I lived in the Black Hills until my sophomore year of high school when my parents relocated us to North Dakota. After a several years away, I returned permanently to Rapid City at the age of…well let’s just say “older”. Having moved back after college, I was reminded of all that had changed in the area in my absence, and all the things I missed while I was gone. Many things I missed were big things, such as the buffalo in Custer State Park, and evenings spent hiking through the Black Hills.
Buffalo at Custer State Park
I remember feeding lettuce to the tortoises at Reptile Gardens while I was in diapers. Playing on the dinosaurs in Dinosaur Park when I was still too small to climb onto the Triceratops by myself. Paddle Boating on Canyon Lake and feeding stale bread to the geese, back when it was still allowed. And of course family reunions at Storybook Island, where the kids got to run rampant among fairytale creatures while the parents caught up with the family gossip.
Many of the attractions that I grew up with are still around today. A testament to the dedication of the people in charge who still see the value they bring to Rapid City.
As adults, we can sometimes forget how magical a place like Bear Country USA can be to a child. Such a simple thing to drive through an environment where bears, wolves and deer are right outside your own car can make a memory that a child will carry forever. I know, because I still do.
Fox at Bear Country USA
My goal this year, and I recommend it to be yours too, is to revisit the places that were such an important part of our childhood and see if we can recapture some of the magic, or share it with someone else. Luckily I’m tall enough now to get on my own dinosaur!