Are you ready for an awesome update from the Dakotas? We’ve been busy the past 2 days between the Badlands and the Black Hills. Last night’s hotel didn’t have the greatest wireless connection, hence why today’s post is covering 2 days.
We started Wednesday morning at Badlands National Park, which I visited last year for the first time. Last year, it was hot and sunny. This time around it was cloudy and cold when we first got into the park. Granted, it was around 8:30 am Mountain time when we got there. Eventually, the sun came out as we drove our way through the park.
After Badlands it was onward to Mount Rushmore! I also visited here last year on my way out to Oregon. Even though the 4 faces are the same, it was a definitely a different experience. Julie and I decided to hike the Presidential Trail and caught the second half of a ranger walk/talk. It was very cool and I learned even more about the 4 presidents (Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, & Lincoln).
Last stop on Wednesday was Crazy Horse Monument. To be honest, while the monument is awesome, I felt like I was just going through the motions for part of the time while we were there. I saw it last year and not a ton had changed. Plus, I was tired from being on the go for almost 11 hours and it was raining outside. I’m really excited though about the piece of Sioux pottery I bought. I can’t wait to incorporate it into my decor at home. The picture below was actually taken today as we were passing by the monument again.
Today was a very special day. It’s Julie’s 25th birthday!!! We started our morning off in Custer, SD, in the heart of the Black Hills.
Our first stop for the day was Wind Cave National Park. Finally, a place that was new to both me and Julie! We only did the auto tour through the prairie and opted not to do a cave tour. No tour because: a) it costed money while entry to the rest of the park was free, b) caves kind of freak me out for some reason, and c) we didn’t want to spend a huge amount of our time here because we had to get up to North Dakota by the end of the day.
Directly north of Wind Cave National Park is Custer State Park. I’ve read that Custer State Park rivals many national parks in its awesomeness. We saw a variety of wildlife including: bison, prairie dogs, curl horn sheep, mule deer, and burros (check out our slight traffic jam below). Towards the end of our time in the park, we found a picnic area by a lake and had some lunch. It was chilly due to the wind, and it was pretty.
Our day ended by driving north through the Black Hills, northwestern South Dakota and into North Dakota. Once we were out of the Black Hills, our scenery was back to cattle, sheep, and grazing pasture land for as far as you could see. It got old as soon as it started. Tomorrow should be a fun day as we check out the Theodore Roosevelt National Park!