasshopper Delight" metal creation made from old fuel and oil well tanks.

Gary and his work have been featured in all major newspapers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today; magazines (including the Smithsonian); and TV commercials.

Capture the spirit of the West with your overnight stay in Medora, the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt Badlands National Park.
 Dinner: Enjoy a buffet dinner at the Chuckwagon Cafe in Medora.
 Evening: Attend the Greatest Show in the West! The Medora Musical is recognized as one of the top ten Events in North America by the American Bus Association.
Enjoy family entertainment in the outdoor 2,852 seat Burning Hills Amphitheatre surrounded by the splendor of the North Dakota Badlands. This professionally produced, high energy, Western style musical is proudly dedicated to the legacy of America's 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, and the time he spent in the North Dakota.

The show pays tribute to American patriotism and the old-west way of life. Watch the breathtaking extravaganza of real horses, cowboys and an exciting array of song and dance routines performed by the Burning Hills Singers and accompanied by the on-stage band, the Coal Diggers.
The musical also features nationally known comedy and variety acts.
A wonderful way to end the day!

The town of Medora was founded in 1883 by a 24-year old French nobleman, the Marquis de Mores. He named the town for his bride, the former Medora van Hoffman, daughter of a wealthy New York City banker.
The valley of the Little Missouri had been the scene of varied activity long before the arrival of the Marquis. Native Americans had hunted in the area for many generations followed by white explorers and frontiersmen. General Sully fought "The Battle of the Badlands" close by and Lieutenant-Colonel George Custer passed through in 1876 on his fatal march west to the Little Bighorn.
A military camp, Badlands Cantonment, was established in 1879 to protect surveying and construction crews of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
The Marquis arrived with financial backing from his father-in-law, founded the town, build a meat packing plant, a hotel, stores and a large 26-room home (Chateau de Mores) overlooking the town. All of various enterprises ended in financial failure by 1886. They then returned to France and later the Marquis was killed in Africa in 1896 while on yet another adventure.
Accommodations: Badlands Motel/TRMF
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Theodore Roosevelt National Park Visitor's Center and TRs Cabin; Continue the Energy Trail: Oil; Geographic Center of the Nation Monument, and Devils Tower National Monument.
(Friday, July 18)

Note: The walking distance of today's activities (without Devils Tower's trail) totals up to one to two miles. Additional walking and an optional activity: Walk on a paved trail around the base of Devils Tower (1.3 miles). You will carry your own luggage in and out of the coach.

 Breakfast: A full breakfast buffet is served at the Chuckwagon Cafeteria located on the main street of Medora.

Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park Visitor's Center and TRs ranch cabin located in the badlands of North Dakota.
In 1884, after the death of his wife and mother, future 26th President Theodore Roosevelt went out to his ranch in the badlands to rebuild his life. The wild lands were a catharsis to him.
For about two years, he ranched in the area and noted his experiences in pieces published in eastern newspapers and magazines. Returning East and into politics Roosevelt would forever associate himself with the vanishing frontier and the life of the cowboy and rancher.

The Little Missouri Badlands were explored early in 1924 to determine possible park sites. But it wasn't until 1947 before this area became the Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park and finally a national park in 1978.

The Maltese Cross Ranch cabin was originally located south of Medora. At Roosevelt's request, a one and one-half story cabin complete with a shingle roof and cellar was built. Constructed of pine logs, the cabin was considered somewhat of a "mansion" in its day with wooden floors and three separate rooms (kitchen, living room and Roosevelt's bedroom). The steeply pitched roof, an oddity on the northern plains, created an upstairs sleeping loft for the ranch hands.
A prolific writer, Roosevelt spent many lamp-lit hours laboring at the desk in the living room recording his memoirs and reminiscences of badlands life.
The hutch in the living room doubled as a library and foldout writing table to indulge two of Roosevelt's prime passions, reading and writing.
 Morning: Continue on the Energy Trail as you travel through oil country. The discovery of the Bakken Oil Field has added another facet to the energy equation of our nation.

The Bakken Shale Formation occupies about 200,000 square miles of the subsurface of the Williston Basin, covering mainly parts of Montana, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan.
The formation is entirely in the subsurface and has no surface outcrop. Some higher estimates place the total reserves, recoverable and non-recoverable with today’s technology, at 18 to 24 billion barrels.
Current technology used to greatly enhance production includes horizontal/directional drilling, practice of drilling non- vertical wells, and fracking, artificially fracturing the rock to allow oil to seep to the oil well.
According to Bentek Energy’s analysis, reports indicate a 50 percent increase in production when this method was employed in a just small portion of the Bakken.
Fracking is also used to release natural gas and coal seam gas in other areas.
In the Bakken formation, production is rising so fast there is no space in pipelines to bring the oil to market. Instead, it is being transported to refineries by rail and truck.
Housing workers of the Bakken is a huge problem. Drilling companies have had to erect camps to house workers.
Unemployment in North Dakota is at the Nation’s lowest of 3.8 percent.
A typical North Dakota well produces for an average of 37 years and will produce 838,000 barrels of oil. The average cost of completing a well in North Dakota in 2010 was $6.1 million dollars.
 Lunch: Enjoy a sack lunch along the way back to South Dakota.
 Afternoon: Travel through Western North and South Dakota on the way to Devils Tower, WY.

In 1959, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey officially designated a point 20 miles north of Belle Fourche, South Dakota as the geographic center of the United States.
It is the center of the nation because the admission of Alaska and Hawaii to the United States moved the location of the official center of the nation.
Stop in the town of Belle Fourche to view this monument that is 21-foot in diameter and is made of etched-SD granite.

The National Park Information describes Devils Tower this way: “In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the first national monument under the new Antiquities Act.
About 60 million years ago molten magma was forced into sedimentary rocks above it and cooled underground. As it cooled, it contracted and fractured into columns.
An earlier flow formed Little Missouri Buttes. Over millions of years, erosion of the sedimentary rock exposed Devils Tower and accentuated Little Missouri Buttes.
The Tower rises 867 feet from the base and stands 1,267 feet above the river and 5,112 feet above sea level. The area of its tear-drop shaped top is 1.5 acres and the diameter of its base is 1,000 feet.”
You may remember Steven Spielberg’s 1977 science fiction movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and Devils Tower.
Enjoy the 1.3 mile Tower Walk on a paved path. The steepest part of the walk is in the first .5 miles of the trail. Once you have conquered that portion, it continues with flat and gentle up and down the rest of the way.
Look for various species of birds including blue-birds, chickadees, jays, woodpeckers, robins, meadowlarks, vultures, hawks, Bald Eagles and wild turkeys; little critters such as porcupines, chipmunks and rabbits; and white-tailed and mule deer.
 Dinner: A catered dinner will be served in the conference room at the hotel.
 Evening: Farewell "fun" night to follow dinner
Accommodations: Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8:
(Saturday, July 19)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast served at the hotel starting at 6:30 am
 Morning: Independent departures from hotel in Rapid City.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Bismarck, ND Bismarck, ND
Relax and swim in the hotel's indoor pool, visit the game room, check out the lounge and very small casino in the hotel or take a walk to Gateway Mall featuring local type shops and restaurants. Kmart is within walking distance but you must cross a busy highway. For additional information, visit
  Rapid City, South Dakota Rapid City SD
There is very limited free time in Rapid City during the program dates. After dinner, enjoy soaking in the hot tub or swim in the hotel's pool, visit with other participants in the meeting room, take a walk or just relax in your room and get organized for another exciting day. Contact South Dakota Traveling Studies with specific questions at 605-348-1996.

If you come early or stay later, Rapid City has numerous historic places to visit including Stave Kirk or Chapel in the Hills; The Journey Museum; Prairie Edge (an American Indian Store) which is just like a museum and the South Dakota School of Mines Geology Museum. Visit a local Black Hills Gold Jewelry manufacturing company. Take a stroll downtown and visit the Oldest Hotel in town, Alex Johnson Hotel, and marvel at the life size presidential statues on each of the downtown street corners.

There is a trolley system that provides transportation around the downtown area and to some of the major attractions. Check the website ( for stops, times and seasonal hours of operation. For additional information, visit
  Pierre, SD Pierre, SD
Tonight you can enjoy a leisurely walk along the Missouri River (within one-two blocks of hotel) and envision yourself as one of the Corp of Discovery walking in the same area. You can also ride Bicycle along the riverfront bike path, available for hotel guests. There is a Walgreens, US Post Office, Dakota Mart (grocery and sporting store) and downtown shops about a mile from your hotel. Relax in the indoor hotel swimming pool and hot tub or take advantage of the fitness equipment. Invite fellow participants to join you for a chat or card game in the hotel's lobby area. OR just go to bed early, get a restful night's sleep, and be ready for another exciting day on tomorrow's journey. RedRossa Italian Grille is next door to the hotel and offers room service if you wish to dine in your room tonight (dinner is on your own). Contact the front desk person for more information. For additional information, visit
  Medora, ND Medora, ND
Relax and play a game of mini golf, swim in the outdoor pool, spend time in the bookstore (1/2 block from the motel), wander through the little western shops, mail a postcard at the Post Office, eat an ice cream cone and visit the Harold Schafer Heritage Museum (free). Other attractions are the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum and Von Hoffman House (admission charge). All these places are within walking distance of the motel (whole town is only 12 blocks long). For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Six Wars At A Time

Author: Audrey and Howard Shaff

Description: The book depicts the life and times of Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941), the sculptor of Mount Rushmore. Painter, sculptor, political crusader, city planner, aviation enthusiast, critic and sportsman. Gutzon Borglum threw himself into life as it was lived in the halcyon days of the turn-of-the-century. His life was filled with romance, adventure, accomplishment and intrigue. It touched every president from Teddy Roosevelt to FDR, the artists, statesmen, politicians and celebrities of his time in a story that led to its inevitable conclusion at Mount Rushmore.

Hunting Trips of a Ranchman and The Wilderness Hunter

Author: Theodore Roosevelt

Description: "Roosevelt's sojourns in the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming had a powerful influence on his outlook and politics. Most of all, his time in the West brought him great joy. A joy that is apparent in every page of Hunting Trips of a Ranchman and The wilderness Hunter." --Stephen E. Ambrose

Written during his days as a ranchman in the Dakota Bad Lands, these two wilderness tales by Theodore Roosevelt endure today as part of the classic folklore of the West. The narratives provide vivid portraits of the land as well as the people and animals that inhabited it, ever underscoring the author's abiding concerns as a naturalist.

The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Author: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Bernard DeVoto (189701955)

Description: The one-volume edition of "The Lewis and Clark Journey" is outstanding in every way. Edited by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Bernard DeVoto the book gives the reader a fuller understanding of the Lewis and Clark expedition, 1804 to 1806, through the words of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark themselves. Follow the expedition from Saint Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back again which resulted in the initial exploration and mapping of the Great Plains and Pacific Northwest, the description and classification of over 100 never-before seen species of flora and fauna. In addition, the book dispels the myth of a northwest passage to the orient, and opens up the vast central and western regions of the continent to commerce with the United States.

Black Elk Speaks, The Premier Edition

Author: John G. Neihardt

Description: "Black Elk Speaks" is widely hailed as a religious classic, one of the best spiritual books of the modern era and the bestselling book of all time by an American Indian. This inspirational and unfailingly powerful story reveals the life and visions of the Lakota healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) and the tragic history of his Sioux people during the epic closing decades of the Old West. In 1930, the aging Black Elk met a kindred spirit, the famed poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt (1881-1973) on the Pine ridge reservation in south Dakota. The Lakota elder chose Neihardt to share his visions and life with the world. Neihardt understood and today Black Elk is known to all.

Lost Bird Of Wounded Knee

Author: Renee Sansom Flood

Description: In this significant work of history, Renee Flood movingly narrates the story of Lost Bird, who has become a symbol for thousands of children adopted away from their tribes and, indeed, for all people who have lost their heritage through social injustice, ignorance, and war. It tells the life story of an Indian baby girl found under her mother's frozen body after the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890) in what is now present day Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota.

Standing Witness: Devils Tower National Monument, A History

Author: Jeanne Rogers

Description: The book is a history based on superintendents’ notes, monument archives, historical publications, and personal interviews. From a humble beginning as an eroded igneous intrusion, to the prestigious status as America's first national monument (1906), to the monument centennial anniversary celebration, the Tower has beckoned and captivated visitors. Rising 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River, the 867- foot rock Tower is one of the most conspicuous physiographic features of the Black Hills. Devils Tower National Monument lies at the western edge of the Hills, in the central- west portion of Crook County, Wyoming. To many American Indian tribes the Tower is not scenic, 12 Standing witness but sacred. Almost everyone, of any nationality, who visits the Tower experiences some sense of "other-worldliness," of a connectedness beyond the physicality of the rock— a sense of wonder, to be sure, but deeper and broader. The Tower evokes an emotional response from visitors, whether or not they have come in search of such an encounter.

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