One of the most interesting and enticing destinations in the Midwest is definitely the majestic Mount Rushmore Memorial and the superb natural landscapes that surround it. Nevertheless, most travelers will only stop for a few hours admiring the incredible monument and go on without exploring the beautiful area. There are a lot of awesome natural wonders to discover close to Mount Rushmore and it is well worth spending a few days traveling around.
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Among the top destinations you should visit is the incredible Custer State Park, located south of Mount Rushmore and considered one of most impressive wild destinations in the US. If you love scenic grand vistas and breathtaking landscapes, not to mention the unbelievable wild bison grazing the fields. While hugely underrated and not known by many travelers, this park offers an unforgettable experience, with places like the imposing Black Elk Peak or the magical Sylvan Lake to name just two. There is also the option to drive through the Needles Highway, where you get to admire the stupendous rock formations rising in front of you. There are plenty of hiking trails taking you through the most fascinating highlights of Custer State Park and the best thing of all is that most of them are uncrowded.
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Another great outdoor adventure can be experienced by visiting the Wind Cave National Park, a few miles south of Custer Park. Known as one of the longest caves in the world, it may be the main attractions of the park, but there are other amazing things to uncover. There are several guided tours into the cave, taking you deep underground to admire the unique geological features formed through thousands of years. Above the ground, you can also explore the national park along a dense network of hiking trails, with a high probability to encounter wild bison, elk or prairie dogs. There is also the option to visit the park on horseback or by cycling and you can even camp in the area for the ultimate experience.
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To the northwest of the Mount Rushmore Memorial, you can find another wild destination in the Black Hills National Forest, filled with exciting natural wonders and stunning scenery. It is a veritable heaven for nature lovers and you can certainly find solitude in some remote areas. There are densely wooded mountains with unique features, raging mountain creeks, unbelievable canyons and caves, beautiful lakes and pastures. For a change of scenery, a few hours to the east of Mount Rushmore, you can find the Badlands National Park, with its mesmerizing natural rock formations that perfectly mix with the endless prairie that harbors a diversity of wildlife. With its otherworldly colors and shades that change with the light, with interesting fossils discovered in the area, with plenty of hiking opportunities to admire the scenery, the Badlands are definitely worth a day trip. These are the main natural destinations around the famous Mount Rushmore Monument, where you can enjoy the great outdoors of Midwest America in all its magnificence.