A July 2005 trip
to Lead by Karen S.
Quote: If you love nature and you are interested in a getaway where you can kick back in the silence of the mountains, Barefoot Resorts in Lead, SD, is the place for you.
Roads that look straight on the maps are NOT. Take your Dramamine!! We highly recommend that you take the roads that are NOT straight throughout the trip. These are 35 mph MAX roads through VERY scenic country. Take some of the gravel roads as an alternate route early in the morning or late day for lots of wildlife.
Avoid the crowds by planning to be at a location right away in the morning. Find out when feeding time is at Bear Country. Too hot to do anything? Do a cave tour - 54 degrees feels great in summer!
Hike, bike, and hike some more! The mountain air is intoxicating!
They had good movies to rent on site, and a little grocery so you didn't have to run to town if you forgot something. The people were very nice and helpful when we had questions.
This is a great place to return to after a day of driving around doing all the fun things South Dakota has to offer. Honestly, the only thing we heard was an occasional car going up our driveway and the sound of the pines swaying in the breeze. Wildlife abounds here, and the mist over the mountains in the morning is breathtaking. Plenty of room in our place for a family of four, and great service. We'd go back again.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 30, 2005
21111 Barefoot Loop
Lead, South Dakota 57754
Restaurant | "Lewie's"
Dine on the deck with the mountains all around you.
Ask at the gas station in Lead how to get there. It is right on the main drag, but out of town about a mile.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 30, 2005
Lewie's Burgers & Brews
711 S Main St
Lead, South Dakota
We planned our stay of 7 days in July by making a list of all the activities our family wanted to experience. Be advised of very warm temps during the day, and cooler at night. The mountain temps were quite a bit cooler than Rapid City temps. We used the SD tourism site to get started, and here are some of the things we chose:
Activity Best Time Other
See Mt. Rushmore Early am – for best lighting and fewer crowds - OR – 9pm for nightly lighting show. You will just pay for parking here.
Tour Jewel Cave
Hot days/rainy days/midday – call ahead for reservations so you can arrive and go right in. Incredible thing to do, people of all ages loved it, third longest cave in U.S., definitely wear good shoes and take a small flashlight.
Visit Mammoth Graveyard, have kids do a fossil dig Go early to avoid the crowds Kid fossil digs are booked way out…you have to reserve a time at least a month ahead of time, very cool to see excavation in progress, see how big they were.
See Crazy Horse We would not do it again You can see it from the road…we would never spend $24 for the family to just watch a movie of the story of it…you had to pay more to go up close to the bottom of the mountain…
1880 Train Ride We never got a chance to do this, but we heard it was very cool for families
Ride Mickelson Trail on mountain bikes Anytime - This trail has a moderate grade, and you can choose where to start based on what you want to see. This is an old railroad bed, so the grade is less than 3-4%, I think, and it goes over bridges, through the mountains, and through tunnels carved in the mountains. You’ll be all alone and able to enjoy the mountains at their best. Take bear mace along, bring water for everyone, take a cell phone for emergencies, and be alert. Mountain lions are out and about in the late day and early morning, but if you make lots of noise, you can be sure they won’t be surprised by you. There is a small fee for use of the trail, but it was worth it.
Visit Custer State Park/drive wildlife loop Early am or late day This was amazing. We were feet away from the grunting, grazing buffalo. Some dumb person hollered at one and the male charged his truck. Be safe and just feel their size and sounds all around you. Wow!! We saw a coyote sneaking up on an antelope mother and baby and the males went after him. We saw mountain goats, deer everywhere in velvet with huge racks, prairie dogs, wild burros, etc.
Flags and Wheels Amusement Good for rainy days, hot days Indoor place to do paintball, laser tag, batting practice, bumper cars, go carts, and racing carts. Call ahead for age/height restrictions if you are going with kids. Sort of pricey, but it was good to have something to do during the rainy part of a day.
Black Hills Maze Early am to avoid the hot sun Fun and frustrating…this huge maze requires you to go to four towers go over four bridges, then find your way back to the start. Looks and sounds easy, but plan to be in the maze for 30 min – 2 hours. There are easy escape doors if you want to quit. You can also do water wars, a zip line, or climb the rock climbing wall. Something different the whole family can enjoy! Not much shade – wear a hat!
Gulches of Fun Amusements Not if it has been wet – they close carts down if wet This is close to the Barefoot Resort, but very pricey. You have to pay for all the different options with tickets that are definitely not cheap. Worth checking out, but watch your pocketbook.
Reptile Gardens You could spend most of a day here There are shows going on all day long. Definitely see the gator show and spend some time slowly going through the exhibits. Kids love the facts, like how many frozen mice are used each year to feed the animals, and they love the corny antics of the show performers.
Visit waterfalls of Spearfish Canyon Go after it has been raining Take the drive through Spearfish Canyon and plan to stop often and get out and hike to see the many beautiful waterfalls along the road. We started in Lead and went south and did a loop up to Spearfish and back down to Lead. Great photo opportunities!!
Drive through Bear Country USA Call for feeding times, early am for fewer cars Drive slow and look around…wolves, bears, elk, mountain goats, mountain lions, etc…they are all over and more visible than in a zoo. The mountain lions were hanging out in a tree above our van, and the bears just wander around the cars as you slowly drive through. Wolves were lounging on big boulders, and reindeer were relaxing in the shade. The kids ooohhed and ahhed and laughed at the silly things the bears were doing. A MUST SEE!!!!
Old-fashioned shootout Late day in Deadwood Find out about this silliness as you hang out in town and see a live shootout throughout the afternoon. After the last shootout of the day, the "sheriff" takes the villain to the trial, which everyone can attend…full of laughs!!
Hike with kids Not in the heat of the day Take water, trail guides, find out about a trail that fits your fitness level, take bear mace, and have a great time!! There are trails everywhere that you can all enjoy. You won’t believe the number of deer that just stand around grazing as you walk past. There is just something amazing about hiking in the mountains if you haven’t been in the mountains before!!
Panning for gold Anytime In Lead, there is an old open pit mine where you can learn how to pan for gold. One of our kids loved it and the other had no interest. There is a small museum there. Not the most exciting for the kids, but the size of the hole was enormous.
Sat in hot tub on deck overlooking mountains while kids swam - INCREDIBLE!! We watched the does and fawns playing in the long grass of the ski hill across the road and watched the sky turn from blue to red over the mountains. WE LOVED IT!!