Fort Pierre To Deadwood Trail Re-Enactment
Are you a history buff? If so, you might be interested in viewing the Fort Pierre to Deadwood Trail wagon train re-enactment that will take place in South Dakota from July 30 to August 15, 2008.
The Fort Pierre to Deadwood Trail was a primary transportation route for people and freight after the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1874. Getting people and goods the 200 miles from Fort Pierre, the closest river port, to Deadwood was accomplished by the most efficient way available at the time “” wagon train. Horses, mules, and oxen were used to pull open wagons, carts, and stagecoaches. The route followed an old buffalo trail that had been used by American Indians for hundreds of years. At the walking speed made by the wagon trains, the 15 miles per day traveled was slow, but eventually they delivered millions of pounds of goods and thousands of people to their Deadwood destination. By 1908, however, with faster and cheaper transportation available, farmers and ranchers began fencing their homesteads, cutting the trail that eventually fell into the boneyard of history.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the closing of the trail, the Verendrye Museum in Fort Pierre has organized this wagon train re-enactment. Approximately 300 participants will proceed in wagons, stagecoaches, on horseback, or on foot “” no motorized vehicles are allowed. Each morning the trail participants will “mount up and move out.” Most of the trail cuts across private property, but many township and county roads are crossed.
These crossings provide an opportunity for visitors and tourists to observe the wagon train in motion. Each night the public is invited to participate in the evening encampment activities, which are planned to include lectures by local historians; briefings by biologists, ranchers, and craftsmen; music; and food. Upon reaching Deadwood, the wagon train will be greeted with a major celebration. South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds and Lieutenant Governor Dennis Daugaard are scheduled to speak during the event.
Visiting the wagon train is encouraged, but no overnight camping will be allowed by non-trail registrants at the evening campsites. However, campgrounds are available for RVers in towns close to the trail route and evening encampment sites.
For more information about the re-enactment, visit www.fortpierredeadwoodtrail.com.
“” Gary Grittner, F233433
Family-Friendly Park Experiences
For every family, there is a perfect national park vacation. Selecting the right one requires a bit of planning and research, plus factoring in family dynamics such as age and fitness level. Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which operates properties at various U.S. national parks and monuments, offers these suggestions for age-appropriate park activities. For more information, visit www.xanterra.com.
Families with children 5 and under:
The Old West Dinner Cookout in Yellowstone National Park. Horse-drawn wagons carry visitors through sagebrush flats to the cookout site while wranglers tell stories about the Old West. Guests enjoy a hearty buffet-style meal while listening to a cowboy sing Western ballads.
The Volcano Boat Cruise Tour at Crater Lake National Park. This guided tour explores 1,945-foot Crater Lake, the deepest and clearest lake in the country, surrounded by lava walls up to 2,000 feet high.
The “Monumental Scoop” of ice cream at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This massive dessert is practically enough to feed a family of four. The hand-dipped or soft-serve ice cream is served in the Memorial Team Ice Cream station.
Families with children 5-8:
The Grand Canyon Railway. This excursion gives kids a chance to experience a real train ride, be entertained by the pre-train “wild West shootout,” and see the Grand Canyon, all in one day.
The chance to virtually “blow up” Mount Rushmore at the National Park Service Visitor Center. The interactive exhibit features a plunger that can be pushed down to trigger a perfectly timed video of an actual Mount Rushmore sculptor’s dynamite-driven explosion.
Families with children 8-11:
Climbing the Desert View Watchtower at Grand Canyon National Park. Modeled after ancient ancestral Puebloan watchtowers, this 70-foot structure is the highest point on the South Rim and offers stunning 360-degree views of the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the San Francisco Peaks, and the Vermilion Cliffs. Kids also will get a kick out of climbing the spiral stairs along rock walls that feature colorful Hopi murals. The watchtower is a featured part of a half-day motor coach tour along the East Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Families with children 12-16:
A 10 1/2-mile mule trip to Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Participants spend one or two nights on the canyon floor in comfortable accommodations and return to the South Rim. A seven-hour day trip also is offered that takes riders from the South Rim to Plateau Point and back.
Fishing on Yellowstone Lake. Charter boats with experienced fishing guides, gear, life jackets, and even fish-cleaning services are available at this lake, which is home to native cutthroat trout and exotic lake trout.
Families with older children:
Hiking. Consult National Park Service rangers when choosing the best one for your family. Options include an extremely strenuous four-hour hike at Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, which ends at a summit high above Zion Canyon. The last half-mile follows a steep, narrow ridge where chains have been added for support.
Scotty’s Castle, named for “Death Valley Scotty.” The Moorish-style castle located at the north end of Death Valley National Park was built between 1922 and 1931 on the site of a “secret gold mine.” Park service staff dressed in 1930s costumes tell the tale of Death Valley Scotty and his mine while they guide visitors on a tour of the complex, which contains exquisite tile work and furniture.
New Book Highlights U.S. Zoos
America’s Best Zoos: A Travel Guide for Fans and Families ($15.95, The Intrepid Traveler), by Allen W. Nyhuis and Jon Wassner, takes readers on a tour of the top 60 zoos in the United States.
Each zoo review “” grouped by geographical region “” includes general information (address, phone number, Web site, hours, admission and fees, directions) as well as featured exhibits at the particular facility, other exhibits, attractions for kids, and new exhibits that will be opening soon. The authors also provide information about 37 “Best of the Rest” zoos at the end of the appropriate regional chapters.
Of course, you’re not limited to watching the animals in most zoos these days. The authors note opportunities to interact with the animals at each zoo, ranging from walking among them to feeding to petting and grooming “” with a special emphasis on children’s activities of all kinds. The book also offers tips for having more fun when touring a zoo with children.
Readers also will find profiles of 29 lesser-known animals and where to see them; a glossary of zoo terminology; the top 10 U.S. zoo exhibits in 20 categories; and the authors’ personal picks for the 25 best U.S. zoo exhibits. An animal index points to the whereabouts of every animal in the book, an especially handy tool if you want to know which zoo to visit to see a rare animal or a personal favorite.
America’s Best Zoos: A Travel Guide for Fans and Families can be purchased at bookstores, through online booksellers, or from the publisher at www.intrepidtraveler.com; (203) 469-0214.