I owe South Dakota a huge apology. Â When the kitchen partner and I planned our vacation, our stop in South Dakota was a sidebar/afterthought to the scenery and adventures in Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Â Just a stop for the night, catch the monument in the morning and be on our way back to Minnesota. Â Little did I know, our stop at Mount Rushmore was my favorite, our trip underground at Jewel Cave was the kitchen partner’s favorite, and we found more local products here than anywhere else! Â Sorry, South Dakota. Â You were way more fantastic than I gave you credit for.
Here’s 3 things I didn’t know about South Dakota:
1. The evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore is absolutely stunning. Still gives me goosebumps to write about it more than a week later. Â If you ever feel less-than-faithful in our democratic system, or need a reminder about how influential four individuals–with strong vision and determination–can be, pack up your stuff and drive to Keystone, SD and see this. Â 8 P.M. every night, May to October.
2. Â Just outside Custer, SD is Jewel Cave National Monument, a geological research site protected by the National Park Service. Â The kitchen partner and I went spelunkingÂ on a guided tour and were totally blown away. Â Get this: Â Right now, the cave is 155 miles long (2nd longest in the world). Â That’s only the distance they have currently mapped, however geologists estimate it could be up to 5,000 miles long. Â Each year they are able to map about 4-5 more miles of the cave; it takes cavers about 17 hours to reach the point they are currently mapping. Â Woah South Dakota. Â Who knew you had an undiscovered frontier?
3. Â You can now buy South Dakota wine and local buffalo burgers, sausages, and chili at the Mount Rushmore dining facility, Carvers’ Cafe. Â The kitchen partner and I were visiting early in the day so we didn’t stop for a tasting, but it’s nice to see that there’s South Dakota Locavores too! Â The Rushmore Red is bottled by Valiant Vineyards Winery in Vermillion, SD. Way to go, South Dakota!