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South Dakota-History of the Old West
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South Dakota-History of the Old West


Who doesn’t just love a good story of pioneer grit and survival?! South Dakota is home to some of the most colorful history you’ll find in the American West. The Black Hills is home to a number of historical sites and filled with natural beauty. I have visited the area many times and enjoy hiking and biking around this western edge of the state. I’ve found the quiet forests to be one of my favorite places to camp and watch the wildlife.

If you like cycling tours and you’ve heard of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, dedicated to converting old rail grades into public use, then the Mickelson Trail should be on your ‘To Do’ list of bike tours. I haven’t actually ridden the entire length of it, but I did spend a few hours in the rain one afternoon going from Hill City to Rochford, a 20+ mile, scenic stretch that has 3 of the 4 total tunnels found along the trails entire length. Family and friends that have cycled the trail (109 miles end to end) have had nothing but good things to say about it. Other points of interest in the area that are considered must-dos is, of course, Mount Rushmore, the incomplete but slowly progressing Crazy Horse Memorial (Native American tribute), Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park and without fail, the historic and colorful town of Deadwood. South Dakota’s character is forever marked by the early exploration of Lewis and Clark, the wild years of Gold Rush in the 1870s, and the determination and spirit of the early homesteaders like the Engels family (Little House on the Prairie) who like thousands of others chose to settle and develop the land for the good of the country and the expansion of the western territories. South Dakota is as much at the heart of America as any other historical place known for that distinction. Don’t miss this gem of the West!

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One of the many tunnels on the Harney Peak, South Dakota’s highest point

Mickelson Trail

Your friendly travel expert,

Richard Tooke

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