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Day three in Rapid City, South Dakota was so full of memory-making moments for our family and I am so excited to share all about it in this sponsored post.
By day three we felt like we really had a good handle of the layout of the area and we were determined to pack as much into the day as possible. Looking back at the pictures, I am a bit surprised just how much we really did do. Rapid City is a popular road trip destination, but since I've started sharing everything that is family-friendly in the area, I've had more and more people tell me they are planning to fly in to save time on the drive and have more time to really enjoy the area. I think either way you can't go wrong, but making sure you have as much time as possible here is a good idea, no matter how you get here!
We started the day with coffee- a lot of coffee! I kept telling myself how great of an idea that was. The caffeine rush was totally used when we got to Rushmore Tramway Adventures right after breakfast!
Located right down the hill from Mount Rushmore, this is a great place to stretch your legs and have some active fun together as a family. As you can tell, the girls weren't excited at all! Ha!
We started with a ride up to the top of the hill, (which by the way has a cafe and a view of Mount Rushmore) and rode the alpine slide down!
Then it was off to the adventure course!
There is also a very long zip line that is a must-do for the thrill-seekers in your life!
After that, it was lunchtime. We ate in Keystone, which is a big tourist area at the base of Mount Rushmore. There are really cute shops and restaurants. Buffets and pizza seem to be a big thing here so take a little walk down the main street and check out all the choices before deciding on one!
After lunch, it was time to check something off our family travel wishlist, seeing Mount Rushmore in person!
This was such a powerful moment for us all.
Even Emmy was in awe. It is one thing to see this in a school textbook, but to walk up the stairs from the parking structure and see the flags lining the walkway, and then see the carvings in the mountain…it really does take your breath away!
There are bleachers right at the base of the mountain where you can take pictures and just sit and really take it all in, which we totally did. After that, we went down to the lower level and watched a documentary on how Mount Rushmore was built. We all took away a lot more knowledge and understanding of just how big of a task it was to create and I would recommend everyone watch it. Right next to the theater is the gift shop… another recommended stop.
If you are hungry for a full meal, or just a snack, the restaurant at Mount Rushmore is a surprisingly great option. The restaurant has daily homemade options featuring good ole comfort food. We had already had lunch, but I took a look at the options and I couldn't believe the great food they were serving. But our favorite part was the ice cream shop! They serve huge sundaes, but the real show stopper was the vanilla ice cream! It is made using Thomas Jefferson's actual recipe!
Before we left, we took in a couple more moments of this view. Emmy was near tears telling us all how she “waited her whole life for this moment”. Granted she is only seven, but there were so many other people talking about how powerful it was to see this in person. Pete helped take pictures for some other visitors (having huge cameras around your neck, this becomes a common thing for us), but it is also a great ice breaker to meet and talk to new people. Multiple people told us they had traveled thousands of miles to see Mount Rushmore and it was even better than they could have imagined!
We could have stopped our day right here and still been thrilled, but I'm so glad we kept on exploring because we visited another really cool place, the Rush Mountain Adventure Park!
This adventure park has a zip line, hillside coaster and a HUGE cave to tour!
Here is more about Rushmore Cave:
This fun and educational underground guided cave tour reveals the beautiful and amazing carvings formed by nature. Explore subterranean passageways that lead to spectacular stalactite rooms and discover other natural limestone cave formations. An expert guide will lead you on a one-hour journey through local history, cave geology and the many untold stories that reveal the hidden world that lies beneath us. It’s a total must-do attraction for anyone visiting the Black Hills.
The scenic walking tour is great for the whole family. The tour is approximately 1 hour in length. Some stooping in places for low ceiling & ability to climb stairs necessary. Come at your convenience, no reservations required. The last cave tour leaves one hour before closing.
This was our first cave adventure for our family and we are still talking about it. There were so many educational and conservation lessons taught during this tour, but it felt 100% fun. I love when we are all able to learn new things on our adventures and this was a great experience for us! Just a little planning tip:
Just a little planning tip: The cave is large and extensive. You go in one end and out the other and the tour takes about an hour to complete. It is also cool inside the cave so a perfect mid-afternoon activity for when it gets hot outside!
We have all seen the reproduction of the insides of caves at amusement parks, but seeing the real deal in person is pretty amazing!
Inside the cave are crawlspace passageways to other “rooms” that are only accessible via their adventure tours. There is no way I would be able to talk myself into that kind of tour, but plenty of people do! To see if you can fit through the entrances they have this bench with cutouts. Both girls were the right size and totally would have done the tours!
Maybe next time on that one girls! We ended up going on the coaster at the end of our time here and everyone loved it, especially the view from above looking over the Black Hills!
I loved the position of their zip line too! We were also able to see a group of deer passing through at the same time. It seems like everyone was loving the sunset!
We had hoped to go back to for the Evening Lighting Ceremony at Mount Rushmore, but due to a midday rainstorm, our schedule was flip-flopped around a bit, but a passenger on our flight home did go see it one day and showed me pictures. I was blown away by how beautiful it was. If you can go, you really should. We are not going to miss it on our next visit! Speaking of that wonderful lady on our plane ride home (hi if you are reading this), she was sharing her itinerary for her visit and there were only a few overlapping things that we both did… and her vacation was also jam-packed. It really showed that there are so many great activities in the area. She even extended her stay to do more!