Category Archives: News Articles

Sightseeing in the Black Hills

There is a lot to see in the highest mountains east of the Rockies

The Black Hills is a mountain range that rises out of the Great Plains and is separate from the Rocky Mountains farther west. Located in western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming, the Black Hills climb in elevation to over 7,000 feet, which is taller than any mountain in the entire eastern United States. The Black Hills are absolutely beautiful and contain animals such as mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and pronghorn. A variety of roads crisscross the Black Hills, containing towns, natural attractions and man-made attractions.

There’s no question that the number one attraction in the Black Hills of South Dakota is Mount Rushmore. Averaging over 2,000,000 visitors the last several years (, Mount Rushmore has paid tribute to great U.S. presidents since 1941.

But, it would be a shame to visit Mount Rushmore and miss so many other natural and manmade things to see in the Black Hills. From the sixth-largest known cave system in the world, to spectacular wildlife, unique towns, and another grand sculpture, you could spend an entire vacation exploring the Black Hills. This doesn’t even count Badlands National Park, which is just about an hour east of the Black Hills.

Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park sits in the southeast corner of the Black Hills (about one hour south of Rapid City). The cave system is the sixth-longest known cave system in the world and is known for its boxwork, a unique cave wall feature. Wind Cave is named for the winds found at its entrance and it also contains the largest natural prairie grassland above it.
Wind Cave National Park is served by a year-round visitor center and is a national park that doesn’t charge an admission fee. However, you do have to pay a fee to tour the cave. If you visit, please note that the visitor center is located on Highway 385 – some GPS units incorrectly place the visitor center on Highway 87.

With the exception of a campground, there are no services in the park (including restaurants). Aside from visiting the cave, you can hike the park’s trails, camp in the backcountry (in a designated area only), and view wildlife, including bison, elk, pronghorn, and prairie dogs. It is worth noting that the Wind Cave bison herd (250-400 animals) is one of only a small number of known free-roaming, genetically pure bison herds in the United States.

Custer State Park

Custer State Park is a South Dakota state park located directly north of Wind Cave National Park and south of Mount Rushmore. Custer State Park is a large, preserved area of the Black Hills. Famous for its wildlife viewing, Wildlife Loop Rd. is a popular drive through the park.
While in the park, you can camp, hike, bike, swim, cross-country ski, fish, canoe, kayak, paddleboard, and more. The park is famous for its yearly buffalo roundup, where the park’s over 1,000 buffalo are rounded up and then a portion of them sold through auction to keep the park’s population at a manageable level. Also unique is the park’s “begging burros,” a population of donkeys that roam the park and beg visitors for free food!

Custer State Park is home to a variety of lodges, campsites, and restaurants. There is an admission fee to the park.

Crazy Horse Memorial

Located about 25 minutes west of Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial is another mountain sculpture and honors Crazy Horse, a leader of the Oglala Lakota tribe in the 1800s. Crazy Horse earned fame by leading Native Americans against Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Crazy Horse Memorial is a work in progress. It is not operated by the U.S. government, but rather by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. As such, it has an admission fee (with options per person or per carload), and admission is not covered by any U.S. National Parks passes.

In addition to viewing the memorial, there is a visitor center that tells the story of Crazy Horse and contains Native American art and artifacts. The visitor center has a restaurant, conference facilities, and gift shop.

Jewel Cave National Monument

Located about 45 minutes west of Mt. Rushmore, Jewel Cave National Monument is the third-longest mapped cave system in the world (Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave is first). Open year-round, visitors can take one of three tours in the cave, as well as hike on trails above ground.

Jewel Cave National Monument is served by a visitor center with restrooms but does not contain a restaurant. Two of the three cave tours originate from the visitor center area, while the third tour originates about a mile west (where there is a parking lot and restrooms).

Tours require a paid ticket. You can reserve tickets in advance or purchase them day-of. As of this book’s publishing, only one of the tours is free through various national parks and monuments passes.

Another notable feature of Jewel Cave National Monument is that almost 90% of its trees burned in a fire in 2000. What remains is the regrowth of the forest, a neat study in how a forest recovers from a fire.


Host of a wildly popular (and just plain wild) annual motorcycle rally, Sturgis is a small town on the edge of the Black Hills. People are drawn to various bars and restaurants, as well as the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.


A successful (and commercial) preservation of a classic western gold rush town, Deadwood, South Dakota is the site of the death of Wild Bill Hickok. Today Deadwood hosts a variety of restaurants, casinos, shops, and hotels on its classic Main St. Deadwood is also the setting for the former HBO series of the same name.

More than just gambling and eating, Deadwood has become a resort destination with nice amenities. Deadwood hosts concerts and festivals throughout the year, gun fight reenactments along Main St., as well as tours of the town and surrounding areas.
While it is in the Black Hills, Deadwood is over an hour’s drive north of most of the parks and monuments. Regardless, many people make Deadwood their vacation hub because of the restaurants and entertainment, while making day trips out of Deadwood for the other Black Hills attractions.

Deadwood, SD

Other Black Hills Attractions

While the Black Hills offers a wide variety of parks and monuments, there are also a variety of manmade attractions. You can ride a steam train, navigate a ropes course, ride a mountain rollercoaster, tour a mystery house, ride a zipline, visit animal exhibits, tour gold mines, and more. Furthermore, there are various hotels, lodges, cabins, ranches, and resorts throughout the Black Hills.

This information is provided by Short and Sweet Introductions.  Visit for more information like this and to learn about more vacation destinations in the American west.

Which City Has the Second Most Number of War Memorials Behind Washington DC?…


Known as an easily walkable city with a compact, easy-to-navigate city center, Indianapolis contains the second most number of war memorials in the United States behind Washington DC. Indianapolis’s war memorials observe the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  In addition, Indianapolis memorializes all U.S. Medal of Honor recipients, 9/11, and the USS Indianapolis (sunk in World War II).

In one day, visitors can easily walk from memorial to memorial, with most in a seven-block line extending north through downtown and a handful of others located along Indianapolis’s scenic Canal Walk.

the base of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Monument Circle

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Built in 1902 to memorialize Indiana’s Civil War veterans, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument stands 284 feet tall in the center of Indianapolis – right in the middle of Monument Circle.  Television sports broadcasts almost always include a picture of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.  Recently the TV show “American Ninja Warrior” constructed its first-ever curved obstacle course around the monument.

The monument has a small gift shop inside as well as an elevator and stairway that lets you go to the top.  Providing the best public view of Indianapolis, the observation deck is 275 feet off the ground and offers views each direction out of the top of the monument.

The monument is generally open Wednesday through Sunday during warmer months and only Friday through Sunday during colder months.  It is free to walk up the stairs but costs a small fee to use the elevator.  Please note that even if you pay to use the elevator, you will have to climb a small number of steps at the top.  Also note that the monument gets tighter as you go up and might not be ideal for people who don’t like small spaces.

the view out of the top of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum

This museum is located in the bottom level of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.  Its entrance is on the west side (while the monument’s observation entrance is on the south side).  The Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum hosts 9000 square feet of artifacts from the Civil War.  Admission to the museum is free and usually has the same hours as the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

Indiana War Memorial

Built to honor Indiana veterans of World War I, the Indiana War Memorial honors Hoosiers who have served in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions. Inside the memorial is the Indiana War Museum which has thousands of historic and modern military artifacts, a unique battle flag collection of over 400 flags, and the Shrine Room which is full of objects commemorating World War I.  Museum admission is free and is open Wednesday through Sunday during the day.

the Shrine Room at the Indiana War Memorial

Veteran’s Memorial Plaza

Veteran’s Memorial Plaza is anchored by an obelisk and part of a large green space that is used for festivals and special events.  The obelisk is similar to the Washington Monument in Washington DC (though much smaller and without the ability to go inside of it).  Veteran’s Memorial Plaza honors all fifty states with their flags.

a look at the Veteran’s Memorial Plaza and American Legion Mall

American Legion Mall

This green space is so named because the American Legion’s national headquarters sits on one side while the American Legion’s Indiana headquarters sits on the other side.  Within the green space are small memorials for World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, as well as Cenotaph Square (which memorializes the first U.S. life lost in World War I).  Each memorial lists the names of Hoosiers who died in those wars.

Medal of Honor Memorial

Sitting right beside the canal (near the Indiana State Museum), the Medal of Honor Memorial is the only memorial in the United States that lists and honors all recipients of the U.S. Medal of Honor.  The glass memorial is lit at night and has a motion-activated recording that plays, telling the stories of some of the recipients.

9/11 Memorial

Containing two steel beams from the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial remembers the attack on 9/11.  In addition to the beams are two black granite walls that observe the attack. The 9/11 Memorial is located along the canal a block east of the Medal of Honor Memorial.

USS Indianapolis CA35 Memorial

Sunk by a Japanese submarine in 1945 and recently memorialized in a movie starring Nicolas Cage, the USS Indianapolis delivered critical atomic bomb parts in World War II shortly before it sank. Most of the men aboard the ship died and this memorial (located at the north end of the canal) honors their loss.

This information is provided by Short and Sweet Introductions.  Visit for more information like this and to learn about more vacation destinations in the American west.

Eight Good Things to Know About Yellowstone Before You Go this Summer

tips for Yellowstone National Park

Each year millions of visitors cram into Yellowstone National Park to see its amazing beauty. Over 3,000 square miles in size, there are countless geothermal features, waterfalls, scenic views, and wildlife to take in on your trip.

If you plan to go to Yellowstone National Park, here are eight things that you should know before you go. Continue reading Eight Good Things to Know About Yellowstone Before You Go this Summer

Epcot Tips – Spring 2019

Tips for Epcot When You Visit During the International Flower & Garden Festival

Walt Disney World Resort celebrates spring in style with this year’s 25th International Flower & Garden Festival.  From March 6 – June 9, your trip to Epcot will be extra special with uniquely-created topiaries, live music, special landscaping, special food, and more.

So, if you’re going to visit Epcot, here are a few Epcot tips that could save you time and headaches. Continue reading Epcot Tips – Spring 2019

Buy These Five Items BEFORE You Go to Disney World this Sprin

Save time, money, and headaches by being prepared and avoiding theme park prices

It stinks to go on vacation and either A) pay three times more for something than you would at home, or B) not be able to find what you need at your resort or destination.

It’s no secret that Disney World costs a lot of money.  Just because the tickets cover your admission to the parks, don’t think that Disney doesn’t find more ways to get your money after you’re there.  Here are some top items you can buy before you leave that will save you both time and money! Continue reading Buy These Five Items BEFORE You Go to Disney World this Sprin