Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands {2016 Roadtrip #3}

Nebraska: check!
South Dakota: check!

Last Friday I picked Gwen up from school in a fully loaded car, and we were on our way to check out another National Park/Monument. This time we headed North-East to the Badlands. Originally, before some scheduling adjustments, we had planned this trip for a three-day weekend. However, leaving right after school meant we only lost a half-day. We ate lunch in the car, and arrived at bedtime.

I didn't get one of South Dakota... the road we came in on was too small!
The drive wasn't too bad. A bit long, but pretty. Nebraska and South Dakota are very... wide open. We've had that on previous trips, but they are so much greener then southern Utah or Arizona! Google did decide to send me down 20 miles of unpaved, rutted road, which was fun in my Toyota Echo... but we made it just fine.  ;-)

And the view at the end was worth it!

We got our tent set up and settled in for the night.

Saturday we headed over to Jewel Cave National Monument for some cave exploration. We had a little over an hour to kill before our tour, so we did some hiking first.

The tour itself was about an hour and a half, and it was pretty fascinating down there! Different crystals, different colors, different formations... all naturally made.

After that Gwen and I got some lunch in Custer, SD, before heading to check out the Crazy Horse Memorial. Unfortunately it was too late to walk down to the mountain, but too early to take the bus, so this was the closest we got.

Still the information center has some fascinating items, and we enjoyed the side stop.

After that it was on to Mt. Rushmore!

We checked out the viewing area, found some of our favorite state flags in the walkway, then hiked around the Presidential Trail...

We got to look up some stone noses, and enjoy how pretty the Black Hills area really is. We ate some lunch in the car on our way back to the Badlands, where we were treated to another gorgeous sunset.

Sunday we got up, packed up our campsite, and headed out to drive through the park. We hiked the Notch Trail....

The white topped posts mark our trail route...

It was a moderate-strenuous hike, and the sun was hot, but the view at the end was gorgeous!!

We headed back to the car then... 

Checked out another "scenic vista"...

Then it was time to head home, under some very wide open blue skies!

We made one quick stop for some food, in a tiny Nebraska town, then headed home, arriving at dinner time. It was a great trip, though it felt wonderful to take a shower and climb into some clean sheets that night! I'm already looking forward to the next trip.

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