The great American road trip seems like a thing of the past, but it doesn’t have to be. The road trip is as much a part of America as baseball and apple pie. With gas dropping to its lowest price in years, isn’t it about time to pack the family in the car and head to the hills on The Great American Heritage Tour?
The summer of 2015 is the perfect time to unplug and explore the great outdoors. So what are you waiting for?
America has it all: “From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam,” But where to start? Here’s a hint, go to the land of the least inhabited, go to where there are the least distractions, and the least number of Wi-Fi connections and power outlets. Find the places that still represent Mayberry and remain blissfully innocent and un-molested by megamalls, skyscrapers, back-2-back traffic, and overcrowded everything. Take the American Heritage Tour. Show your family what life is like in a world where time is suspended and where everyday life exudes a simpler tone of existence.
The American Heritage Tour:
There is one road-trip so remote and obscure only the truly committed to getting lost have made the pilgrimage. Yellowstone National Park provides a detailed planner (details here) for a wholesome family road trip across the heart of America, beginning in the backyard of the Wild West. All you have to do is pack the car. Start off the trip in the stunning South Dakota Badlands and end six days later in the majestic Yellowstone National Park located on the rustic northern corner of Wyoming on the boarder of Montana. And we know what you’re thinking: where the hell is South Dakota? That is precisely the point. Try this on for size:
From rolling prairies and glittering lakes to granite peaks and towering pines, South Dakota’s landscape is as diverse as it is beautiful. The epic Black Hills & Badlands of South Dakota, offers majestic granite spires, and pine covered peaks. The Black Hills are full of scenery, adventure and rich history. With one of the largest concentrations of national parks, monuments and caves in the Midwest, you’re guaranteed to discover the family vacation destinations that captures the spirit of America.
There is absolutely nothing like the experience of driving across the Great Plains of South Dakota. The story of the Dakotas is rich with culture, tragedy, and above all a bold and relentless spirit of perseverance. South Dakota is the front porch to the Wild West. Traveling through South Dakota you can’t help but to be taken in by the history, the genuine people, and the eclectic and diverse locations that occupy the state. From the original Wall Drug Store (which is really a small western-themed town) in central South Dakota that hosts millions of tourists each year on their road west, through the desert Badlands so epic you have to see it with your own eyes. And then there’s Deadwood; with a past larger-than-life it is the only city in the United States where the entire town is a historical monument. Deadwood is a place where you can experience life as it was in a rougher, more colorful time with earlier residents like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok who lived life so bold you honestly wouldn’t believe us if we told you their stories.
From multi-day and multi-city itineraries, to scenic drives filled with history, folklore and abundant wildlife you can actually see from the car and not in a zoo, the American Heritage road trip is the route for you!
Need Directions? Look No Further:
Day 1: The Badlands
Take I-90 east 53 miles to Wall, South Dakota. Take SD 240 east through Badlands National Park. Start your adventure with a tour through Badlands National Park, one of the riches sources of dinosaur fossils in the world. Get out and walk around and see what you can find. In 2011 a 9-year-old girl found the remains of the best-preserved saber-tooth tiger skull in existence while on this same road trip with her family…true story
Day 1: Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial
Take SD 44 west through Rapid City, South Dakota. Head south on US 16 west through Keystone. Exit onto SD 16A east. Head west on SD 244 to the “Shrine of Democracy” Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Return to Keystone for shopping, food, and more fun.
Day 2: Deadwood, South Dakota
From Keystone, take US 16A east, then merge onto US 16 west. Go north on US 385 to Lead and Deadwood. Head into the famous Wild West gold-boom towns of Deadwood and Lead. You will definitely want to settle into in Deadwood for the night. Northbound 385 leads straight into the honky-tonk town of Deadwood, where Old Style Saloon #10 (657 Main St.; tel. 1 605 578 3346; www.saloon10.com) stages daily reenactments (during the summer) of Wild Bill Hickok’s infamous murder at the poker table. Visitors can play a hand at the gaming tables themselves.
Day 3: Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
From Lead, take US 85 south. Turn right on US 14 Scenic west to Spearfish Canyon. Cruise between 1,000-foot-high limestone canyon walls on a premier scenic byway through Spearfish Canyon. Be sure to stop by the Crow Peak Brewery for some local refreshments before you head out.
Day 3: Devils Tower, Wyoming
Take I-90 west to US 14 west. Turn right on WY 24 east, then left on WY 110 west to reach Devils Tower National Monument. Head west to cross into Wyoming, then visit the prominent Devils Tower. Learn the Native American legend that supposedly created this massive obelisk.
Day 3: Gillette, WY
Take US 24 west to US-14 west. Merge onto I-90 west and continue to Gillette. Finish the day with a trip through Keyhole State Park. Head on to Gillette and the Best Western Tower West Lodge. But be warned, you have officially entered Jackalope territory.
Day 4: Buffalo, WY
Take I-90 west to I-25 south to reach Buffalo. Stop in historic Buffalo for the Great Medicine Man Museum and Occidental Hotel. Hint: Don’t pet the buffalos.
Day 4: Sheridan, WY
Take I-25 north to I-90 west. Continue to Sheridan. See Western history and stay at the Landmark Historic Sheridan Inn.
Day 5: Cody, WY
Continue on I-90 west to US 14 west. Go 50 miles to Cody. Drive through Bighorn National Forest, and then stop in quaint Greybull. Continue to Cody and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
Day 6: Yellowstone National Park
Take US 14 west 100 miles to the famous Yellowstone National Park signed into commission by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872
The stretch of country between The Black Hills of South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park feature some of the most beautiful scenery in the US along with a wide array of exciting, family friendly destinations and attractions. From national monuments like Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument to the Black Hills National Forest and the Badlands National Park there’s something for everyone. State and National Parks along the way features some of the best camping in the country, along with world class fishing lakes, and beautiful scenic drives.
What are you waiting for? GET LOST!
Full Disclosure: This article was written by Tyler Hayzlett, Co-founder of SoDak Clothing, a South Dakota based company started with his childhood friend, which cares more about promoting South Dakota than they actually do about selling products. And for good reason