After 25 magnificent years of living in the great state of South Dakota, I left for a small condo in some of the highest peaks of the Rocky Mountains. While my views here are pretty fabulous, I can honestly say there are things you can only find in Rapid City and the Black Hills. Here are the top five things I am the most homesick about.

1. The Needles

Aerial view of the Needles found in Custer State Park
Custer State Park

Seriously, in all my travels I have never found rock formations as beautiful and unique as the granite spires in Custer State Park. I live on the base of a freaking mountain, and I’m still not as impressed as driving through Custer State Park.

2. The Restaurants

Chicken and pineapple tacos from Que Pasa in Downtown Rapid City
Que Pasa

In the tiny town I now call home, there are three unique restaurants, one caters to the extremely wealthy second homeowners, one is a breakfast place that literally drips with bacon grease, and one is a steak house where you grill your own steak… I miss Tally’s SilverspoonQue Pasa?, and The Firehouse Brewing Co. I've literally had dreams about the Rapid City foodie scene, not only because I miss it but because it's actually really good. Before I moved, I went to all my favorite places one last time, I still savor those last tasty trips.

3. M-Hill

Gravel trail leading to the top of M Hill in Rapid City
Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park

As a runner, Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park, commonly referred to as M Hill, is a dream. Perfect uphill and downhill switchbacks and enough trail varieties that a run, hike or bike on M Hill was never dull. There are lots of trails where I live now, but none compare to the beauty and convenience that is M Hill.

4. The Buffalo

Buffalo traffic jam with herd blocking road in Custer State Park
Custer State Park

I have truly driven down steep mountains in search of these beasts. I found a tiny herd one day, but nothing compares to the buffalo herd in Custer State Park. I miss the adrenaline rush of driving through the herd and how awe-inspiring they are to see even at a distance.

5. Skyline Drive and Dinosaur Park

T-rex and Triceratops statues found at Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, SD
Dinosaur Park

I knew I would miss these two. They were staples in my life from an early age. I used to be able to see the mighty Brontosaurus of Dinosaur Park from my front step and driving up the hill to take pictures of the beautiful Rapid City skyline was always one of my favorite things to do.

*Starting October 1, Dinosaur Park will be closed for construction to create accessible pedestrian routes, update safety features, and upgrade visitor amenities including site interpretation. The project is expected to last approximately seven months.

In my last year away from home I’ve learned you can take the girl out of South Dakota, but you can’t take South Dakota out of the girl. I don't get back nearly as much as I should, but you can bet when I do go home I visit at least one of these places.