by Katlyn Richter on August 19, 2015 · 2 comments

Across South Dakota schools are beginning to go back into session, summer nights are winding down, and fall is calling – especially this week with the drastic change in temperature.

Something else is happening here. Sunflowers are blooming! It seems to be nature’s way of telling us that it’s okay to start school and welcome fall. It’s the subtle beauty across the state that delights us in a time of change.

I’ll let the photos do the talking.
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Crow Peak

by Katlyn Richter on July 13, 2015 · 0 comments

Who would have thought that billions of years ago, the Crow Peak Summit in the Black Hills of South Dakota was covered by an ocean? Today, it is home to a stellar hike and the namesake for a local brewery (Crow Peak Brewery) that makes some mighty tasty beer. You could say that the area – and its legacy, has been in the making for billions of years. IMG_7481

This summit is located in the northern Black Hills just outside of Spearfish. The “Black Hills” comes from the Lakota words “Paha Sapa,” meaning “hills that are black.” From afar, as you travel toward the Black Hills, you will see that the pine-covered hills appear black.

It was a lovely morning, crisp and cool for the time of year even though the sun was shining. It was a perfect day for a new adventure. It can often be quite cool and breezy in the Black Hills National Forest, especially when you are summiting to 5,600 feet.

All in all, the climb is about 3.5 miles up, and of course, another 3.5 miles back down. The base of the trail is at 4,200 feet and summit is at 5,600 feet. Initially, we climb fairly steadily in one direction. I can see our path in the distance ahead of me. Quickly, the forest in my path draws near and I begin to notice the trail weaving back and forth. Before I know it, I find myself looking up instead of ahead to see where the trail is taking me.
The trail is rated at “difficult.” Soon, I understand why. It is a strenuous hike that takes the wind from me as I climb. My breathing becomes deeper and I can feel the elevation’s effect, making this girl from the Great Plains struggle a bit as we make our ascent. I have climbed Harney Peak before and, in relation the designation of that trail being “moderate,” I can feel the difference here.

Yes, the hike is literally breathtaking. But the views? Spectacular. Along the way are panoramas of the western Black Hills and views into Wyoming and Montana. Views of Terry Peak and Bear Butte (both in South Dakota) are stunning from here and it’s amazing that they seem so close, yet so far. The trail brings me across the remains of the fire that came through the area in 2012 and there is certainly some wildlife, like deer and turkeys, to be spotted along the way. There are several rock slides to be aware of. In these spots, taking special caution and treading slowly and with precision is essential.



To me, and much to the agreement of many hikers I’ve heard from, Crow Peak is one of the best hikes in the Black Hills. The beauty of the hike is that it’s a footpath only for hikers, horseback riders, and off-road cyclists. There are no ATVs allowed on the trail. I met dogs, runners, bikers, and hikers – all of whom seemed to be some of the friendliest strangers I’ve come across.

If you want to take the hike, here’s what you have to know:
To access the trailhead, depart out of Spearfish on Forest Service Road 214 and drive approximately 7 miles. Now, this can be confusing, but basically just take Hillsview Road from Spearfish and turn onto Higgins Gulch Road. There is a fairly large parking lot on the right side. Get yourself prepped there. The trailhead isn’t immediately visible from the parking lot, but you’ll find it – there is a gate leading the way.


The trail is popular enough that it’s easily identified – there shouldn’t be much question about where you’re going once you arrive. However, it probably won’t be overflowing with people. You’ll likely only see a few other hikers in the summer months. Half into the hike, there is a sign for Beaver Ridge – if you want to only go to Crow Peak, steer clear of this path. However, the ridge will provide another cool perspective if you decide to take it and will only add about a mile (round trip) to your hike.


Don’t forget to cap your experience off with a taste of Crow Peak beer at the end of the hike. You earned it.





Baby Animals

by Katlyn Richter on May 19, 2015 · 0 comments

Well, spring sure has sprung in South Dakota. The weather has certainly been back and forth early this year deciding between spring and summer. We think that the tolerable weather is around to stay finally.

Spring has everyone excited to see the new additions to the wildlife crowd. Make sure you get out there and see these critters before they are all grown up! Who is your favorite?

Wildlife and outdoor adventures abound in South Dakota. There is no shortage of places to view animals in easily accessible locations like Custer State Park, Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and others across the state! Stop by and say hello to South Dakota’s newest critter faces this spring!




by Katlyn Richter on March 6, 2015 · 0 comments

I grew up an hour from Brookings and had many cousins attend South Dakota State University, so Brookings is familiar to me. I’ve enjoyed the downtown shops, university festivities, sporting events, local businesses, and other unique things to do. Though I’ve always thought positively of Brookings, it wasn’t until later in life that I began to sincerely appreciate all that it has to offer.

A few weeks ago, I was able to spend the day in Brookings. There was something wonderful about being in the community for the day without having to rush around. And what I found there was something very special. There is much to see and do in this well taken care of city. Here’s what I discovered:



The Children’s Museum of South Dakota – I have been here several times with my children, and they hands down LOVE this place. And me? It makes me feel young again. It also makes me wish I were four-years-old again. It’s a beautiful place to play. I haven’t been to a children’s museum like it before. From the grocery store to auto body shop to seeing “Mama” the T.rex outside and the fishing pond, there is no shortage of things to do. You could spend all day here with your little ones. To me, this is a top-notch attraction not only in South Dakota, but in all of the Midwest. Kids of all ages will find something to enjoy here, really!

South Dakota Art Museum – This is a gem of an art museum in South Dakota. Rotating galleries feature Native American art, Harvey Dunn, and many scheduled exhibits feature regional and national artists. When we were there around Valentine’s Day, there was a unique exhibit called “Heart to Heart” that featured artist couples with ties to South Dakota. Each person in the couple were each asked to submit a work of their own practice. Each couple was also tasked with creating a piece they collaborated on together for the show. Seeing the individual pieces beside the blending of each couples piece made for an interesting experience for the visitor.  No matter what time of year you visit, you’re sure to see some great Harvey Dunn and Oscar Howe pieces, along with the largest collection of Maraghab Linens. Psstt – there is also a great gift store inside with beautiful treasures!


Dakota Nature Park – This was a new one for me, and wow, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised! Just on the outskirts of Brookings, you can find this beautifully-preserved area with many recreation opportunities. It’s open year-round, so you’re able to snowshoe, cross-country ski, canoe, kayak, hike, bike, bird watch, or set up a picnic. The on-site facility, which is open to the public, is very beautiful as well. This multi-purpose park is one that you shouldn’t overlook on a visit to Brookings.

Swiftel Center – Wow, what a great event center! Situated perfectly off the interstate but still close to town, the Swiftel Center blew me away with the great concerts, regional, and local events that they seem to be continuously hosting. In the last few months alone, they’ve hosted Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, wrestling tournaments, conventions, and rodeos. I went to Martina McBride and the place was booming with energy and excitement! Check out their events calendar for a listing of upcoming shows, concerts, and entertainment.

Nick’s Hamburgers – Come on. A trip to Brookings without a stop at the World Famous Nick’s Hamburgers? I think not. You’ll walk into a quaint diner with folks ready to fix you up a burger, or two…or three. I chose to have mine with dill pickle chips and a chocolate malt. Perfection. If you haven’t been, you must try these burgers! The kids will love stepping into this nostalgic diner, and your tummies will be happy too!

McCrory Gardens – This garden is a focal point of not only South Dakota State University, but also the community of Brookings. The 25-acre floral garden and 45-acre arboretum is open for the public to enjoy. Especially gorgeous from May-October, you’ll find flowering and green plants, trees, and features like a cottage and waterfall. Children delight in this beautiful park filled with butterflies, birds, dragonflies and flowers. I feel like I’m in a magical world! It’s both peaceful and energizing.

This is just a high level overview of all there is to see and do in Brookings. To explore more, see what is all available, visit their website.



Dinosaur 13

by Katlyn Richter on October 7, 2014 · 0 comments

In May, I attended the Black Hills Film Festival. I’ve been to each festival since it began 5 years ago, and every year something special touches me. Every year I go home talking about something – some movie, an interesting topic, and of course, the many great people I meet – but, this year, the highlight of the festival was the showing of Dinosaur 13.
 Dinosaur 13 is the story of the custody battle for Sue, the largest, most complete T. Rex ever found. It premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was purchased for theatrical distribution by Lionsgate. It sold for one million dollars, an unusually high amount for a documentary. The Black Hills Film Festival in Hill City was one of few select festivals that was able to screen the documentary prior to its theatrical release.

As I mentioned, the Black Hills Film Festival takes place in Hill City. I was able to watch this documentary in the very town where the drama took place. I sat surrounded by not only community members, but members of the Black Hills Institute of Geology involved in the battle over Sue. In fact, I sat directly behind one of the geologists who was featured frequently in the film. It was his first time watching the documentary. Sitting next to his wife. the couple winced during every grueling part of the story. The emotions they experienced during the showing was raw and powerful, which added power to my own viewing experience.

I won’t give away too much of the story here on this blog, but I do encourage readers to check out The website lists several places where you are able to purchase the documentary on demand to watch in your home. The film has been screened at dozens of festivals in locations like Wales, England, Norway, Scotland, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Australia, and dozens of others. It was an absolute treat to watch it at the Black Hills Film Festival in the exact city where Sue was dearly loved by these scientists.

Next time you come to South Dakota, be sure to stop at the Museum at the Black Hills Institute, which is where Sue was brought after being discovered. After watching Dinosaur 13, I don’t think that I’ll look at fossils the same. It was amazing how much love goes into these discoveries. I certainly will no longer be able to walk into this museum without being overwhelmed with emotion. The museum describes itself as “a modest but incredible natural history museum. Natural history enthusiasts can rest assured; you will find something unique in this treasure trove of amazing dinosaurs, fossils, minerals and collectibles from all over the world.” After watching Dinosaur 13, I am sure that they are right.



Posted in History


by Katlyn Richter on July 31, 2014 · 1 comment

We have been seeing lots of great photos shared with us by visitors in South Dakota with our #HiFromSD social media campaign.

If your vacation plans include South Dakota over the coming months, be sure to share your photos and videos with us and they will collect on our landing page If you’re looking for inspiration for your next trip, it’s a great place to start!

Here’s some fun shots we wanted to share with you:

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July means one thing in De Smet, SD: It’s Pageant Month! No, not beauty pageants. No, not “Toddlers and Tiaras.” In De Smet, “pageant” means hundreds of volunteers combining their talents to produce a family-friendly play based on the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the area’s most famous resident.

The theme for the 2014 Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in De Smet is “These Happy Golden Years.” Based on Wilder’s eighth book, the production will take place over the course of three weekends in July. The play is entertaining and educational for all ages and a great opportunity to watch an outdoor performance.

2014 Dates:

–          July 11-13

–          July 18-20

–          July 25-27

The gates open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. Before the show, attendees can shop for souvenirs at the Whatnot Shop and treats at the Prairie Popper. There will also be free wagon rides around the property and live music to enjoy.

Wooden bench seating will be available in the amphitheater. However, people are welcome to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. To make the most of the evening, attendees are encouraged to bring bug repellant and additional layers for the cool evening weather.

Advance tickets are not necessary. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children. Children under the age of five are admitted free of charge. We hope you’re able to make it to one of the shows this year and enjoy part of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s amazing story!

For more details, click here.


Written by former soap opera star Richard Cerasani, “Love Letters from Mount Rushmore: The Story of a Marriage, a Monument, and a Moment in History” is the newest book available from the South Dakota State Historical Society.


Starting with the discovery of an old trunk, Cerasani recounts a previously untold story of love and opportunity set during the carving of Mount Rushmore.


The story centers on Cerasani’s father, Arthur Cerasani, who worked on Mount Rushmore from March to September of 1940. A sculptor and artist from Rochester, N.Y., Arthur lived in the Black Hills, while his family remained over 1,500 miles away in Avon, N.Y. Over this vast distance, he and his wife Mary stayed connected through daily letters. Their correspondence, presented here with never-before-seen photographs, brings to light the everyday trials of working on the Mount Rushmore Memorial and the strength of the human spirit.


Despite isolation, spring blizzards, summer heat, and the unpredictable moods and fortunes of master sculptor Gutzon Borglum, Arthur Cerasani manages to grow as an artist and connect with Luigi Del Bianco, Hugo Villa and other carvers of the great monument.


“Richard Cerasani is telling the story of his parents, but, in the end, he is sharing the experience of many workers on Mount Rushmore,” said Jay D. Vogt, director of the State Historical Society. “By using letters, photographs and art, the author has created an engaging new account for readers about this national monument. It is an important piece of history that, until now, was not available.”


Made famous by his role as the villain Bill Watson on “General Hospital,” Richard Cerasani is the middle son of Arthur and Mary Cerasani. He has been a professional actor and member of the Screen Actors Guild, Actors’ Equity Association and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists for some 50 years. He acts under his professional name, Richard Caine.


On the experience of writing “Love Letters from Mount Rushmore,” Cerasani relates, “when I first started this book, Arthur and Mary Cerasani were simply my parents. However, the trunk in the attic revealed a more complete—and complex—picture of the life they had lived for their children and others.”


“Love Letters from Mount Rushmore: The Story of a Marriage, a Monument, and a Moment in History” is available for $29.95 plus shipping and tax and can be purchased from most bookstores or ordered directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Visit, email or call (605) 773-6009.

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Posted in History

Sioux Horse Effigy

by Katlyn Richter on May 23, 2014 · 0 comments

South Dakota’s own Sioux Horse Effigy, an artifact from the collection of the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society, is presently on display in a groundbreaking exhibition of Plains Indian masterworks, entitled  “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky.” We worked very closely with exhibition organizers to ensure the safety and security of the effigy as it is exhibited in three of the best art museums in the world.


The new international, traveling exhibition opened in Paris at musée du quai Branly on April 7. It was organized by quai Branly in partnership with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is curated by Gaylord Torrence, one of the nation’s leading scholars of Plains Indian art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.


“The Plains Indians” will be on view at quai Branly until July 20.  It travels to the Nelson-Atkins Museum for display from Sept. 19 to Jan. 11, 2015. The final stop for the exhibition is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from March 2 to May 10, 2015.


To have one of our prized artifacts included in an exhibit of this magnitude is a great opportunity for the Museum to call attention to our amazing collection. This magnificent artifact, which also serves as the logo of our organization, will be seen by approximately one million people over the next 12 months. We are presently planning a celebration of the Sioux Horse Effigy when it returns to the Cultural Heritage Center in 2015.


This is not the first time the Sioux Horse Effigy has been displayed overseas.   It traveled to Great Britain in 1977 as part of the “Sacred Circles” exhibition.  The effigy was singled out at the time as a unique and important artifact by scholars and art historians during its first run overseas.  This new exhibition promises to bring even more attention to the object – and awareness for the Historical Society and the State of South Dakota as people recognize the great cultural heritage and history of the Mount Rushmore state.


The exhibition, and the inclusion of the effigy, continues to generate a great deal of publicity for the Museum.  The effigy was recently featured in an article in the Kansas City Star about the exhibit, and news stories have appeared in over three dozen news organizations in four states.  Additionally, updates about the effigy can be seen in an exhibit at the Cultural Heritage Center that features the travels of the effigy, as well as Museum’s Facebook page:


For more information about the Sioux Horse Effigy, the traveling exhibit, or the Cultural Heritage Center, visit or call 605.773.3458.


Posted in History

The Badlands is one of my hands down favorite places in South Dakota. There are plenty of places that I love, but what I enjoy the most about Badlands National Park is there is always a new place to discover. It really isn’t surprising that you can find something new each time as the park spans 244,000 acres! The rugged beauty of the park combined with the incredible feeling of being on another planet is thrilling.

When I heard the Badlands Astronomy Festival was returning, I knew it was something that everyone must know about. The festival will bring together space science professionals, amateur astronomers, South Dakota residents, and likely, many visitors from afar. The event is happening July 25-27. The celebration will take place over three days and with provide education programs and hands-on experiences.

To me, enjoying the night sky and celebrating the captivating beauty of our planet and the system above us in the Badlands is the perfect combination. Another cool thing about the festival is that it will not require any advance tickets or registration.

If you’re planning on being in South Dakota and near the area during this time frame, I would highly recommend checking this festival out – unless it’s completely down-pouring, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. On any given night in the Badlands, you can expect to see more than 7,500 stars – pretty spectacular – especially for visitors who may live in a large city and rarely see any stars at night!

For more information on the event, please visit their webpage.