Nestled in western South Dakota, the town of Deadwood sits at the northern part of the beautiful Black Hills National Forest, just about an hour drive from Rapid City. Our day began in Badlands National Park, and would end at Devils Tower, Wyoming, so this was the perfect place to stop and grab a bite to eat while soaking in a little bit of wild west history.

Illegally settled on Lakota land in the 1870’s, Deadwood’s population reached over 25,000 during it’s heyday as people came in search of gold, and included well-known figures of the old west such as Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickock who was shot here just a few short weeks after his arrival, while playing poker in Saloon Number 10.

copyright T Wagner Studios

Choosing to go through Deadwood on our way to Devil’s Tower was a bit of a last minute decision. If there are multiple route options between destinations and they all have similar, or at least reasonable, timeframes, I like to have them all mapped out and will often cast the final vote on the fly. Coincidentally, our arrival here couldn’t have been timed any better. We parked the car and started walking up the street, which was packed full of tourists as everyone was pulling up a chunk of sidewalk preparing to watch a scene right out of the old west begin to unfold in front of us.

copyright T Wagner Studios

Six days a week Deadwood Alive holds free reenactments in the street, giving tourists the opportunity to experience legendary shootouts, and we walked in right as they were beginning to tell the story of David Lunt, who lived for 67 days after being shot in the head, the bullet completely passing through his skull.

We spent about two hours total in this historic town, which was enough time to see the reenactment, check out some of the shops along the main street, and grab lunch before we headed out to our next destination. We settled on quick and easy for our late lunch at Mustang Sally’s, which had your typical sports bar menu, including a veggie burger for the meatless among you.

In general, the town was really crowded, so a quick stop might be enough for some of you, but if you’re into this wild west atmosphere and history, I’d probably suggest giving it half a day and check out some of the museums and learn more about the town. It’s easy to access from Rapid City or Custer, with plenty of beautiful scenery along the way.

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