Throughout our summer road trip we had either been staying with family or camping (with the exception of Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island). South Dakota was probably the most exciting camping night of the trip, after spending the day with Shelli in Minneapolis we drove to Badlands National Park and pitched a tent after midnight. That night was probably the most exciting out of all the nights we had been camping… because we set up of tent in the rain, listened to thunder amidst the flash of lightning, did not get eaten alive by mosquitos and the site was not off a busy highway… all in all it was the most peaceful of all.
Once the morning came we dashed out of the tent while there was a break in the heavy rain and packed up before the clouds opened up and dumped all the water out like it had been doing all night. We got into the park anticipating to go on a hike through “The Wall” but quickly realized how impossible that would be given that the natural landscape is clay and silt. And with the heavy rainfall the trails were slick and we didn’t go off the pavement as much as we would have liked but we still got to take in some of the views before we went to our next destination that day.
On a side note, I am disappointed that I couldn’t find much more information on the South Side of the Badlands National Park, it doesn’t seem to be as supported as the North Side because of politics with the local Indian Reservation. I was hoping to get down there after reading this article from the New York Times (written in 1998) but I knew our car wouldn’t make it on unpaved roads. One day we will go back and explore each park for days instead of hours.
Wind Cave National Park
Two hours east and we came to Wind Cave National Park. The majority of this park is a hilly green range and doesn’t seem too exciting except for the fascinating bison that openly roam the country side and randomly charge stationary vehicles (seriously there are many signs that say to not stop your vehicle near a bison.. but many people do anyways, not the smartest choice). Hence the name, underneath the bison and green pastures are intricate caves that haven’t been 100% discovered yet. We purchased our tickets to go on the Natural Entrance Cave Tour and spent the 90 minutes going further the further into the caves. We saw many different paths to go while underground and I am astounded that people do not get lost more often. I already felt disoriented and couldn’t figure out whether we were going north, south, east or west.
Mount Rushmore National Monument
To end the day (before we drove to Montana to visit my brother Cameron) we stopped by Mount Rushmore. Bobby went on the presidential hike while I got conned into buying a book at the gift shop by an old man, I probably should have gone on the hike instead.
And then began another long drive to end the day.