Well, here it is- the final recap of our trip! I seriously cannot believe that we only got back a week ago. It feels like it was so long ago (but also kinda feels like we just got back..).
After leaving our hotel in Eastern South Dakota (I got in a 5.3 mile run by 6:30am thanks to the treadmill at the gym!), we decided to make a drive through the badlands (since we had the National Parks pass anyways) and then either decide to head home from there or go see Mt. Rushmore as well. I was totally gung-ho to see Mt. Rushmore (we were literally 30 MILES away from it and it was July 4th and all...), so you can probably guess which way we decided to drive through to get home ;)
We ended up getting to the Badlands super early before 8am (thanks to the hour time change that we hit an hour after we left our hotel AGAIN...*eye roll*), which really was perfect timing. It was just starting to get hot there and the crowds weren't too terrible yet. I'd HIGHLY recommend trying to see the park either in the off-season or getting up early to see it before the heat/crowds get too crazy. We did the same for Yellowstone and it was the only way I'd ever recommend seeing the park- there's something so magical about the early mornings if you can swing it.
Dog's aren't allowed on any of the trails (probably a good thing because there are A LOT of rattlesnake signs and the two young boys that I was talking to said that they actually had an encounter with one the day before (their mom corroborated their story)). You are, however, welcome to travel on a lot of the voodoos, which is really cool! We didn't see much wildlife through the park, until we got ready to exit it and super happy I had my eagle-eye on!
The Badlands and Mt. Rushmore are also really close (about an hour or so), so I HIGHLY recommend planning to see both attractions if you're in the area.
We didn't actually go into the park for Mt. Rushmore (which is fine because there was a giant line of traffic), but honestly we still got the most amazing view/photos of it (which is all I really wanted).
Mt. Rushmore is only about 7.5 hours away from Steamboat, so isn't too far away for us to visit again (which I definitely want to do). Afterwards, we drove through parts of Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park. Unfortunately, the Wind Cave Nat'l Park was SO busy and dogs weren't allowed, so we just drove through it and couldn't get out and check out the caves (next time!).
We arrived back in Steamboat a little after 8pm and it was a really long day (we drove for over 15 hours total...), but so worth-it (I think) to see all that we got to see! South Dakota is actually really pretty and has some pretty amazing things- we will be back!
Also I couldn't resist showing this photo that I took from my Canon of Stella curled up on the Ferry we took in Canada...how cute is she?!?