I was originally going to group Day 9, 10 & 11 together, but we did so much during these 3 days that it was impossible to put it into one post. The next 3 days were my absolute favorite of the trip. There is so much to do in South Dakota besides the Ingall’s Homestead and Badlands NP that it will make your head spin! (Who knew??)
We left Wall after breakfast and drove straight to the South Dakota Air & Space Museum. The nice folks at the Minuteman Missile site had told us about this place when we couldn’t get a tour due to all of them being booked the day we were there. The museum is located on an Air Force base and there are military planes and all sorts of equipment parked out front. The kids (especially my son) loved climbing up on these to get a closer look.
The museum is free to enter and has all sorts of cockpits, pilot suites and simulators to look at and learn from. My son was tickled to tour around this place for about an hour and learn all he could about flying airplanes.
The next stop was Wind Cave National Park where we got our first look at a bison herd. Amazing! Thrilling! All the feels!
We booked our tour of the cave and started the paperwork for the Junior Ranger badges.
The paperwork can be difficult and take time to complete. Make sure that is one of the first things you do if you only plan to spend a few hours at the park.
Our cave tour time came up, so we entered the cave through the airlock and proceeded down the stairs. The airlock allows the cave to continue to blow or suck air (Wind Cave) based on the atmospheric pressure outside.
Wind Cave has the largest section of box work that has been found in the world.
The tour was interesting and chilly! Make sure to bring a jacket. We loved exploring the cave and found the Visitor’s Center museum to be fascinating. The kids had a great time underground as well as all the cool things to see above ground.
Our next stop of the day was the Mammoth Dig site. Wow this place is spectacular!! Do not miss this place! The Mammoth Dig Site is an active paleontological site. During the time of the mammoths a cave collapsed and filled with water. The Mammoths would drink from the pool, fall in and then get stuck and die. This site is the highest concentration of Mammoths found in the world and they are still finding more.
I had signed my children up for the Junior Paleontologist program prior to our arrival, but there seemed to be several spots left, so you may not have to book in advance. The children are brought to a separate area where there are large spaces filled with sand. The paleontologist tells the children about Mammoths, their bones and how real paleontologists dig for bones at the site. The kids are then given a chance to try their hand at digging up Mammoth bone casts. It is amazing!
After the children dug for bones, we had an official tour of the dig site.
Wow! What a place. The Mammoth Site is really cool and educational for everyone.
We were not done with the day yet. We can sleep when we’re dead! 😂
We still needed to check into our cabin at Custer State Park. We made our way to Custer, paid our weekly admission fee of $20 and headed to our cabin. We happened to use the Wild Life Loop to get to our cabin and happened upon the burros. They were sweet and my children love animals, so it was a really great ending to a really great day.
LHRT – Day 9
Accommodations – Custer State Park Cabin
Driving Time – 2 1/2 hours
Cost – $50.00
Do-over wish list – What a wonderful day!