Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration. 4:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. 5:00 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. This is a Road Scholar family program. Parents (or Grandparents) are responsible for their children (grandchildren). If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Children are never to be left unsupervised. All talks and field trips will be led by local experts and expert Group Leaders. Unless otherwise specified, transportation will be provided via motorcoach requiring going up/down a few steps when getting on/off. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will 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 with salad, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea, or 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.
Activity note: Getting on/off horses; trail ride is about 1 hour; long pants and boots or tennis shoes required for horseback riding; riding helmets will be supplied. Driving approximately 110 miles; about 3 hours with frequent stops. Walking approx. 1/2 mile.
Breakfast: In one of the Lodge dining rooms, have a great breakfast and choose what you like from the buffet with rotating main dishes, hot and cold cereals, waffles with fruit topping, hard-boiled eggs, pastries, bagels, yogurt, fruit, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: We’ll kick off our Black Hills adventure with a field trip to Custer State Park led by our expert Group Leader. The park covers more than 71,000 acres full of mountains, plains, forests, and wildlife — one of the Top 10 places for wildlife in the world! — and was sacred to Native American people. Especially for kids: We'll stop first at the Visitor Center and explore interactive exhibits to learn about the Park's history, mysteries, landscapes, and wildlife. Next, we'll hop back on the motorcoach and ride along Wildlife Loop road to look for wild bison (buffalo), burros, prairie dogs, elk, white tail deer, and more. Especially for kids: At the end of the loop, we’ll put on cowboy hats and ride horses on a trail with experienced wranglers.
Lunch: At the popular restaurant in Custer State Park, we’ll have a plated lunch including iced tea and water; other beverages are available for purchase.
Afternoon: Mount Rushmore, with its majestic figures of four Presidents, is an American treasure. But there’s an even bigger monument being created less than 20 miles away. This monumental project uses the image of Crazy Horse — legendary Lakota warrior and leader — to symbolize the culture, traditions, and living heritage of North American Indians. Work started in 1948 and when it’s finished, the Crazy Horse Memorial will be the largest mountain carving in the world. We’ll ride to the Memorial to learn all about it and explore the Native American Educational & Cultural center there. We’ll have breathtaking views of the carving and surrounding landscape, see pictures of Native Americans from long ago, and an exhibit carved out of rock that tells the story of the bison (buffalo) and how important they were. Especially for kids: We’ll make leather pouches just like Native Americans had they might have used to carry flint for starting a fire. Crazy Horse staff will show us how it’s done and we’ll get to keep our pouches and take them home. We’ll then return to the Lodge.
Dinner: Lodge buffet.
Evening: Especially for kids: At the Lodge, we’ll have a fun, hands-on activity to set the stage for our Mount Rushmore field trip tomorrow. We’ll see how sculptor Gutzon Borglum made small scale models to plan how he would blast and carve huge images out of the mountain. We’ll learn how the work was done and draw a picture of Mount Rushmore.
Activity note: Walking about 1/2 mile throughout the day, indoors and out; groomed paths; standing up to 1 hour at a time in museums and outdoors; some stairs. Driving about 55 miles; approximately 1 hour each way.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet.
Morning: Mount Rushmore National Monument is much more than four gigantic faces carved out of stone. The sculptor who made it, Gutzon Borglum — a Danish-American — intended it to be not just a memorial to four of our greatest Presidents, but a “shrine of democracy.” Why these four? Washington led the army during the Revolutionary War with Great Britain and later became the first President of the United States. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and doubled the size of the country with Louisiana Purchase. Lincoln led the country through the Civil War and saved the Union. Roosevelt developed the “Square Deal” that promoted the conservation movement, controlled corporations, and protected consumers. Abroad, he made the Panama Canal happen and won the Nobel Peace Prize for settling a war between Russia and China. Especially for kids: We’ll see Mount Rushmore from a different angle on the top of a ridge about two miles away. We’ll ride up on chair lifts (like ski lifts) for amazing views. You will definitely want to take pics! Going back down, you can ride the chair lift again or, if you’re feeling adventurous, take the alpine slide. You control the speed of your individual sled as it glides 2,000 feet down the hill.
Lunch: Back at the lodge, we’ll have a buffet of soups or salads and sandwiches with coffee, tea water.
Afternoon: Next, we’ll ride to the Journey Museum and Learning Center in Rapid City. It is made up of four different museums that tell their own stories. We’ll explore the Pioneer Museum and see illuminated story walls that tell the story of the Black Hills from the first Europeans who came here up until today. Especially for kids: We’ll have a hands-on activity to understand what early settlers and pioneers went through in their struggle to live and travel here. We’ll then return to the Lodge for dinner.
Dinner: Lodge buffet.
Evening: We’ll get together around a campfire with our Group Leader to hear stories and legends. We’ll then ride over to Mount Rushmore for the Lighting Ceremony in the open, outdoor auditorium (weather and seasonal availability permitting). A park ranger will give a short talk and we’ll see a video called “Freedom: America’s Lasting Legacy.” Then, as lights come up on the giant statues of the Presidents, everyone will sing our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Activity note: Walking about 1/2 mile throughout the day; outdoors along board walks and groomed paths. Driving about 200 miles roundtrip, approximately 4 hours total with several stops.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet.
Morning: We’re off with our Group Leader for a field trip to Badlands National Park. It’s a crazy place! We’ll see beautiful and weird looking buttes, pinnacles, and spires, but 69 million years ago, everything was covered by an inland sea where dinosaurs roamed along the shore. Millions of years later, there were animals such as ancient camels, dogs, horses, rhinos, and saber-toothed cats. They’re long gone, but we’ll stop at different locations in the Park to explore and see what is there today. We’ll then ride on to the town of Wall. The main attraction is Wall Drug Store, known around the world as a highlight of roadside America. Starting in 1931, it became famous for giving away free ice water to thirsty travelers.
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: We’ll move on to the town of Keystone that began with the Gold Rush in the late 1800s when prospectors came to pan for loose gold in the sand and gravel of creeks. The town was named after the Keystone Mine, where miners dug for gold, and we’ll learn what was involved in mining. Especially for kids: We’ll try our hands at panning for gold to feel what it was like when prospectors came here hoping to get rich quick. Anything we find, we can keep!
Dinner: Lodge buffet.
Evening: At the hotel, tonight's expert instructor will captivate us with oral stories and traditional Native American dance.
Activity note: Remember to pack your swimming suit and towel for today's swimming activity. Standing and walking indoors up to 1 hour. Driving approximately 1 hour to Mammoth site.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet.
Morning: We'll ride out to the famous Mammoth Site just outside the city of Hot Springs. Mammoths are a hit in pop culture from movies like “Ice Age.” Real mammoths lived in the real Ice Age. This site is here today thanks to a trick of nature more than 26,000 years ago. An ancient sinkhole collapsed and spring water flowing up from the bottom made a watering hole. It attracted mammoths and other animals such as Ice Age camels, coyotes, giant short-faced bear, llamas, and wolves. Some of them fell in and died. The sinkhole later filled in, preserving the skeletons as fossils. The site was discovered in 1974 when a construction company was excavating for a housing project. They found the bones then turned the site over to scientists. It’s now a laboratory, research facility, and working museum with exhibits. Excavations and scientific investigations are continuing into the future. We’ll go behind the scenes with one of the collectors and curators to learn more about some of the discoveries and see some of the mammoth fossils. Especially for kids: We’ll get to become Junior Paleontologists as we help dig for signs of prehistoric life.
Lunch: At a popular restaurant next to the Mammoth Site, enjoy a sandwich with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Next, it’s Evans Plunge in Hot Springs where we’ll spend the afternoon enjoying the world’s largest indoor, naturally warm, rejuvenating, mineral water pool. It’s fed by an enormous thermal spring producing 5,000 gallons per minute! Native Lakota and Cheyenne people knew these waters and used them for centuries before settlers arrived. In 1890, a man named Fred Evans built the first structure over what became known as Evans Plunge. It was soon famous as people came here to swim and soak in the crystal clear waters that stay at a temperature of 87°F. There are water slides, rings, and life guards are on duty. See the Evans Plunge website for pool rules: http://www.evansplunge.com/rules/ Especially for kids: Swim and have fun!
Dinner: At the lodge, we’ll enjoy a casual final buffet dinner together. Share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.
Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet. This concludes our program. 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!