Pre-Trip Fun for Badlands and Black Hills, South Dakota
"Ice Age" -- This delightful romp is the perfect predecessor to viewing the Mammoth Site in South Dakota, host to a rich site of ice-age fossils. (Preschoolers and Up)
"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" -- Before they visit the Black Hills, kids will benefit from watching this visual history lesson and gaining an understanding of the importance of the land. (School Age and Up)
"Calamity Jane" -- Be sure to visit historic Deadwood where this musical -- featuring Doris Day as a gun-toting tomboy -- is set. (School Age and Up)
"Annie Get Your Gun" -- Catch this flick starring Ethel Merman before venturing into Buffalo Bill territory (a.k.a. Deadwood).
"North by Northwest" -- The finale is reason enough to see this film -- and it will pretty much guarantee your kids won't even ask if they can climb Mount Rushmore. (Pre-Teens and Up)
"Dances With Wolves" -- Watch this epic story of a soldier stationed in the Black Hills, then drive through the hills to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial, where your kids will witness history in the making. (Pre-Teens and Up)
"Hidalgo" -- Book a tour at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. Not only was part of the movie filmed here, but your kids will go wild for the mustangs they'll see running free. (Pre-Teens and Up)
Quick and Easy Tuna Casserole -- This so-called "hotdish" is a regular guest at potlucks. For real South Dakota flair, sprinkle potato chips on top before you bake it.
Zippy Barbecue Sauce -- Barbecue is big in the Badlands. Barbecuing buffalo burgers is even bigger.
"A Boy Called Slow: The True Story of Sitting Bull" by Joseph Bruchac -- The deep paintings will pull your child in, and the story of Sitting Bull will inspire; a perfect read before your visit to the Black Hills. (Ages 4 to 8)
"A Dinosaur Named Sue: The Find of the Century" by Fay Robinson, with the SUE Science Team of The Field Museum -- Introduce your child to Sue, one of the largest dinosaur fossils found to date, and the story of how she was discovered in the Badlands. Next stop: the Mammoth Site. (Ages 4 to 8)
"Hickok's Gold" by Joseph Kropp -- Like the boys in this book, who are also on vacation in the Black Hills, your kids will mingle fact with fiction to create their very own Wild West adventure. (Ages 9 to 12)
"By the Shores of Silver Lake" by Laura Ingalls Wilder -- Kids can get a sense of what life was like during the times of "Little House on the Prairie"; in fact, kids can visit De Smet, where the author lived and this installment of the series takes place. Costumed guides lead a tour of the tiny home, and there are hands-on pioneer activities. (Ages 9 to 12)
"Mammoths: Ice-Age Giants" by Larry D. Agenbroad and Lisa W. Nelson -- Your kids will dig (pun intended) the many color photos that accompany the book. They can also take a look for themselves at the Mammoth Site, where Agenbroad is the lead paleontologist. (Ages 9 to 14)
"The Curse of the Royal Ruby: A Rinnah Two Feathers Mystery" by Rodney Johnson -- After reading this fun mystery, your kids will be raring to get to Mount Rushmore and see if there's any sleuthing to do. (Ages 9 to 14)
"Grasshopper Summer" by Ann Turner -- This tale of a boy and his family moving to Dakota Territory in the late 1800s will prepare your kids to experience frontier life in De Smet. (Ages 10 to 14)
"Deadwood: The Golden Years" by Watson Parker -- Older teens will enjoy getting the scoop on one of the best-known towns that wasn't initially considered a town. (Ages 16 and Up)
"The Heartsong of Charging Elk: A Novel" by James Welch -- South Dakota is the perfect backdrop for this story, imagined from historical fact, of an Oglala Sioux who joins Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and travels from the Black Hills to the back streets of France. (Ages 16 and Up)
Corn Husk Dolls -- If a visit is planned to the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead, you're kids will get a kick out of creating dolls reminiscent of those Laura and Carrie might have made.
Backseat Travel Tray -- This will come in handy on the road in between attractions.