About the Event
addle up with Col. John Eidsmoe and Bill Potter for a unique five-day tour of America’s Heartland. Our home-base will be Rapid City, South Dakota whence we will venture out on a coach to the iconic attractions of the area: Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug, Badlands National Park, Cave of the Winds, Devils Tower, and much more! Along the way, our guides will be telling the providential history of the Native Americans and settlers that shaped this area into a place of breathtaking beauty and rich history. Bring your boots and hat as we will traverse the dusty trails and rolling hills to get an authentic experience of this special area.
We appreciate your patience as we compiled the schedule below and ask your understanding as we move forward. There are some unique opportunities we are pursuing that may necessitate a change in venues or timing with the schedule outlined below. Our hope is to provide you with some interaction with folks that actually live here that can give us a first-hand perspective on the life of a Christian Indian, a rancher, or civil magistrate in this particular area today, as well as in the past.
Finally, while South Dakota has been a model, in our opinion, of lawful civil magistrates and freedom, the Federal Government controls an immense amount of land in the state. All the National Parks and National Monuments we will be visiting are currently under federal jurisdiction and many have restrictions on capacities and/or mask mandates. Hopefully all this will be in the past by the time we arrive but we want you to know we value freedom and commit we will only ask you to wear a mask if we reenact a train robbery or an episode of the Lone Ranger.
Looking forward to seeing you on the prairie this fall!
Welcome to Rapid City!
Settle in to your room and go grab lunch before joining us for a casual welcome gathering where you will meet your fellow guests, receive your audio equipment, and get a brief overview of the tour from your guides, Col. John Eidsmoe and Bill Potter. After introductions and orientation, we will go downtown to see the sites and then out to Fort Hays for a Chuck Wagon Dinner and Western Show.
We will start the tour in the afternoon with a casual welcome/gathering where you will meet your fellow guests, receive your audio equipment, and get a brief overview of the tour from your tour guides, Col. John Eidsmoe and Bill Potter.
Rapid City is The City of Presidents with statues lining Main and St. Joseph Streets. All formers Presidents are represented but one—and his is in process. Bill Potter and Col. Eidsmoe will comment on some of the more famous, and infamous, Presidents during our afternoon walk downtown, followed by free time to familiarize yourself with our home base.
|1:00pm||Tour begins at the Menger Hotel|
|2:00pm||Walking tour downtown SATX (Stops include: The Alamo, Milam Park, La Villita, Military Plaza)|
|5:00pm||Buckhorn Saloon Museum Tour and Dinner (ending approx. 7pm)|
Cattle, Badlands and Wall Drugs
We will venture out by motor coach through scenic ranch country, headed toward an authentic working cattle ranch where a special guest will describe the importance of ranching to this area and what it takes to make a ranch successful. On the way back we will tour the beautiful Badlands National Park and make a stop at Wall Drug, which is a historic landmark but also a centerpiece of western heritage.
Holy Cow Longhorn Ranch
We are working on scheduling a visit to a working ranch owned by a friend of Col. Eidsmoe. His insight and experience will paint an interesting and educational picture into the life of a rancher here on the great plains. He will also answer the question: why Longhorns?
Badlands National Park
The prairie in all its splendor, Badlands National Park hosts striking geologic deposits containing one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient horses and rhinos once roamed this expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today.
Wall Drug Store
It’s hard to believe Wall Drug Store got its start with something many wouldn’t even turn their heads at today… the promise of free ice water. The ultimate roadside souvenir stop, Wall Drug boasts the largest collection of Western art in the US, along with a café and gift shop.
Chapel of the Hills, Custer State Park, and Harney Peak
Today, we head south from Rapid City to Custer State Park Col Eidsmoe and Bill Potter tell us about Custer’s history in the War Between the States and in the West, along with Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and other notable characters that shaped the region. On the way out we will visit the Chapel of the Hills, a replica of an old Norse stavkirke (stave church) of the style a thousand years ago. On the way back we will visit the Needles, some magnificent rock formations, and , time permitting, stop and climb Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota (7,400 feet) and the highest point in North America east of the Rockies. There is an observation station at the top, and a breathtaking view in all directions, including looking down upon Mt. Rushmore.
Custer State Park
George Armstrong Custer is an iconic figure, having served in the Union Army during the Civil War and later plying his trade against the Indian tribes of the Great Plains. We will explain the dynamics between the US government and the Indian tribes led by Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and others.
Chapel of the Hills
Many of the original settlers of the Dakotas and surrounding states were Norwegian Lutherans. Two of these men partnered to construct a chapel built in the style of an original stave church (in Norwegian, “stavkirke”). The chapel is an exact replica of the famous Borgund stavkirke, of Laerdal, Norway, built around the year 1150.
A moderate 7-mile round trip hike will take us to the summit of Harney Peak, the highest point in the US east of the Rocky Mountains. The first Americans believed to have reached the summit were a party led by General George Armstrong Custer in 1874. A shorter hike is available.
Bear Butte, Black Hills National Cemetery, Devils Tower
We will point our coach west and set out toward Bear Butte, a butte just east of the Black Hills that is a sacred site for many Indian tribes. A hike up Bear Butte is not difficult and affords a very nice view of the South Dakota plains. A stop at the Black Hills National Cemetery by Sturgis will afford an opportunity to meet some notable people that were used by God in unique ways to play a key role in WWII. Our ultimate destination is the breathtaking Devils Tower, just across the Wyoming border. As the first National Monument it set a precedent of preservation and controversy that continues today.
Bear Butte is a sacred site for many Indian tribes. The Cheyenne believed that an ancient chief named Sweet Medicine met the Great Spirit who gave him the laws and sacred arrows of the Cheyenne here. We will learn at this historic site how Indian religions impacted their worldview.
Black Hills National Cemetery
Notable burials include Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Charles Windolph (Indian Wars) and Brig. Gen. Richard E. Ellsworth, Commander of Rapid City Air Force Base (later renamed Ellsworth Air Force Base in his honor) as well as John Bear King and Clarence Eugene Wolf Guts, two of the eleven Lakota Code Talkers, a top-secret program in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
Rising 867 feet from base to summit, Devils Tower is an igneous butte that intruded through the sedimentary shale and limestone of the plains. This iconic geologic column was the first United States national monument, established on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Cave of the Winds and Mt. Rushmore
Our final day we will head south and then underground at the magnificent Wind Cave National Park to explore the beauty beneath the rich prairie soil. Once back on the surface we will head down the road for a nice farewell supper before spending the afternoon and evening at Mt. Rushmore. We will stay for the beautiful illumination ceremony at dusk before heading back to town and a good nights rest.
Gutzon Borglum carved the mammoth busts of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln into the face of Mount Rushmore. Surrounded by the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota, they tell the story of the birth, growth, development and preservation of this country.
Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave is one of the world’s largest known caves with over 150 miles of mapped passages, making it the third-longest cave in the U.S. and the sixth-longest cave in the world. The cave is well known for its outstanding display of boxwork, an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs.
We will enjoy a delicious Western-themed dinner where we will recap the tour and send you back home with a new understanding of the American West and a wagonload of great memories!
Historian Bill Potter
An experienced historian and avid bibliophile, Bill Potter combines a lifelong study of American history with an uncommon ability to captivate audiences of all ages as he traces the providential acts of God throughout the ages. Mr. Potter has taught history in high schools and colleges, has led many tours of American and European historical sites and brings to each event a wealth of experience and knowledge. An experienced researcher and writer, Mr. Potter possesses a practical knowledge of antiquarian books, documents, and artifacts and has published several short books and has penned many articles and book reviews for publication. Bill has earned a well-deserved reputation as a man gifted in communicating the story of God’s providential hand in American history. As a father of eight children, he appreciates the necessity of passing on to the succeeding generations the richness of both our regional and national history. He and his wife, Leslie, reside in Virginia.
John Eidsmoe is a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and Alabama State Defense Force Colonel, and a graduate of the Air Command & Staff College and the Air War College. He is Professor of Law at the Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy and, in his various teaching assignments, his students have given him the Outstanding Professor Award or Professor of the Year Award five times. He has served as Senior Staff Attorney with the Alabama Supreme Court and is currently Legal Counsel for the Foundation for Moral Law. Eidsmoe also serves on the boards of Lutherans for Life, The Plymouth Rock Foundation, and the Gospel Martial Arts Union, and is a constitutional attorney who has defended homeschools, Christian schools, the right of students to study the Bible in public schools, and the right to display the Ten Commandments in the public arena. He has authored numerous books, including Historical & Theological Foundations of Law, Christianity & the Constitution, God & Caesar, and Columbus & Cortez, and has produced a variety of audio and video lecture albums including The Institute on the Constitution and Here I Stand: A Biblical Worldview for a New Millennium. He holds seven academic degrees in law, theology, history, and political science. He and his wife, Marlene, have been married since 1970, have three children, and live in rural Pike Road, Alabama.
Included in This Tour
- Admission to all venues
- All guide and docent fees
- Welcome Chuck-wagon Dinner!
- Farewell banquet before Mt Rushmore illumination ceremony.
- 2 picnic lunches
- Transportation on Deluxe Motor Coach
- Electronic headset receiver for ease of hearing guides
- Biblical/providential interpretation from Col. John Eidsmoe & historian Bill Potter
- Special local guest speakers
- Rich fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ
- Landmark Events’ signature service throughout the tour
* Children must ride on the lap of an adult family member and share meals to be free. If you want your child to have his own seat and meals, register him under the youth category.
We have secured a block of rooms at the Hampton Inn Mt. Rushmore in Rapid City for $154 per night including breakfast, parking and wi-fi starting Sunday, September 12 through Saturday, September 18. The tour starts at 2pm on Monday September 13 in the lobby. Book online via this link. Note the default start date is September 13 on the Hampton website so you will need to change that if you are arriving Sunday, September 12. If you desire additional dates outside of our tour, please contact the hotel directly. Reservations can also be made by calling the hotel directly at (605) 341-1879 and requesting the Spirit of the West rate. Reservations must be made by August 13 in order to qualify for this discounted rate.
Hampton Inn Suites Rapid City Rushmore
825 Eglin Street, Rapid City, SD 57701
As with all cities we visit, there is a wide array of accommodations to meet your budget and comfort level and you are welcome to stay wherever best suits your family’s needs. We suggest using Trip Advisor as a starting place for your research.
When does the tour start and end?
- The tour starts with a welcome gathering at 2pm on Monday, 9/13 at the hotel. Afterward we will take you downtown to familiarize you with downtown Rapid City and have a nice dinner.
- Our Farewell Banquet will conclude around 8pm on Friday, 9/17.
Can I drive?
- Certainly! Free parking is available at the Hampton Inn for guests.
What airport would I fly into?
- Rapid City Regional (RAP) Located 11 miles from downtown Rapid City. Taxi or Uber available to transport you to the hotel, no hotel shuttle.
Do I need a car?
- No, although you may want to have one for your off-hours convenience and exploration. Rentals available at the airport. Plenty of restaurants within walking distance of the Hampton Inn or take a 3-mile taxi ride downtown for even more options. We will be traveling out on a motorcoach each day, leaving from the Hampton Inn.
Are hotel rooms included in the price?
- No, but we have negotiated a friendly rate at the new Hampton Inn and Suites—see the accommodations section above for details. You are free to stay wherever you like, but keep In mind that the coach leaves from the Hampton Inn each day.
Are there any meals included in the registration?
- Yes. Dinner on the first and last nights of the tour is included, as well as two lunches.
Will I see a live buffalo?
- Yes, lots of them, Lord willing. You will even have an opportunity to enjoy some for dinner!
What about Covid?
- South Dakota has been a model of freedom in our opinion, never locking down or forcing masks on the citizenry, while maintaining a lower than average percentage of cases and deaths. However, the Federal Government owns a tremendous amount of land in the state and we will be going to many of those National Parks. Currently, mask mandates remain for indoor spaces in the National Parks although we cannot speak to the level of enforcement. We anticipate restrictions will ease or dissolve by the time we get there. We will be monitoring the situation and keep you appraised of any developments.
How much walking is there?
- It depends on you. A typical day will total about 1 -2 miles of walking for most folks. We have allotted time for those who wish to spend a few hours on some moderate hikes like Black Elk Peak and Bear Butte. Less rigorous options will be available for those that operate in a different gear.
What should I bring?
- Comfortable clothing with a light jacket and rain gear would be appropriate. Shorts are fine, as are appropriate t-shirts. There is no need for a coat or tie, unless it’s a bolo. We ask that all clothing be modest in coverage, fit and appearance. Lots of time outside so good shoes or boots will make the trip more enjoyable, along with a hat and some sunscreen. We will issue you an audio receiver that allows you to hear our guides from a distance through headphones or earbuds, which we provide. Some folks prefer to bring their own, so note that the audio sets take a 3.5 mm jack for headphones and are not Bluetooth compatible.
Image Credits: 1 Badlands (Wikimedia.org) 2 Rapid City Presidents (TripAdvisor.com) 3 1880 Town and Schoolhouse (TripAdvisor.com) 4 Badlands (TripAdvisor.com) 5 Wall Drug Store (TripAdvisor.com) 6 Custer State Park (TripAdvisor.com) 7 Chapel in the Hills (TripAdvisor.com) 8 Black Elk Peak (TripAdvisor.com) 9 Bear Butte State Park (TripAdvisor.com) 10 Black Hill National Cemetery (TripAdvisor.com) 11 Devils Tower (TripAdvisor.com) 12 Mount Rushmore (TripAdvisor.com) 13 Wind Cave National Park (TripAdvisor.com) 14 Campfire (Unsplash.com)