Surprise surprise, we are behind! One thing we thought when we started our US tour was how easy it would be to stay current with blogs, photos etc. I mean, we figured we would have cell service everywhere since we were in our home country. Wrong! Our national parks are in some remote territories. It definitely caught us by surprise, but at the same time has been great to explore without distractions.
We are currently in Canada at a large coffee chain that has fairly good Wifi and have just spent two weeks exploring Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, a ranch in Montana, and Glacier National Park. We will have some photos and a post later this week (fingers crossed!), but for now we will recap our time in South Dakota.
Badlands National Park
After we left Iowa, we had a long drive through corn country in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. The fields of corn were literally endless. The other thing we realized was how much wind power we have out in those parts. In many ways it looked like Europe!
The Badlands almost came up out of nowhere. One minute it’s corn, the next it looks like Mars. As we drove into the park, we could not believe the landscape. Pointed rock formations of all shapes, sizes and colors. It really was like being on another planet.
While the weather was a bit unpredictable, we were able to get in a full day exploring this area. It was wild! The photos just don’t fully do it justice.
Custer State Park & The Black Hills
After the Badlands we drove through the famous tourist trap of Wall, South Dakota on our way to Custer State Park and the Black Hills National Forest. These two parks border each other and we spent three full days exploring the area.
On day one we did the big wildlife loop drive in Custer and it was like being on a safari in America. We saw all kinds of deer, birds and then we were engulfed in our car by a herd of bison. It was insane!
On day two we hiked up to Black Elk Peak, which is the highest point east of the Rockies and west of the Pyrennes. Of course, by the time we got up there the weather changed and we could not see a thing. We can only imagine the panoramic views on a clear day. Nonetheless, it was a very cool hike from Sylvan Lake through the tall pines to the top.
On our last day we hit the Mount Rushmore & Crazy Horse monuments. While we were a little nervous about doing these (we hate touristy things) we were pleasantly surprised. We arrived early enough where Mount Rushmore was still quiet and were able to catch the Presidents in the morning light. It was pretty cool to finally see it in person and is amazing how they carved the heads into the mountainside. Crazy Horse we drove by from a distance, but was still cool to see this monument being built right before our eyes.
On our way out of South Dakota, we stopped in Rapid City for lunch and continued north into Wyoming. This was easily one of our longest days of travel yet, but we will address that in our next post. Until then...