South Dakota – Mount Rushmore National Monument & Badlands National Park (July 2016)

(Day 1) Driving adventure begins from St. Louis, Missouri to Rapid City, South Dakota!  With cargo and bike racks freshly installed on our SUV we pulled out of the driveway to begin 15-hour drive.

Road trip underway - arrival in Black Hills, South Dakota!
Arrival in South Dakota!

With a 4am start things were going well until 30 minutes in we realized an important work folder was left behind…so we turned around – let’s make that a 16-hour drive ahead!  Ever wonder if you were in a car all day with kids how many times they would ask, ‘When are we going to be there or are we there yet?!’  We opted to keep tally and ended at 82 before arriving at our cabin in the Black Hills late evening!  Once settled in, house seemed quaint until mouse scurried across the living room and ran out the chimney…

(Day 2) Landlord promptly came over to cover chimney access to eliminate mouse issue. With rain pouring outside we took a brief drive but opted to turn around and make it a lazy day full of reading, games, and Legos. Early evening Aaron drove 45 min to town to reach Wi-Fi to work for the night.  Meanwhile, after the boys were asleep I realized I wasn’t alone…. several furry friends (i.e., mice) began running up and down the hallway.  After jumping onto the bed and realizing there was no longer a quick escape (i.e., chimney issue resolved) I was horrified to see they were stuck running around the house.  If you would have seen me trying to coax mice out the front door, meanwhile not actually touching the ground, I’m sure it was quite the scene!  Once unsuccessful, new objective was to keep them out of the bedrooms…


(Day 3) Landlord contacted (obviously!) and we hit the road early to see Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Custer State Park.  As we followed the Presidential Trail, the boys were intrigued learning about how the faces in the mountain got there and enjoyed completing a series of activities to earn their Mount Rushmore Junior Ranger badges.

Excited to arrive at Mount Rushmore
Excited to arrive at Mount Rushmore
Fantastic flag entry
Final step in Junior Ranger Process - Pledge
Final step in Junior Ranger Process – Pledge







Then we went to Wildlife Loop Road for what we now refer to as our ‘safari’ – we had the opportunity to see lots of buffalo, deer and feed churros right from our car window!

Family 'safari' - so much fun feeding churros!
Family ‘safari’ – so much fun feeding churros!


Churros love carrots!
Churros love carrots!

With great landscapes and forest feel in the Black Hills, we were excited to go quickly pack our things and move to a newer, very spacious cabin (notable upgrade compliments of beyond sympathetic landlord).

Buffalo crossing!
Buffalo crossing!









(Day 4) Aaron ventured off to Badlands National Park for a 30-mile bike ride and enjoyed the unique views.

Aaron's 30 mile bike ride in Badlands National Park
Aaron’s 30 mile bike ride in Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park








The boys and I stayed at our new cabin and took advantage of the amenities – we had fun reading, playing games, painting pictures & pinecones, hiking, biking and playing baseball.  Then got locked out on the balcony by Samuel before being rescued by a neighbor!

Enjoying painting outside
Enjoying painting outside
Boys so excited we brought their bikes along
Boys so excited we brought their bikes along










(Day 5) Headed out at 3am and were the first visitors at Devil’s Tower in Wyoming at 4:15am. Full day in the car as we headed toward Glacier National Park in Montana…

Devil's Tower, Wyoming
Devil’s Tower, Wyoming
Favorite Kid Quotes:
  • “Just call George – he can do it/find it/fix it!”  (i.e., Aaron called in route home from Badlands, 45 min out, I walked out on a balcony so I could hear better on the phone….boys followed and Samuel locked us out! With storm clouds quickly approaching…landlord sent over a neighbor named George to rescue us…thus Samuel now thinks random nice gentleman on 4-wheeler is capable of all things at a minutes notice…regardless of task, city or state!) 
  • “This bread tastes like pizza dough, if we put it in the oven it would turn into a pancake!”
  • “What just happened?  Did the sun break?”
  • “You can’t get anywhere close to the sun because it’s made of fire and it will burn your rocket and space boots.”
  • “That’s a fabulous idea – we haven’t done that (i.e., make s’mores & look at stars) in like 100 years!”
  • “I hope our cabin has bunk beds.”  “Well, I hope it is full of scary ghosts!”

Thank you for taking time to share in our journey – next up Glacier National Park in Montana  – remote days filled with notable animals and adventurous hikes!


3 thoughts on “South Dakota – Mount Rushmore National Monument & Badlands National Park (July 2016)

  1. Very nice update! I felt like I was along for the journey….and I would have gotten the mice out for you, Laura, while you stood on the bed! Safe travels to your next adventure and look forward to ‘traveling along’ with you. Much love to all of you! Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

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