Day Twenty-Seven: Drive to Hill City, South Dakota

Today Will and I slept in which was a nice treat. And by ‘slept in’ I mean we didn’t set an alarm; however our bodies still had us up before sunrise. Which was great for Will as he was able to take Pawley for a walk to watch the sunrise down by the river. We also let the kids sleep in as we had a smaller drive (only four hours). I was excited to be able to catch up on the blog since cell reception and WiFi has been either spotty or non-existent. As I type this, there is hardly any reception at the campsites themselves, but up the hill by the office it picks up. I don’t mind not having it and actually enjoy it! What I don’t like is getting behind on the blog. Oh well, it is what it is!


Our drive from Wyoming to South Dakota was a long flat drive. The views started picking up the closer we got to our final destination, Hill City. We picked Hill City because it is the name of our church! Hill City is right outside Custer.

Our drive

Before arriving at our RV Resort, we stopped four miles outside to see the Crazy Horse Memorial. Designed to be the world’s largest work of art, this tribute to the spirit of the North American Native people depicts Crazy Horse, the legendary Lakota leader who helped defeat General Custer at Little Bighorn. A work in progress, thus far the warrior’s head has been carved from the mountain and the colossal head of his horse is beginning to emerge.

The Sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, was a self taught and renowned Sculptor. Here is a brief write up about him in the pamphlet we received: He gained recognition at the 1939 World’s Fair which attracted the attention of Chief Henry Standing Bear who invited Korczak to the Black Hills to carve Crazy Horse. After much consideration, Korczak accepted. Ruth Ross followed Korczak, they married and had ten children who took part in the Dream of Crazy Horse as they were growing up. Korczak wrote, “Crazy Horse has never been known to have singed a treaty or touched the pen. Crazy Horse, as far as the scale model is concerned, is to be carved not so much as a lineal likeness, but more as a memorial to the spirit of Crazy Horse- to his people. With his left hand gesturing forward in response to the derisive question asked by a white man, ‘Where are your lands now?’ He replied, ‘My lands are where my dead lie buried.’” Dedicated management and staff, including some of Ziolkowski’s children and grandchildren, carry on the project today. The mission of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of all Native American Indians. The memorial continues to be sustained through admissions and donations. It is not a Federal or State funded project. I love this quote by Ziolkowski too, “Never forget your dreams”.

Ziolkowski’s original drawing of Crazy Horse
Here is the write up about the drawing
What all the dimensions will be
Eventually what it will look like
Words by K. Ziolkowski
View off in the distance. We did not go on the shuttle bus up to see closer.
Zoomed in

Our drive to our RV Resort, Rafter J Ranch was less than ten minutes. When we pulled in, I knew we were going to love it. Everything is so green and open. There are multiple sections throughout so every campsite has lots of space. The office and pool is centrally located and the showers and laundry room are really nice. As far as everything (setting, location, amenities) Rafter J is one of our favorite places yet! And everyone in South Dakota has been super friendly! At our last stop outside Casper, our next door neighbor was also coming here today for a family reunion with over 30 people. We thought for sure we would see them, but since the park truly is very spread out we have not!

Entrance to our RV Resort
Drive into our section (see us on the left)
The big green field we looked at on. You can see the another two sections across the way.

Here is a little background on our RV Resort that was written on our site map: In the late 1800’s, the Rafter J Bar Ranch was known as “12 Mile Station,” a stagecoach stop, on the way to Deadwood, SD from Cheyenne, Wyoming. The original Barn and Bunkhouse are still standing where the horses could be watered and rested. There was plenty of hospitality for the passengers riding the stagecoach too! We think the Ranch is still a pretty good watering hole for today’a traveler. In 2012 the Ranch was voted one of the top 100 campgrounds in the United States!

The old barn and bunkhouse

This was one of the first stops in a long time where we pulled in early (5:30 pm). It was so nice to not be rushed and to relax! While the burgers and hot dogs were cooking (with Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend and a fruit salad), Eli walked with me to throw in two loads of laundry. After dinner we walked back to put them in the dryer. I knew we were not going to make it to our next VRBO without doing a little load.

Cooking dinner and spending time outside
Sisters! One of my favorite pictures of them!

We went to bed slightly earlier as we have an excited day planned in the morning! I can’t wait!!!

2 thoughts on “Day Twenty-Seven: Drive to Hill City, South Dakota

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