One week, 545 miles, and the first time we actually FIXED problems on the RV instead of causing them. I think we’re finally getting the hang of this RVing thing!
Stop #9 Rapid City, South Dakota.
Located on the western side of South Dakota, Rapid City was well worth the taxing drive across the state through endless plains of land. With the sightseeing and activities plenteous, we decided to stay five days so we could lackadaisically explore the surrounding parks. Check out my recent post, 5 Things to do while in Rapid City.
Joe and I started our trip by visiting a staple monument in the history of the USA, Mt. Rushmore. We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed it after being told countless times how underwhelming this iconic monument is. We completely disagreed. We were awestruck by the beauty and skill that went into intricately carving the portraits of George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson into the mountain. We spent a couple of hours exploring the park from the viewing terrace, as well as the Presidential Trail. Although many visitors pull over to the side of the road and observe the monument from a distance, we would highly advise going into the park and getting as close as possible. The half-mile Presidential Trail within the park will provide the closest view of the monument (that we know of). I’m glad we did not allow others to alter our opinion, because after we both felt it was well worth the trip!
Next stop, Black Hills National Forest. We decided to shake things up and explore this one by horseback. It was Joes first time on a horse, so that was enjoyable on its own. After an hour and a half of riding, we both wobbled back to the car with our new “cowboy/cowgirl walk”. From there we entered Custer State Park to explore Needles Highway. This section of highway 87 contains 14 miles of zig-zagging “needle rock” formations. We entered tunnels that were 9ft high and 8ft wide, barely able to squeeze the truck through.
After surviving Needles Highway, we tested our luck yet again by going on a search for a bison herd within Custer State Parks’ Wildlife Loop. While fighting sundown, but eager to set eyes on a herd, we continued our drive through the park. Driving deeper and deeper into the park with just minutes of light left, we finally came across a group of Bison grazing along a side dirt road. I always imagined bison to be larger animals but was still shocked at the pure power behind these creatures.
The drive out of the park was a bit more wearing. It was pitch black, we were the only car insight, and the dirt road we pulled onto seemed to never end. I’m not the best in stressful situations, and to top it off we had no service or map to find our way back to town. After about an hour of aimlessly driving, we FINALLY made it out alive. Joe had to have a little chat with me about how I handle stressful situations lol. I am no longer allowed to panic UNLESS something is actually wrong.
One hour from Rapid City you’ll come across 244,00 acres of landscape that hold a geological spectacle called the Badlands. Created of sedimentary rock, the Badlands began forming millions of years ago. Unfortunately, the layers of red and tan geological foundations are no longer developing but dissipating. Before its too late, (just kidding, that’ll be millions of years from now) we boondocked along the Cliffside of the Badlands at a location called Nomad View Dispersed Camping (geological points are included here). The sunset here is inconceivable from each and every direction. I recommend adding this to your trip if possible! No RV? Grab a tent!
Stop #10 Moorcroft, Wyoming
Another one of those quick stopovers for us. We stayed at a small family-owned campground, Rangeland Court. We had initially planned to go to Devils Tower National Monument but instead needed a night of rest. I attempted and failed to make a homemade soup in the instant pot:/ Sorry, Joe!
Stop #11 Jackson, Wyoming
Our journey to Jackson began at 4:30 am. I’m EXTREMELY useful at this hour. I woke up, walked to the car, and plopped my butt down in the passenger seat. Thankfully, Joe was willing to pack everything up for us (I’ll do better next round).
Our first day in Jackson we set out for a 10-mile hike in Grand Teton National Park. This is one of those places you must see in person to grasp its beauty. We laced up our hiking boots and set out for Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and Cascade Canyon where we came across three MOOSE!! I really had to contain my excitement so I wouldn’t scare off these timid creatures. That right there made my entire hike!
Just a tad bit sore the next morning, we decided to have an easy day exploring Yellowstone National Park. On our ride over we passed an enormous grizzly bear just moseying through the field. My day was made before we even started our venture for the day!
Our first stop in Yellowstone was to see Old Faithful, a geyser that erupts about 20 times a day. We waited an hour to see the eruption then quickly moved on. Joe and I were both really impressed by the Grand Prismatic Spring just a few miles down the road from Old faithful. This hot spring contains a rainbow of colors that hold thermophile bacteria. Grand Prismatic flaunts vibrant blues, greens, yellows, and oranges throughout its 370 ft diameter. Joe was so excited about the vast color scheme that he got down on his belly to stick his hand in!!! I grabbed him by the neck of his shirt and yelled “YOU ARE JOKING, RIGHT?! You weren’t REALLY going to stick your hand in a boiling hot spring?!!?” He was not joking. Oh Joseph….. *insert eye roll*
Fun fact: Grand Prismatic is deeper than a 10-story building at a whopping 121 ft. deep!
SIDE NOTE: If you’re going to Yellowstone from Jackson make sure you BRING YOUR GRAND TETON PARK PASS OR buy the America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass AT the park (unless you already have a physical copy). I ordered it online through myscenicdrives thinking I could use an electronic copy of my membership card. NOPE. You must have the physical card, so we got stuck paying $88 for the annual pass, our first entrance ticket to Grand Teton which was $35 then had to pay $35 AGAIN when driving to Yellowstone since we pass through Grand Teton and did not have Grand Tetons pass with us. You save 2 hours driving through Grand Teton National park to reach Yellowstone, so no other feasible option really.
Thanks for reading this weeks post:) Check out my recent post, RV Chef Life!