Badlands RV Freedom tour – Deadwood, South Dakota, days 17 – 19 of 40+

We left the boondocking camping area in the Badlands, on Friday, September 4 for Deadwood, SD. We squeezed into our tight campsite at Whistler Gulch Campground, which was a mining site, long ago. We were excited to explore the area and to be able to do laundry, clean the RV and take longer showers. This was our 9th campsite of 16 and our 19th day into the trip.

First stop in town was Saloon#10, which displays the chair that Wild Bill Hickok was believed to be shot in.  We were glad it was a Friday afternoon, so the holiday weekend crowds had not arrived, yet.  We had a beer at Saloon #10, and watched the reenactment of a shoot-out in the street, but did not return due to the crowds of unmasked people during the following days. It was a cool place and we hope to go back one day. We found a restaurant/bar across the street, where we could enjoy a beverage and views of town from a rooftop patio.

The second day we drove through Spearfish Canyon and did a couple of short hikes to see some waterfalls. We proceeded to Sturgis, which was hosting the annual Mustang Rally. It was nice to see an event, yet not the enormous crowds of the motorcycle rally. The demographic was mostly midwestern Mustang owners. It was a typical mellow, car-show group of people, very spread out through town. I will mention that we saw some Corvettes and Camaros in the area, also. It was 107 degrees in the shade.

We stopped at Walmart to buy a combination fan/heater to use the fan right away and the heater soon.

On our third day we spent some time at Mt. Moriah Cemetery. It was a nice, hilly morning walk through very old red pines. We saw Wild Bill Hickok’s and Calamity Jane’s grave sites, as well as other historical figures. It was educational and we had a great view of the town from there.  Later we drove back to Spearfish Canyon to enjoy happy hour at The Boar’s Nest Roadhouse. It was as if the “American Pickers” redecorated The Knuckle Saloon in Sturgis, and moved it to a beautiful Creekside location in the canyon. We enjoyed our last, hot (85 degrees), sunny afternoon there, knowing that in just over 24 hours it would be 30 degrees and snowing.

A note on traveling during the pandemic:  Previously on our trip, we felt the effect of the pandemic in Lacrosse, which normally would have been a busy, lively town, with filled restaurants and bars. Instead, extremely empty and quiet. In South Dakota we would learn that masks were not required and some businesses required employees and/or customers to wear them and others did not. In Deadwood, some tourists wore masks, but most employees and other people did not.   We read the stories about the outbreaks from the Sturgis bike rally. It appears that most cases were out-of-state people taking the virus home after the rally. The major outbreak area in South Dakota is on a college campus on the other side of the state. Regardless, we are being smart and careful, but not paranoid.

Campsite at Whistler Gulch Campground
Whistler Gulch Campground
Saloon #10 in Deadwood, SD
Deadwood, SD
Spearfish Canyon
Deadwood, SD
Mustang Rally in Sturgis, SD
The Knuckle Saloon in Sturgis, SD
One of many murals in Lead, SD
View of Deadwood from Mt. Moriah Cemetery
Boar’s Nest Roadhouse
Boar’s Nest Roadhouse