Published: August 18th 2010August 17th 2010
Miles traveled today: 523
We rushed out of the hotel as fast as we could because of the big day we had ahead of us- Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore.
We arrived at the park a little before noon and I bought an eighty dollar annual pass to the National Parks while my mom, the lucky duck, bought a senior lifetime pass for ten dollars! We pulled off at the first parking area where there were several walking trails. I walked out in my flip-flops and quickly ran back to the car to put on hiking shoes to explore.
There are no words that can give justice the beauty and grandeur of the place. We took hundreds (literally) of photos because as my mom said, “it’s hard not to when the place is so photogenic.” It was interesting to look at the different stratas and think about how the place changed over time. At one point, this area was completely under water. There are layers of volcanic ash after that. In more recent times, it is in this area where the massacre of Wounded Knee occurred.
I hiked through Saddle Pass to Castle trail which went
up the side of one of the hills and then I could walk on the land between the prairies and the Bandlands. As I was climbing up, I heard thunder in the distance. Luckily, it and the rain passed us by but I definitely hustled on my two mile walk to get back to my mom and the car! While I hiked, my mom looked at the Fossil Trail where she saw the remains of the three-toe horse.
As we drove through the park we saw many deer wandering about but never got to see a big-horned sheep. Nor did we see a rattlesnake, of which we saw many warning signs for. (I heard some noises in the prairie where things were slithering in the grasses next to me but I wasn’t going to stop and investigate.) We stopped for lunch in the park and shared a Buffalo burger and some Indian fry bread with an amazing berry sauce. We were both sad to have to leave such a gorgeous place but knew that there were still more things to see in this day.
We quickly headed towards Rapid City and down to Keystone to arrive at Mount
Rushmore. We went because we were so near it felt like we had to but after spending the rest of the day in the Badlands, it was incredibly unimpressive. By the time we got there, the sculpture’s exhibit was closed so we had nothing more to do there than to look at the faces. After walking around for thirty minutes, we realized there was nothing more to see and headed back to the car to drive to Gillette, Wyoming to spend the night. This was the longest day we’ve had so far but there is still so much more to do! Tomorrow we visit Yellowstone National Park and on Wednesday, we’ll be heading north to explore Glacier National Park. I hope the next two days are just as astounding as today has been.
(Please excuse all of the pictures below. We took 300 today and they are all so beautiful. Really, we have selected only the very best for you to enjoy!)
Total miles logged: 2280
There are more photos below