The Dakotas: Sioux Falls, Badlands, Wind Cave NP, Crazy Horse, Mt Rushmore, TR NP and More!

We were sad to leave Minnesota after almost three weeks of relaxation at Alison’s family cabin in lake country and our Boundary Waters Canoe Area adventure. However, we were also excited to start the journey our west and see some more national parks!

Our journey took us through South and North Dakota en route to Glacier National Park in Montana. Alison’s uncle (Uncle Jon) mentioned that it would be worth visiting Medora, North Dakota as it is home to some amazing badlands and the Teddy Roosevelt National Park. We followed his advice and despite cold weather and driving rain, had a good time up there!

After a couple days we made it to a campsite just outside the eastern boundary of Glacier National Park. Along the way we camped at Wind Cave National Park and stayed in a couple motels.

We saw a lot of cool stuff. South Dakota in particular is full of neat (and bizarre!) things to see: quaint little towns, Sioux Falls, the Corn Palace, Wall Drug (a massive store, cafe, historical center), Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, National Grasslands (the prairie!), and all kinds of other oddities off the I-90.

FYI – we didn’t explore much else in western North Dakota….from what people told me it, the oil boom in the area has really changed it and it’s a gritty and not-so-nice place to travel around. In fact, some of the small towns in Western North Dakota have some of the highest rents in the country. Every available square foot is being occupied by oil industry workers. We saw a ton of little oil wells dotting the country-side as we drove along.

Lots of open space on the drive through South Dakota
Lots of open space on the drive through South Dakota
Sioux Falls, SD
Sioux Falls, SD

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The Corn Palace!
The Corn Palace!
Yes, the entire facade and murals are made out of corn cobs...they are redone every year.
Yes, the entire facade and murals are made out of corn cobs…they are redone every year.
Wall Drug, a massive gift shop, store, cafe and more....lots of historical photos of the area (and Native American history/stories). Worth visiting.
Wall Drug, a massive gift shop, store, cafe and more….lots of historical photos of the area (and Native American history/stories). Worth visiting.
In Wall Drug...these photos tell stories of early settlers and struggles with Native people in the 1800s.
In Wall Drug…these photos tell stories of early settlers and struggles with Native people in the 1800s.

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Cool little western town...Wall, SD.
Cool little western town…Wall, SD.
Alison cooking up some coffee outside of Motel 6 using our camping stove...deluxe!
Alison cooking up some coffee outside of Motel 6 using our camping stove…deluxe!

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Grasslands! South Dakota has some of the largest stretches of protected National Grasslands in the country....lots of animals graze here (some wild, some privately owned)
Grasslands! South Dakota has some of the largest stretches of protected National Grasslands in the country….lots of animals graze here (some wild, some privately owned)

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Spike has a first class seat in the back of the Subaru
Spike has a first class seat in the back of the Subaru
Wind Cave National Park....we didn't know this place existed until we got into South Dakota....it is the 6th largest cave in the world and the most complex cave in the world. It has over 150 miles of caves in a single square mile!
Wind Cave National Park….we didn’t know this place existed until we got into South Dakota….it is the 6th largest cave in the world and the most complex cave in the world. It has over 150 miles of caves in a single square mile!

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Spike relaxing in the Wind Cave campground.
Spike relaxing in the Wind Cave campground.
Our campsite at Wind Cave National Park
Our campsite at Wind Cave National Park
Prairie dog!
Prairie dog!
Prairie dog town! Can you spot them?
Prairie dog town! Can you spot them?
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Pronghorn antelope….no horns on this one, a female.

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Crazy Horse is unreal! It is only partially complete and will take decades to finish...but still awesome to see. The size totally makes Mt Rushmore look small.
Crazy Horse is unreal! It is only partially complete and will take decades to finish…but still awesome to see. The size totally makes Mt Rushmore look small.
What the complete Crazy Horse sculpture will look like
What the complete Crazy Horse sculpture will look like

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TR National Park….it is full of badlands, that look very different than those of South Dakota….we drove the 40 mile scenic loop through the park, but due to bad weather (cold and raining) we didn’t hike or do much else. In nice weather, this park would be a nice place to camp and hike.
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Wild bison in TR National Park

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