US Road Trip – Part 1 – The Badlands and Mount Rushmore

October 28, 2014 Viviane and I hit the road to head out west. We went direct from Wisconsin to South Dakota, which was quite the drive for our first day but the roads are good / straight, the land is flat, and the speed limit is high so we went a long way. We made pit stops near the Mississippi River and in St. Charles, MN at the Cabin Coffee Company for some grub and a quick rest before continuing on.

 

We passed wind farm along the way that stretched off into the distance:

Then we got into South Dakota at the end of the day. We were very tired and arrived at Hill’s RV Park and Campground in Plankinton, SD just before dawn. The first day we had traveled about 600 miles / 965 km and spent about 11 hours on the road.

We ended up leaving on our journey later then we had planned so camping was not so awesome, we might have been better off taking one of the cabins they had on offer but we stuck to our plans and camped. It got down to 42 degrees Fahrenheit or 6 degrees Celsius but we stuck it out in the tent. After this we decided it’d be best to buy a little space heater though.

We then had breakfast at Al’s I-90 cafe which is exactly as you think it would be, mostly local farmers in for their daily cup of coffee and they all know each other’s names. After that we hit the road again headed towards the Badlands, passing over the Missouri River along the way.

 

 

Before the Badlands though, a trip through South Dakota has to include a stop at the famous Wall Drug. It wasn’t all it was hyped up to be, the billion signs along the road really built up the expectations and it was interesting but not the highlight of our trip for sure.

 

 

Next it was the Badlands which is a great National Park. The roads were excellent, looked like they were recently re-done so the ride was buttery smooth. When you think of the Badlands, an image came to my mind of this barren wasteland with no life but there was animals all over the place: prairie dogs, bison, rabbits, snakes, and bighorn sheep. The landscape with all the different colored soiled was truly breathtaking and we wished we could have spent more time here. One day we’ll go back and camp here so we can explore a bit more, it was too short of a visit to do the place justice.

 

 

 

 

 

We then made our way to the campground for the night, getting a nice prairie sunset along the way.

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In the morning we woke up to find wild turkeys roaming around.

 

The campground bathroom was annoying to take a shower in, they had sensor triggered lights so the lights would turn off and we’d have to get out of the shower stall to wave our hands around to get the lights to turn back on. I’d guess usually there is more people so it is not a problem but we were the only crazy ones camping at this time.

Next up was Mount Rushmore, easily the most patriotic place we’d visit during our road trip. This was the first hilly terrain our beastly car would face, so I was curious as to how it’d respond and it did just fine. A bit deceptively we had to pay for parking at Mount Rushmore, we had bought the America the Beautiful annual pass for $80 thinking we wouldn’t have to pay to enter anywhere. So Mount Rushmore is free to enter but you have to pay for parking 🙄 Luckily it was one of the only places like this.

 

Chipmunk! I spotted it outside the restaurant and gift store at Mount Rushmore. It seemed fairly recently renovated as it was really nice inside and had wi-fi so Viviane was able to call her mom to show her what we were up to.

We then went back to the campground for some rest as we had a long drive the next day. Next on our trip was the Devil’s Tower which was pretty much a pit stop on our way to Yellowstone National Park which was one of the destinations we’d been looking forward to the most.

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