Thursday, July 17, 2014

Westwards Ho! {2014}

We went on a family vacation in early June out West.  I just wanted to share what we did, where we stayed and what we liked/disliked.
We were gone for 10 days total.  I think that I'm going to highlight each day in a separate post.  We will see how this whole thing evolves...not sure yet. 

You can read more about planning, packing, leaving and where we traveled on Day 1, here.  

You can read more about our travels on Day 2, here.

Let's move on to Day 3:

South Dakota
We left our motel in Keystone early on Saturday to head back to Wall, SD to head into The Badlands.  Our plan for the day was to bike The Badlands.  It would be one of two biking stops on our route.  Actually, bike-able locations, I should say.
We entered The Badlands and turned right at the fork in the road and headed down the Sage Creek Rim Road...word of advise, don't.  Not that it was bad!  Just, you are heading in the opposite direction of the visitor center.  Plus, it's unpaved and the dirt is red.  We were trying to figure out why cars were covered in red dirt while we were driving along I90 in South Dakota.  Well, we found out that day.  

If you do happen to turn onto Sage Creek Rim Road, this is what you will see.  Again, it's pretty impressive. Especially seeing the shear drop of grasslands from the north in the Buffalo Gap National Grassland to the rocks of The Badlands.

We spent about an hour joke.  In this one spot, just marveling over it all.

We headed back to the main loop and to the visitor center. 

I, was on a mission.  I needed to get my National Parks Passport stamped and I needed to purchase a stamp for it.  

We walked though the little museum at the visitor center and then ate lunch outside on the grassy area.  This was the view behind us as we ate. 

While we were there they were doing construction around the visitor center.  There are picnic spaces, but they were blocked with construction gating.  There is also a really neat resturant right next to the visitor center.  I think that it would have been neat to have dinner there and see a sunset.

After lunch we got our bikes ready.  There was a storm coming in and we needed to beat the rain.  It was going to be a short ride of 10 miles (it turned out to be 8 miles in the end).

The cool thing about biking The Badlands was being able to see everything up close.  It's one thing to drive your car through the area, it's a whole other thing to bike right up against it.  It was really cool.  I would suggest it as an option for anyone who is up for it.  
We biked from the visitor center back northwest along The Badlands Loop Road to Norbeck Pass.  On the way back to the visitor center we stopped at the Saddle Pass Trail where the boys and Dave hiked and climbed while Will and I hung out with the bikes (Will was sleeping).

On our way back to Wall we saw a bunch of cars pulled to the side of the road and slowed down to see what was going on. 
*Side note - if cars are stopped, you should stop too.  Chances are, there is something pretty cool happening that may require a camera to capture*

This is what was happening:

We then headed back into Wall and stopped, again, at Wall Drug.  It really is that cool of a place. 

On our way back into Keystone we stopped in Rapid City for dinner.  Like I mentioned in Day 2's post, Keystone is a tourist trap, nothing bad, that's just what it is. 

We then headed back to the motel for a short stop before heading back out to go to the night viewing at Mt. Rushmore.

It was a little foggy when we arrived, but at this point it was either go and chance seeing something or not go at all.  I wanted to get some photos of the monument at night and to be honest, this was my only chance.  So, we headed in and it did clear up!  

So, that was our Day 3 of our trip out West. 
Entrance Fees - The Badlands $15 for 7 days; Mt. Rushmore $11 (parking) for the year. 


  1. My kids and I went on a road trip a couple years ago and spent a few nights in South Dakota. Loved it! It must have been incredible to bike through the Badlands!

    1. It was quite amazing! We loved it so much that we are planning a trip back so we can spend more than a few hours there.


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