Northern Plains US Visits

Black Hills, South Dakota

Black Hills Mining Museum

P.O. Box 694

323 W. Main Street

Lead, South Dakota 57754



The museum includes memorabilia from the Black Hills mining boom as well as a tour of its re-created mine, showing equipment and techniques used over the generations for mining at the nearby Homestake mine.


July 2005

Adams Museum

54 Sherman Street
Deadwood, South Dakota 57732


July 2005

The museum includes memorabilia from the Black Hills mining boom, with particular attention to the Deadwood history, with attention to the early history of the town, including Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane, Deadwood’s famous ruffians.

Crazy Horse Memorial

Avenue of the Chiefs

Crazy Horse, SD 57730-9506



Construction has barely started on the ambitious mountain-sized sculpture, but the Indian Museum of North America complex continues to grow on the viewing site.


July 2005

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial

13000 Highway 24

Building 31, Suite 1

Keystone, SD 57751



Former Black Hills gold miners switched to sculpting stone to build this monument to the presidents that built the nation.  Don’t miss the Sculptor’s Studio where the rock carving techniques are shown.


July 2005

Reptile Gardens

P.O. Box 620

Rapid City, SD 57709



Reptile Gardens includes zoo-type displays of snakes, giant tortoises, lizards and birds; as well as shows and discussions about the different animals.  There are a few non-reptiles, including a prairie-dog town.  Less of a zoo, more of an amusement park (Sea World with alligators instead of dolphins).


July 2005

Black Hills Institute of Geological Research

217 Main St.  P.O. Box 643

Hill City, SD 57745


What a surprise.  In a tiny office in simply-named Hill City is the office and museum.  The museum includes a tightly-packed collection of dinosaur bones and reconstructed skeletons as well as rocks, minerals and other samples from the local region’s geology.  The Institute is working to bring up a more spacious museum nearby.  They’ve certainly got the exhibits to fill it.


July 2005

The Mammoth Site

  of Hot Springs, South Dakota

P.O. Box 692

Hot Springs, SD 57747-0692



This small site with numerous mammoth bones is an easy visit – the entire dig site is enclosed in an air-conditioned/heated building.  The site is being excavated by volunteers from Earthwatch, who pay a fee in addition to working two weeks.


3 Clocktower Place, Suite 100

P.O. Box 75

Maynard, MA 01754




July 2005

Jewel Cave National Monument

11149 Bldg B12
US Highway 16
Custer, SD 57730



Named for the crystal formations, Jewel Cave has turned out to be a very large cavern structure.  Exploration continues to this day.  Tours and exhibits give the public some idea of the processes that created it.


July 2005

Wind Cave National Park

RR1 Box 190

Hot Springs, SD 57747



July 2005

Named for the cave, the above-ground wildlife is nearly as attractive as the below-ground adventure.



Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

Institute of Range and the American Mustangs (IRAM)

PO Box 998

Hot Springs, SD 57747



Great place for horse lovers.  The horses aren’t particularly wild – they’re quite accustomed to people and busses.  Also, they seem to be breeding quite seriously, which is strange since the US BLM is trying to get rid of thousands of unwanted, truly wild horses.  And horses aren’t even indigenous to North America.


July 2005


Western Nebraska

Museum of the Fur Trade

6321 Hwy 20

Chadron, NB 69337



Fur traders were the first Europeans to penetrate the center of North America.  The fur trade was a highly-organized business.  In addition to indoor displays is a reconstructed fur trading post.  This is definitely an out-of-the-way museum, but with an impressive building plan.


July 2005


Alliance, NB


Part tribute, part parody, part science, part silliness.  This is a reproduction of the famous Neolithic British structure Stonehenge, built from junked automobiles.  The original featured alignments with the rising sun on the solstice.  The copy is not quite accurate.  There are a few additional sculptures using the junked-automobile medium that may be of interest to the art community.


July 2005



Devil’s Tower National Monument

P.O. Box 10

Devil’s Tower, WY 82714-0010




Devil’s Tower is a tower of volcanic magma, cooled and frozen into a pillar rising out of the plains.  It is a lure for climbers, though climbing is discouraged in June due to American Indian beliefs.  There is a delightful prairie dog town on the monument grounds on the way to the tower base.


July 2005


The Glenrock Paleontological Museum

506 West Birch Street

Glenrock, WY 82637



A great find in Wyoming!  This small museum boasts a terrific staff.  Young Scott is knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  Not only can you see the bones, but also the preparation.  They also have programs to help dig for a day or a week.  Hands-on science!


July 2005

Independence Rock State Historic Site
c/o Edness K. Wilkins SP
PO Box 1596
Evansville, WY 82636
(307) 577-5150 (Office)




July 2005

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center

110 Carter Ranch Road

Thermopolis, WY 82443



The Wyoming Dinosaur Muesum highlights locally-excavated skeletons, which volunteers can help excavate.  Not just a museum, the center is adjacent to the Thermopolis dig sites.  A day in the field is a great introduction to paleontology.  Don’t miss the preparation lab.  You may also get a presentation from the casting and mounting departments.  These are also important parts of paleontology.


The Big Horn Basin Foundation, dedicated to geologic and paleontologic research and education, provides tours of the museum and dig sites.


Big Horn Basin Foundation
P.O. Box 71
Thermopolis, WY 82443
fax - (307) 864-5762
phone - (307) 864-2259


July 2005

Hot Springs State Park

Thermopolis, WY


The town derived its name from the hot springs, which are accessible to all.  The part itself features a water play area as well as open plains that support a small bison herd.


July 2005

Buffalo Bill Historical Center

720 Sheridan Avenue

Cody, WY 82414



The Buffalo Bill Historical Center encompasses several museums: The Buffalo Bill Museum, the Museum of the Plains Indians, the Cody Firearms Museum, the Draper Museum of Natural History and a Western Art museum, with particular focus at this time Yellowstone.


July 2005

Yellowstone National Park


This large national park has several major attractions.  The most famous are the geothermal features: geysers, hot springs and mudpots.  The park also boasts herds of elk and buffalo, gorgeous waterfalls, Yellowstone lake for fishing and watersports, and the grand canyon of the Yellowstone river.  The geology of the canyon is somewhat slighted.   The park could certainly benefit from signs explaining the geology in the canyon area, especially near Tower Falls.  Also the visitor center near Fishing Bridge is showing its age.  The information on the wildlife and filling of lakes well-explained, but some wear is evident.  It could use a little cleanup.  The right people to work with are probably the Yellowstone Assocation (below).


July 2005



Yellowstone Association

PO Box 117
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190



The Yellowstone Association funds projects and operates bookstores inside the park to further their goals of education.  They have an office in the park, but you can’t visit them. 


Yellowstone Association Institute



Yellowstone Association Institute offers field courses that provide an inside look at Yellowstone National Park.


The Yellowstone Association Institute is a year-round educational field program offering a series of short courses in natural history, cultural history, and humanities topics where people learn about and experience the wild, natural wonders of Yellowstone.


July 2005



Southern Montana

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

P.O. Box 39

Crow Agency, MT 59022




July 2005

This is the site of “Custer’s Last Stand,” where the 7th Cavalry mis-judged the strength of the Sioux, attacked and were killed.  The site evolves with the political wind.  New additions include memorials to the fallen Indians.  The visitor center provides the Native American story.


USDA Forest Service Bighorn National Forest
2013 Eastside 2nd Street
Sheridan, WY 82801

The Bighorn River flows from the mountains, carving a beautiful canyon through layers of sedimentary rock.  Roadside signs indicate the rock layer changes as you drive through the park.  The forest has nothing to do with the Little Bighorn battlefield. 

July 2005

Pompey’s Pillar National Monument

26 miles East of Billings, MT, exit 23




Billings Field Office

5001 Southgate Drive

Billings, MT 59101



This is the rock where William Clark carved his initials July 25, 1806.  The famed initials are protected from the elements (and vandals) now, and the rock provides a spectacular view.


July 2005

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

SR 2 Between Butte and Bozeman, MT


Box 549

Three Forks, MT 59752



Though it is named for the famous explorers, the caverns were unknown to the Corps of Discovery.  Don’t expect any history here.  The caverns themselves are quite interesting and accessible.  The tour includes some wet areas and some narrow squeezes.  Great for kids (and adults, too).  The cavern is home to bats, which are rather reclusive.  Don’t expect to see them.


July 2005

Missouri Headwaters State Park

Near Three Forks, MT



Missouri Headwaters

1400 S. 19th St.

Bozeman, MT 59715




July 2005

This park resides at the start of the Missouri River.  It is prominent in the diary of Lewis and Clark on July 27 1805, since this is the region of Sacagawea’s original home.  The park has primarily historical interest, though it does include a geographical rarity – the confluence of three rivers, the three rivers that merge to form the Missouri.


Museum of the Yellowstone

124 Yellowstone Ave.

West Yellowstone, MT 59758

(406) 646-1100
(406) 646-7461 fax


West Yellowstone is trying to put together a museum complex just outside the park at the site of the old rail terminal.  The already have the Museum of the Yellowstone, which among other things, chronicles the history of the park, with special attention to the fires of 1978 and the evolution of tourism.  The technology changes from rail to auto have made a tremendous different in access. The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and the IMAX theater are within easy walking distance.


July 2005

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

201 S. Canyon
PO Box 996
Yellowstone, MT 59758




You probably won’t see bears and wolves in Yellowstone these days, but you’ll certainly can see them here.  The animals on display are unsuitable for the wild, but provide a riveting introduction to the need for these predators in the park and elsewhere.  The museum is relatively new and still building.


July 2005

Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University

600 W. Kagy Blvd.

Bozeman, MT 59717



The museum is know for its dinosaurs, but there is much more to recommend it.  Following to the right, the displays draw you through a nice progression through time to lead up to the famous fossils.  Of particular value is the way the museum addresses the classic unknowns, including dinosaur coloration, since color is not preserved in fossils.  Another thought-provoking display deals with the changing interpretation of fossils over the past 100-plus years, leading to very different-looking mounts. Another unique display includes triceratops skulls following development from baby to adult.  In addition to natural history, the museum includes a bicentennial Lewis and Clark display.  The technology of mapmaking was described in on movie.  Very nice.  The museum also includes an open, hands-on space and astronomy hall, including a connection to the Micro Observatory ( where you select a target for the telescope, and it Emails your picture back to you in a day or two.  In a strange twist, the museum prohibits photography, very strange for a facility dedicated to disseminating its information.


July 2005