I made us hit the road by 7am so we could attempt to squeeze in Rushmore, Deadwood, and Devil's Tower. I was sad we had basically driven the badlands in the dark of night so we didn't get to see that.
Really, I can't recommend this area enough: it is made for visiting. There are small towns and great educational and entertainment stops and really nice wilderness. I really was regretting having no time (or proper gear) to hike around and see more of it.
We got a really helpful map from the hotel of the Black Hills which included all our planned stops. This neat bridge and the tunnel above is both on Highway 16.
And from Highway 244 - Rushmore!
Here is a little secret to getting Rushmore all to yourself because as I hear it, the crowds are normally pretty awful: go off season, before 8am, and let it be 3 degrees outside. You have no idea the self-talk it took to get me out of the car.
I didn't really have time to stop and read these pillars but it appears to be each state's information like when incorporated, etc. And then the state flag.
Look at Rushmore...oblivious to the cold.
Notice how my sister is trying to look all serene and happy when really; we are in agony.
I may have taken the exit shot of the flags while running. :) 3 degrees feels awful. I do regret how rushed we were though. I think that was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see that monument complete on our own like that.
So we left Rushmore and continued along Highway 385 into Deadwood but that was a disappointment. The biggest problem with the snow and the cold and probably also that it was off season and too early in the morning. We did see a sign for Buffalo Bill's grave site and I know there are tours but it will have to be another time.
It was time to get into Wyoming. We actually crossed Wyoming on Highway 34/24 - this was a loop for the Devil's Tower.
Apparently this area of Wyoming raises turkeys the way some states raise cattle. There were a lot of dead ones on the highway as well which was unfortunate. They are sort of like free range turkeys I suppose.
Similar to Rushmore, photos really don't capture Devil's Tower. It was about 20 degrees for this stop, and once again, we were entirely alone. It was really annoying not to be remotely the correct conditions or time to take the 1.5 mile trail around it. There is other trails in the area as well. But it was very icy and cold.
Driving back down from the Tower I spotted this little hill with a great backdrop so I sat in the heated car and sent my sister up it. I believe in that photo you can see she can no longer feel her hands.
As it turns out, my little hillside was also rather muddy and slick.
Beautiful reds in the hills in this area. Makes for a very red mud as my sister found out.
We left Devil's Tower thinking we were home free for stops now and could race on for Montana with a plan to stay in Missoula only as we were getting on the highway we spotted a small dog against a fence of nothingness and it spotted us. Then it ran for the car. So I opened the driver-side door and the darn thing rolled over and put its legs up. Yes. It should come as no surprise that this was a miniature Australian Shepherd.
I picked it up and shut the door. No cell service. So we had to turn back to this little post office that very well knew little Koda. Turns out Koda is not always so good about staying at his home. I drove him around the corner to his dwelling which is also on the side of the highway.
Then we speed off to Montana...