Travel Stories

A travel blog for a long-term expat, backpacker, traveler, ESL teacher, and photographer. 

Rapid City, South Dakota


Rapid City, South Dakota. It is a place I did not know existed until my sister moved there. In fact, I didn't even know where South Dakota was on a map until she moved there. Although, as it seems, people from South Dakota can't label the East Coast states either so it is a mutual thing (I asked someone, lol). I remember when my plane was landing, I looked out the plane and saw black and nothing. I thought to myself, "fuck, this is middle of nowhere, not Virginia."

In a city of 70,000, Rapid City is the second largest city in South Dakota and about 20 miles from Mount Rushmore. The city takes pride in its proximity to Mount Rushmore and to show it, it has a statue of every president of the USA on its downtown street corners. (minus Obama). It has bars, restaurants, bookshops, and basically everything you need in walking distance. There is one alley that is full of graffiti/art. It is really a sight to see. The entire street, from trash cans to doors to roofs are lit up by every color imaginable. Various types of art exist. Take a look below to see the beauty of it.It also is very close to a Native American reservation - something I've never experienced before and it was very interesting for me to see the Native shops and people around town as I'm not used to it. I wish I had had more time to visit a reservation and actually meet somebody of Native American descent. Next trip!

During my weekend in Rapid City, my sister, her boyfriend, and I took a trip to Mount Rushmore. There were flags of the 50 states in a straight line leading up to the presidential mountain. I found Mount Rushmore to be much smaller than expected - probably from films like National Treasure 2 that set you up for disappointment since it is filmed right next to it. Like close enough to pick George's nose close. Rushmore is quite a distance from the viewing point - which cost 10 dollars! Thieves!

Near Mount Rushmore is an abandoned western, ghost town called Rockerville. Apparently it had one working restaurant that burned down last month due to ghosts - or so they say. :P It was a town formed by the gold rush in the 1800s. There were two sides to it, probably the more original side and one makeshift replication of it. The photo on the right is a photo of the real ruins.

After, we went up into the Black Hills National Forest. Many trees were grounded by previous forest fires. There were a few tunnels going through rocky roads that you had to honk your horn in order to go through to make sure there wasn't another car at the other side. There were viewing points of Mount Rushmore and the tallest mountain peak East of the Alps. We saw a big buck and were supposed to see buffalo but we had to pay 15$ to go see the damn things. How we solved this you may wonder? We went back to Rapid City and ordered 15$ of buffalo ribs for dinner. >) TAKE THAT! We also didn't see goats so I put a goat stuffed animal on a rock to give it a better atmosphere. It was beautiful though.

We ate at two restaurants - Blind Lion and Murphy's Pub. Yum on both parts! The Blind Lion is a speakeasy that you can only go to if you know the password/key code to the door. It has a limited menu but we decided to order all of the meals and share. I had Greek meatballs - so freaking nom. Also, this place carried mulled wine and Castille Kriek! Yum! They tell you not to take photos hence my limited amount but they do dress up in flapper costumes and have live music! They said the only place to take photos was in a bathtub across the room and you had to wear boas and dress up. They also banned cell phones and made you go into an old fashioned telephone booth if you needed to take a call.


At Murphy's we had fried pickles as an app and I had mac and cheese for dinner. All nom. Nom is a word that describes delicious food that can't be described without losing its delicious value.

Now, if you want to leave Rapid City, you basically have 5 hours of prairie in multiple directions until the next city. So if you live there, you don't leave often.