The area around Rushmore is charming in that “this has been a destination for decades” kind of way. I get into old school entertainment – old mining towns that keep up the character, mystical fun houses that have been demonstrating the goofy side of physics for generations, mechanical horses for kids to ride outside of restaurants. We spent a few days exploring after we did the main attraction while we were waiting for the work on the Chief to finish up (more on that later).
If there’s anything like Bear Country USA, I haven’t been to it. This was a first for me. It’s a radical kind of zoo – a place that lawyers haven’t been successful at shutting down (yet) even though there’s an element of personal responsibility involved. We drove through the habitats of bears, buffalos, elk and so much more. The wolves and mountain lines were entirely inside cages (good to know… I’m no longer as concerned about bear and substantially more concerned about mountain lion – apparently they’re the crafty carnivores in this part of the world). I still don’t know how much I believe all the “beware of bison – they’re mean” hype but I also don’t see why anyone would want to get close enough to confirm or deny the allegation. They’re kind of slobbery looking. We *mostly* kept our windows up.
The kids LOVED it. By far, this was one of the best activities of the trip. It was part animal sighting, part “no seat belts required WHILE the car was in motion” (settle down Mom – we were on a one way track doing less than 5 MPH with frequent stops). After the driving we got to get out of the car and visit the small animals and babies in a separate area. Evie particularly enjoyed being 6 inches from a porcupine (“I LOVE his hair cut!!”) and Jack liked the part when he got to pick up deer antlers (the kid loves anything sharp).
This guy licked our hood.
Animal pelts and bones.
I also took the little people to the (free) dinosaur park one morning when Scott needed some work time.
True story – Evie was delighted someone drew a pink heart on this one. She asked me to take a picture. Ok.