Wednesday, June 23 (Badlands, Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore, and Devils Tower)

The long drive was totally worth it.  Our view out the windows in the morning was unexpected and absolutely beautiful.  We made a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, packed up the truck, made a quick stop at the visitor’s center, and started our tour of the Badlands.  It felt good to finally slow down the driving and start seeing things. 


Looking out the front door of the camper


Happy to start seeing the sights!




We drove through the park and stopped at most of the main overlooks and short walks along the way. Julia declared the place awesome and wanted to stay, but there was just so much to see! The girls had a map with them and couldn’t wait to see Big Foot Pass, thinking it had something to do with the creature and not the Native American leader it was named after. They were a little disappointed, so we decided we needed to do some background on the native people of the Black Hills area while we drove. We shared what we knew and read the guide sheets from the park.  We ended up most impressed that Chief Big Foot moved his people 65 miles in 4 days through that terrain.

Without any longer backcountry hikes planned, stopping at the overlooks was a pretty quick process. 

Managing the dog at Badlands wasn’t too bad ‘cause we weren’t heading out of the overlook areas. He was allowed in the parking areas and along most of the viewing points. There was only one stop where we couldn’t take him with us because it was a short boardwalk trail, so Mike and I just took turns along the Fossil Walk.


Ice cream from Wall Drug

After a stop to see Bighorn Sheep at one of the last pullouts, we headed into the town of Wall and made the requisite stop at the very touristy Wall Drug for our free ice water. We also got ice cream and picked up homemade donuts for breakfast the next day. While Mike walked the dog, I put together sandwiches from the coolers. We ate in the car along the way to Mt. Rushmore.

I’d already seen Mount Rushmore, so I opted to stay near the car with Buster. We knew this would be one of the rougher stops to handle with the dog, so we just planned his needed exercise for that time. I ran him around the parking areas for 45 minutes while Mike and the girls checked out the visitor’s center.


Mount Rushmore:  The view from the parking lot

Jumping back in the car, we drove straight to Devils Tower where we had reservations at the KOA. I made the reservations because there were electric hookups and we’d be able to leave the dog in the camper while we explored the tower the next morning.


Our awesome KOA campsite!

Turns out it was a good move because our campsite (number 22) had an amazing view of both the tower itself and the nearby Spearfish red rock formations (we noticed later the National Park campground was positioned with a slightly obstructed view of the tower). I’d made BBQ beef and frozen it before the trip (it had been defrosting in the cooler), so we heated that up quickly for dinner. Buster had a long day in the car, so Mike took him for a bike/run before dark. The camp shows Close Encounters of the Third Kind every night, but we were sadly too tired to stay up.

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