This is the recap for Day 2 of our Chicagoland to Seattle road trip extravaganza. Find the whole series from start to end here.
Day 2 was the ENTIRE reason our family took this road trip. The day that Adam would finally feast his eyes on Mt. Rushmore. You think I’m kidding, but ever since we moved to the Midwest Adam was obsessed with Mt. Rushmore. He wanted it, he needed it, he begged the family to take a vacation to see it. Driving to Seattle was finally his chance to cash in on the Mt. Rushmore glory. I was so confused, but I had agreed to ensure that we planned the trip so that we could all gaze at this mountain and wonder.
First stop on our day of South Dakota tourism was to pop over to Sioux Falls near our hotel. It was drizzling, freezing really, but DAMN IT WE SAW IT! And after being in the midwest for the last four years where there’s no elevation change possible to create something as simple as a waterfall, seeing one in South Dakota showed us we were finally on our way back west. The land of elevation change!
So, check the Sioux Falls off the list. Only three more “SD must-sees” to go!
Nellie was less pleased with the falls as we were.
Oly greatly appreciated being in the car for day two. Sorry dog for nearly freezing you to death yesterday!
After a whole lot of flatness and dull extremely straight freeway driving (no seriously, we’re talking hours of not a single curve in the road) we approached the Badlands National Park Scenic Loop! Since we weren’t going to be stopping in the park we took a 40 mile detour drive that allows you to drive through the park, stop at a variety of trails and vistas and see all the interesting formations that make up the Badlands. I highly recommend you add this loop to your day if you’re driving through. The Badlands are such an odd feature to appear all of the sudden in the middle of this flat nothingness that is SD. We took some fun walks, got out at some cool vistas, saw prairie dogs (!!!!!!!!!) and some big horned sheep. It was a really cool place.
One of the things too that is so interesting about South Dakota is that you’re on this long, fast, straight stretch of road for hours at a time with hardly anything to look at but you’re constantly being attacked by billboards. And not one or two billboards for a weird attraction, we’re talking hundreds of billboards for a single attraction for miles and miles and miles.
There was Wall Drug which looked like the most odd and amazing place in the whole world, the Dances with Wolves 1800 western town, a dinosaur museum, and reptile world. Sadly, we made it to none of these oh-so-interesting SD attractions, but oh boy did we see ALL the billboards for them! South Dakota totally feels like the kind of place that would be a blast to drive through again with kids who were like 8 and 10 and would just get a kick out of these weird roadside attractions.
So nearing the end of the day we were finally getting close to Adam’s whole mission. His reason for this drive. The one thing he’d been thinking of for the last two months while we packed. Mt. Rushmore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You guys, I have to admit, IT’S SO COOL! It’s up in these beautiful mountains, with this cute little town that I am sure is just overflowing with tourists in the summer. But since we were there in late March it was empty, drizzling, and amazing to see. I totally suggest stopping here, or even making a trip of it. It’s really an amazing sight to see, and the National Park has done a great job of setting up the area around the monument. Such a crazy piece of our country to see!
So by this point our “short day” had turned into a seriously long ass day, but we’d seen the Sioux Falls, Badlands National Park and Mt. Rushmore and we were so close to our final checklist, Crazy Horse Monument.
I have to say, seeing Mt. Rushmore and then going over to Crazy Horse is seriously disappointing. It’s hardly finished, there’s just a bit of a face in a mountain far, far, far away and a little museum. You can’t get up close to the mountain in the off season, and it was overall really underwhelming.
You can’t even tell, but his face is behind us there in the rock. That’s how little is done (and they’ve been working on this since the 70’s or something) and how far away it is!
Finally, after starting at 9am and ending the day around 7:30pm our “short day” was done. We got dinner in the hotel and Nellie was a trooper about being up yet again well past her bedtime. We finished up and put her butt to bed and got to work watching some comedy specials on Netflix. We decided that we simply couldn’t do another long day the next day and we’d need an actual short day to rest our weary bones.
We called it a night with Billings, MT on our mind. Day three, here we come.