13160
Mount Rushmore
The Best of Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills and Badlands
Discover South Dakota’s beautiful Black Hills and Badlands, where bison mosey through roadside meadows and hand-carved mountains tower over vast stretches of untouched wilderness.
Rating (4.93)
Program No. 13160RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,249
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7 days
6 nights
16 meals
6 B 4 L 6 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Keystone, SD
D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Lodge check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration 4:30. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and pick up your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that we will review during Orientation, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet at the front desk when you check in. Orientation 5:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. All lectures and field trips will be led by local experts; this includes our Group Leaders. Unless specified otherwise, transportation will be provided via motorcoach which will require going up/down a few steps when getting on/off. All evening programs and one morning program will take place in a meeting room at the Lodge. Periods in the schedule labeled “Free Time” and “At Leisure” offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available activities independently, making new friends among fellow Road Scholars, or simply relaxing. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the dining facility at the lodge, enjoy a buffet dinner with salad, vegetable, entrée, and dessert. Beverage choices include coffee, tea (iced or hot), water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
High Plains Heritage Center, Homestake Program, Presentation
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Walking about ½ mile indoors and out; groomed paths; standing up to ½ hour at a time in museums and historic buildings, some stairs. Driving approximately 120 miles; about 1 hour in both morning and afternoon.

Breakfast: In the lodge dining facility, enjoy a breakfast buffet with hot and cold cereals, waffles with fruit topping, hard-boiled eggs, rotating main dishes, pastries, bagels, yogurt, fruit, coffee, hot tea, milk, an assortment of juices and water.

Morning: We'll begin our week of discovery by transferring to The High Plains Western Heritage Center for an expert-led field trip. This center includes a Five-State Regional Museum founded to honor the old west pioneers of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming & Nebraska. Over 20,000 sq. ft. of quality exhibits feature Western art, Artifacts & Memorabilia including the original Spearfish to Deadwood Stagecoach, turn-of-the-century Kitchen, Saddle Shop & a Blacksmith Shop. Forestry, Mining, Ranching & Rodeo are also represented. Outdoor displays feature Longhorn Cattle, a furnished Log Cabin, rural Schoolhouse & antique Farm Equipment. After our exploration of the early western settlement in South Dakota we'll move to the theater for a historical representation program interpreting one of South Dakota's early pioneers.

Lunch: Lunch is included today.

Afternoon: Lead, the sister city to historic Deadwood, has played a pivotal role in the history of the Black Hills. Home to the Homestake Gold Mine, the streets of Lead tell a tale as rich as the gold mined from its hills. The Homestake Gold Mine was one of the early enterprises associated with the Gold Rush of 1876. The mining of gold from Homestake ceased several years ago due to low gold prices but has begun a new life serving as a laboratory 4,850 feet underground. The lab is working towards a revolution in physics by studying neutrinos. While here, we’ll enjoy a presentation from the Deputy Director for Education and Outreach for Sanford Underground Research Facility. We’ll then return to the lodge.

Dinner: Lodge buffet.

Evening: At the lodge with a local expert, we’ll learn more about the natural and human history of the Black Hills.

DAY
3
Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Presentation
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile indoors and out along groomed paths; standing up to 1 hour at a time in museums, some stairs. Driving approximately 100 miles total; about 4 hours aboard the motorcoach throughout the day.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We’ll transfer to traverse the Needles Highway in Custer State Park where slender granite formations called "Needles" dominate the skyline. Deemed impossible to construct by critics, the Needles Highway – a National Scenic Byway – was completed in 1922. The spectacular drive through forested mountains includes 14 miles of sharp turns, low tunnels, and impressive granite spires. One of the most impressive features, the Needle’s Eye, has been formed by countless years of rain, ice, and wind. We'll further our exploration of Custer State Park with interpretation delivered by our local expert Group Leader during a scenic drive around the Wildlife Loop Road. The park’s pine forests, grassy meadows and towers of granite offer spectacular views while also providing a remarkable, lush sanctuary for the park’s four-legged residents. Nearly 1,500 magnificent bison, along with fleet pronghorn, elusive elk, sure-footed mountain goats and a band of “begging burros“ – wild donkeys that have learned to seek food hand-outs from motorists – all freely roam the park’s sprawling 71,000 acres.

Lunch: At the historic State Game Lodge, we’ll enjoy an outdoor Western cookout. President Calvin Coolidge made this his “summer White House” in 1927.

Afternoon: In 1939, Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too." In response, and without federal funding, Ziolkowski set out to create a memorial to the history and heritage of Native Americans, personified by Chief Crazy Horse. He began carving the mountain in 1948 and worked on the project until his death in 1982. His family continues the dream as work progresses on the world's largest mountain sculpture that still uses no tax dollars and is funded privately through a non-profit organization. When completed, the Crazy Horse Memorial will be the largest outdoor sculpture in the world: 641 feet long and 563 feet high. Led by an expert, we’ll enjoy a visit around Crazy Horse's Museums while learning about its campus that serves as a repository for Native American artifacts, arts, and crafts and the Native American Educational & Cultural Center. We’ll then return to the lodge.

Dinner: Lodge buffet.

Evening: A local expert will captivate us with stories and historic accounts of the local culture, peoples, and traditions.

DAY
4
Mount Rushmore, Journey Museum, Patriotic Lighting Ceremony
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Walking about ½ mile indoors and out along groomed paths; standing up to 1 hour at a time in museums, some stairs. Driving about 70 miles throughout the day; about 2 hours total spent aboard the motorcoach.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: Under the guidance of our expert Group Leader, we’ll explore the United States’ Shrine of Democracy – Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Danish-American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, the creator of Mount Rushmore, wrote: “The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.” Borglum intended his monumental sculpture to be not only a memorial to four of our greatest Presidents, but a Shrine to Democracy. Why these four? Washington led the nascent United States to win independence from Great Britain. Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence. Roosevelt the “trust buster” ensured the rights of working people and was instrumental in building the Panama Canal. Lincoln led the country through the Civil War. Borglum began work in 1927 and continued until his death in 1941, when his son, Lincoln Borglum, took it on and ended work later that year. If you wish, feel free to expand your exploration of Mount Rushmore with an independent 1/2 mile walk on the Presidential Trail to Borglum’s studio. Interpretive signage along the way will illuminate more about the monument, its construction, and the artist whose vision produced one of America’s most iconic symbols.

Lunch: At the lodge, a build your own taco buffet with rice and beans and dessert. Beverage choices include coffee, tea (iced or hot), water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll venture into Rapid City to visit Journey Museum. Led by our local Group Leader expert and museum docents we'll learn about the Black Hills and surrounding area through the Journey's four major collections that provide a metaphorical journey into the past. The Journey brings into focus a cogent story of billions of years of eruption, exploration, evolution, conflict and change. A tectonic shift deep inside the earth 2.5 billion years ago violently thrust the land now known as the Black Hills into being. One of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, they have been worn down by the ravages of time from a height that was greater than the Matterhorn, thereby exposing the fine granite suitable now for mountain carving. Once on the edge of a great inland sea, this part of what is now the Great Plains was home to ancient dinosaurs. The Journey helps bring them back to relevance as we understand their time in this place. Prehistoric people came here when ice still held sway over most of North America and it would be another 10,000 years before the arrival of current Native Americans. The Journey helps us understand their life before the arrival of the white man. As we continue through The Journey, we’ll begin to comprehend their changing world with the arrival of gold seekers and settlers who were intent on building a future in Dakota Territory. Afterwards we'll head to down town Rapid City for some free independent exploration, Chosen as the “Most Patriotic City” by USA Today readers, where we’ll be greeted by the “City of Presidents” – a 20-square-block section of historic downtown with life-size bronze statues of all of the past presidents along streets and sidewalks. It was begun in 2000 to honor the legacy of the American presidency. The Group Leader will hand out an interpretive walking brochure of the statues. The Group Leader will also offer other suggestions of galleries and cultural shops to visit during your free time.

Dinner: Lodge buffet.

Evening: Weather and SEASONAL AVAILABILITY permitting, we will attend the Lighting Ceremony at Mount Rushmore – a patriotic program presented in the open, outdoor auditorium.

DAY
5
Presentation, Mammoth Site, Free Time, Presentation
Keystone, SD
B,L,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Walking about ½ mile indoors and outdoors along boardwalks and sidewalks; standing up to 1 hour at a time in museums, some stairs. Driving approx. 110 miles round trip; about 2 hours of total travel time.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: At the lodge, a local expert will captivate us with unique and fascinating stories directly related to South Dakota and the Black Hills. Afterwards, we'll travel to Hot Springs South Dakota where we'll enjoy an expert-led visit to an active paleontological dig site, which boasts the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world! We'll travel back in time when Ice Age mammoths, camels, and giant short-faced bears roamed the Great Plains of North America. More than 26,000 years ago a sinkhole suddenly collapsed and the warm spring percolating from the bottom filled it in to create an ideal watering hole for animals to quench their thirst. Unfortunately the sinkhole proved to be too slippery and steep for the animals to retreat, thus creating a death trap for large Columbian and Woolly Mammoths. We’ll investigate this historic event by visiting the world's largest Columbian Mammoth exhibit and research center for Pleistocene studies. By going behind the scenes of the Mammoth Site Laboratory with the museum's collector and curator, we’ll learn more about specific bones, fossils and stories behind the Mammoths’ demise.

Lunch: At a popular restaurant next to the Mammoth Site enjoy a sandwich bar with water, tea and coffee included.

Afternoon: Next, we'll stop in Hill City on the way back to the hotel where you can choose how to spend your free time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. Hill City also hosts a number of art galleries belonging to local artists and artisans. You may wish to visit the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, the leader in paleontological excavations and preparation since 1974. The Institute helps supply museums and collectors the finest in professionally prepared fossils and cast replicas. They have been involved with the excavation of eight Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons since 1990, including SUE, STAN, BUCKY, DUFFY, and WYREX. Interestingly, these 5 are among the top 10 most complete T-rex skeletons yet discovered. If your interest lies in trains, the South Dakota State Railroad Museum, Ltd. is a not-for-profit organization that preserves and interprets railroad equipment, memorabilia, and the ever-changing historical material specific to South Dakota and related American railroads.

Dinner: Lodge buffet.

Evening: Through a lecture at the lodge, we’ll enjoy a unique look into the colorful past of those who blazed the trail expanding the western frontier.

DAY
6
Badlands National Park
Keystone, SD
B,D
K Bar S Lodge

Activity note: Walking about ½ mile outdoors along board walks and groomed paths. Driving approx. 230 miles total; about 4.5 hours total: 2 hours to the Badlands, 1 hour in the Badlands, 1.5 hours return.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: The settlers and gold seekers of early days often struggled daily just to satisfy their basic needs for food and shelter on the rugged moon-like landscape that is now known as Badlands National Park. After transferring to the edge of the Badlands, we'll visit an original sod house on the prairie still owned by the descendants of hardy explorers. The Prairie Homestead Historic Site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and gives us a true sense of the rough life of settlers of this by-gone era. Our Group Leaders will provide the history and descriptions of the Badlands. Later, we’ll carry on to Badlands National Park where we will explore the place the Lakota named “mako sica,” meaning “land bad.” Via coach, we will travel through and stop at interpretive sites within the Park to go on some short walks. An inland sea covered this area 68-77 million years ago. Erosion of the Badlands over the last 75 million years reveals sedimentary layers of vivid colors resulting from different minerals and elements left from volcanic ash carried here by the wind from other parts of the world. Today, the 244,000 acres of mystical moon-like topography of spires and pinnacles surrounded by a sea of grass are inhabited by buffalo, deer, antelope, prairie dogs, and much more. We’ll then continue to Wall, South Dakota.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in Wall. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: The Wall Drug Store got its start during the Depression years by offering free ice water to thirsty travelers. Wall Drug features the largest privately owned western and illustration art collection in the country and you will be free to visit the gallery independently after lunch. We’ll then return to the lodge.

Dinner: At the lodge, we’ll enjoy a casual evening of wine and hors d' oeuvres before our final dinner together.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Keystone, SD
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!