South Dakota: More Than Just Mount Rushmore

When you think of South Dakota, an image of four giant presidential heads is probably what first comes to mind. If you are anything like me, you probably don’t expect much else out of a visit to South Dakota. Well, when you visit the northern state this year, you will have the opportunity to get a lot more out of your visit than you ever anticipated. South Dakota is the perfect vacation spot for any history buff, but the activities are enjoyable for anyone. With visits to the National Presidential Wax Museum and Big Thunder Gold Mine, your South Dakota vacation is bound to be one you will remember forever.

Get an in-depth and unique history lesson when you step foot into the National Presidential Wax Museum. Learn how democracy came to be in this great nation as you stroll along the life-size and life-like wax figurines. Some of the biggest names in United States history are stationed within this museum, which accurately represents historical settings. Former president John F. Kennedy and his son John Jr. come to life in one exhibit, while you can observe George W. Bush’s visit to “Ground Zero” after the 9/11 attacks in the next. Go back in time to when the founders signed the Declaration of Independence, and then see artifacts belonging to more recent presidents, including Bill Clinton’s red, white and blue saxophone. This museum presents a more entertaining way to learn about the history of the nation.

While even kids will love the realistic wax figures inside the museum, everyone can enjoy a game of Holy Terror Mini Golf as well. Located at the Wax Museum, Holy Terror is named after the last active gold mine in the city of Keystone, South Dakota. Test out your putt putt skills as you knock your golf ball around boulders, over hills, through the slew of the mine and across the bubbling stream. Getting a “hole in one” will be an exciting and entertaining challenge on this course, even for putt putt “pros.” Take a break after a visit through the museum and stop for a “Holy Terror” game of miniature golf before you hit the sights again.

If the idea of gold mining interested you on the golf course, try your hand at the excavation yourself. At Big Thunder Gold Mine, you will have the opportunity to pan for gold in a stream. First, take a tour of the area and learn how the miners struck gold in the glory days of the mine. Then, take the time to do it yourself. Big Thunder Gold Mine was built in 1895, and was running up until 1914. In 1913, its biggest load ever created the slope room. In more recent times, the mine has generated more interest as the possibility grows of another vein of ore. Experience the history for yourself – you may even find some gold of your own!

When you are visiting the area, some of the hotels you may want to look into include Best Western Four Presidents Lodge, which is within two miles of all the above-listed activities, or Best Western Golden Spike Inn & Suites, which offers incredible amenities during your stay and is still within a short distance of all the historical attractions.

A visit to South Dakota can’t be complete without a tour of Mount Rushmore, but it shouldn’t only be about the national landmark. South Dakota is rich with culture and history, and now you have the perfect opportunity to explore it all.

5 thoughts on “South Dakota: More Than Just Mount Rushmore

  1. I’ve always wanted to tour an actual gold mine, Big Thunder Gold Mine fits the bill! I can even excavate. Exciting.

  2. I would love to go see Mount Rushmore and excavate in a REAL gold mine. Thats awesome, I would like to also visit the National Presidential Wax Museum it sounds like fun.

  3. Wow that sounds really cool to visit, b/c I would love to see the reinactment on ground zero, than also panning for gold sounds AWESOME!

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