Road Trip to South Dakota and Nebraska in numbers

  • A little over 2300 kilometers (1435 miles), around 330 km per day.  This was a decent amount of driving for us without being too exhausting.
  • 2 new states. Only 11 left!
  • 6 National Park Service sites: 2 national parks, 1 national monument, 1 national memorial and 2 national historic sites. All of them worth visiting and some completely mindblowing. How can any government agency be this fantastic?
  • 2 nights in a tent, first one on a campground, the second in the middle of nowhere far from any trails. The latter night was more noisy thanks to the howling coyotes and chirping grasshoppers.
  • 13 liters of water in our backpacks, a couple liters too much. Better safe than sorry. A faint cloud cover cooled the day, which the park ranger told us was actually smoke from the wild fires in Canada.
  • 2 nights in motels that looked pretty run down from outside but surprised us positively. In the other motel, I think we were the only guests who didn’t sport tattoos.
  • Countless deer, bison, prairie dogs and big horn sheep. I didn’t think I’d ever end up saying of animals spotted by the road: “Let’s not bother to stop if it’s only bison.”
  • 4 long hour caving. Apparently a fear of tight places and a 25cm high slit that we had to crawl through are in fact compatible.
  • Around 100 kilometers of Oregon Trail. 19th century pioneers took four days to walk their wagons through this stretch of the route; for us, it took an hour.
  • 728 photos which will take time going through. Here’s a couple tasters:
Road in Wyoming
When sun set the first night, we were still on the road in Wyoming.
Custer State Park - Cathedral Needles
Custer State Park’s Needles Highway in South Dakota had a hiking trail lead to these views.
Baby Chipmunk
Baby chipmunks were running around the parking lots of scenic viewpoints.
Custer, South Dakota
Custer, South Dakota
Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota
The presidents aren’t the only ones who’ve had their faces carved on mountains in South Dakota. This memorial for Lakota chief Crazy Horse has been in the making for already 67 years.
Hard rain in a car
On Sunday evening, it poured so hard we turned our car’s hazard flashers on while driving veeerryy slowly along winding mountain roads. Cooking at the campground in Badlands would be out of the question in this kind of weather, so we stopped for dinner at Rapid City and contemplated on staying the night in a motel. Finally the rain stopped close to midnight so we pitched our tent up in pitch black darkness…
Sunrise at Badlands
…and woke up to a sunrise at the Badlands. Totally worth it.

Iiro at Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Thistle at Badlands National Park

Walking at Badlands National Park

Big Horn Sheep at Badlands National Park praerie
Big horn sheep were among the most interesting wildlife in Badlands National Park

Backpacking at Badlands National Park

Camping at Badlands National Park
Found the perfect camping spot at Badlands National Park’s Deer Haven after a little climb and trek across the prairie.
Wall Food Center
The only grocery store in the town of Wall: “Food Center” – “Cold Bud” – “Cold Bud Lt” – “We have Bison Meat”
Inside Delta-01 Command Center, Minuteman Missile
Besides Badlands, the prairie of South Dakota has also some old Minuteman nuclear missile silos. We got to visit the decommissioned command center.
B-1B bomber at South Dakota Air & Space Museum
We also stopped to check out the airplanes at South Dakota Air & Space Museum, and… well, I’ve seen more impressive collections. Too bad we didn’t have more time, though, because they offered tours of the nearby Air Force Base, which would have been interesting.

Nebraska - the good life

Scotts Bluff National Monument with an Oregon trail wagon
“Oregon Trail” was one of my favorite computer games in the 90s, so I was thrilled to follow the real Oregon Trail in Nebraska.

Now a relaxing weekend at home before getting back to normal routines on Monday.