Hello from South Dakota! James and I left at 6 a.m. from my parents’ house for the first day of our two-week road trip to the west. We’ve been planning this trip for two years because we originally planned to come last year, but delayed the trip to focus on buying our house and moving. So, it’s hard to believe we are finally here!
The drive from Illinois was supposed to be 14 hours, but we ended up taking an unexpected detour that made our trip a bit longer, but so much better.
We decided to stop at Badlands National Park along the way because neither of us had been before. Much of our road trip is centered around visiting as many National Parks as possible, so we figured this was the perfect way to breakup the drive and officially kick off our vacation.
We purchased an annual National Parks pass at the gate for $80. It’s good for one year and gets you into any National Park, which is a real bargain if you visit more than one in a year. And, the money goes back to helping preserve the parks.
We were absolutely blown away by the Badlands. The combination of stunning rock formations and lush prairie made us turn off at several scenic outlooks. And, after being in the car driving through nonstop rain for hours, we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and go for a couple of shorter hikes along the way.
I’ve only really spent time in Colorado when I’ve visited the west before, so the Badlands gave me a totally different perspective of the landscape. We stood there in awe of nature’s ability to shape the land into such unique formations.
As we weaved our way through the park we came across mountain rams, bison and hundreds of prairie dogs. We only spent about 1.5 hours at the Badlands because we still had a couple of hours on the road before reaching our final destination. We barely scratched the surface of what the park had to offer. But, I’m so glad we stopped. Road trips are just as much about the detours as the destinations.
I’m excited to spend more time exploring the region and catching up with the many friends who’ve migrated this way over the years. We’ll be spending time in South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado over the next two weeks, so if you have any recommendations for great hikes, detours or eats, send them my way!