Badlands National Park to Keystone, SD

Day 5 has been the most epic of days so far. My eyes opened at 4:45 am to see the cotton candy sunrise. I grabbed the tripod and my bag and set out on foot - 

- still in my silkies and T-shirt mind you. (Silkies are tiny running shorts that most people would consider underwear.) I watched dear grazing in the cool morning. I followed their tiny path through the grassy area to snap a few shots. As I turned to find another spot, a full rainbow caught my eye.  Just then raindrops started splattering. I grabbed a few more shots while trying to head back to camp. I'd left mom sleeping in the tent without the rain fly. We'd removed it the night before because it was just unbearably hot. By the time I got back to our site, I found mom half awake in her pajamas sitting in the front seat of the car with all of our gear in the backseat.

The drizzle stopped shortly and I properly packed up out belongings well before 6:30 am. We headed towards Wall on the Badlands loop and I will say - early morning is the way to see Badlands. We saw amazing wildlife, which ended up being the case for the entire day. 


We stopped at Wall Drug for breakfast and some 5 cent coffee. Trust me when I say that it tastes like 5 cent coffee. Wall Drug reminds me of South of the Border - a giant tourist trap -complete with the recurring billboards. (If you've ever driven down I-95 between North Carolina and South Carolina, you know what I'm talking about.) 


We set out from the Wildlife Center in hopes of spotting more wildlife with big props to Ranger Sue, her pink Sharpie marker, and the awesome map she created. Burros, deer, antelope, and prairie dogs were spotted, but no bison. Shortly after turning towards Wind Cave National Park, the bison herd was so close, I could have reached out and touched them. Surreal. We arrived at Wind Cave to find out that the tours were sold out and we'd have to come back tomorrow. We scored some really cool tshirts. Bigger bonus, we saw bison.

Next stops: Crazy Horse Memorial & Museum and Mount Rushmore. Mom has deemed all Subarus are "sister cars" that she pronounces "sistah cah". She waves like a neighbor trying to flag you down every time she sees one. 


We stayed in Keystone for the evening so we could head back to Wind Cave the next morning for a tour.

  • Day 5 Stats:  202 miles, 0 states, 3 NPS stops.
  • Running Stats: 1,471 miles, 6 states, 7 NPS stops.