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America's Majestic National Parks 2014

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Trip Extensions

Pre-trip: The Dakota Badlands

A treasure trove of fossil beds stretching back millions of years, the ever-changing landscape of Badlands National Park is one of nature’s most unusual vistas. With weather conditions constantly rearranging the topography, the badlands remain as mysterious as they are beautiful. Discover this fascinating region, while learning about the people who call the area home in visits to the famed Wall Drug and the wild west town of Deadwood.

It's Included:
Accommodations for 2 nights in Rapid City at the First-Class Holiday Inn Rushmore Plaza or similar
2 meals: 2 breakfasts
2 included tours: Badlands National Park, Deadwood
Exclusive services of a Grand Circle Program Director
  • Arrive today in Rapid City. Your Program Director can provide suggestions for dinner, which is on your own tonight.

  • After breakfast, depart for Badlands National Park for an included tour and picnic lunch. The hunting grounds of Native Americans from as long as 11,000 years ago, the 244,000-acre park has a history that stretches even further back, to an epoch at least 30 million years ago. Fossilized bones uncovered by later Lakota Indians suggested that these now dry lands had once been covered with a body of water, a fact later proved by the many geologists and fossil researchers who have studied the area.

    Beyond their canyon-like grandeur, what makes the badlands so unique is the combination of dry ground and loose rock linked by sediment. Both the earth and the rocks themselves are highly resistant to erosion, so that when the infrequent rains hit, the sediment becomes run-off and the rocks can be easily displaced. The scene you see in one visit might be dramatically rearranged by your next visit.

    After enjoying a picnic lunch here, we’ll visit a different slice of history: Wall Drug, which was founded in a poor town of 326 people during the Depression. Wall Drug made its name by offering free ice water to thirsty travelers and, as word spread, more came from even greater distances. 82 years later, travelers still come and find a vast array of shops and displays featuring regional curios, historic photos, toys and crafts from South Dakota, and items from Native American and cowboy culture.

    • Meals included:

    This morning, get a taste of the Wild West during a visit to the town of Deadwood. Located in the heart of the Black Hills, Deadwood was infamous in the 1800s for its outlaws and gamblers, and is now a national historic landmark. During time on your own here, you'll have an opportunity to visit the Adams Museum and Adams House, which chronicles the history of the Black Hills. Or, you may choose to explore the town itself, the whole of which has been carefully preserved.

    This afternoon, return to your hotel for dinner on your own, and to meet your fellow travelers joining the America's Majestic National Parks main trip.