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Trip Report: Badlands, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons

Trip Report: Badlands, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons

Old Aug 2nd, 2005, 03:45 PM
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Trip Report: Badlands, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons

We're back from our 3 week 2 day trip to the Badlands, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Tetons National Park/Jackson Hole, WY.

We had a fabulous time and driving allowed us to see so much of the country. My trip report follows; I apologize in advance for its length.

We arrived in Murdo, SD, which is 1 hr. from Wall Drug and about the same distance from Badlands NP, on June 30 and spent the night right off the interstate at the Super 8 Motel. Super nice and accomodating people. Rooms were nice and very clean and there was a computer with internet access in the lobby. We ate dinner at the Rusty Spur, which had been open for only a week and will improve with time, I think.

We left early on the 1st for Wall Drug via I-90. Had their breakfast buffet and looked at everything and headed for the Badlands via the Badlands Loop road. Right after you pass the entrance gate, there is a bumpy dirt road that turns off to the left. Be sure to take this as the and you will see many prairie dogs, bison, antelope and much beautiful scenery.

We stopped many times on our way to Cedar Pass Lodge to hike and climb. Our room wasn't ready so we continued on past the Lodge and did more walking and climbing. We had seen everything we wanted to see by 3:00 PM and the Lodge graciously let us cancel our room, so we drove on to Keystone, SD where we already had reservations for the next evening.

WE stayed two nights at the Roosevelt Inn, about 1 mile (or less) from Mount Rushmore. We really liked it here. It is not a chain and the owners run it. Very clean and the people make a real effort to be helpful and nice. There is a new miniture golf place across the road and an alpine slide almost adjacent to the Roosevelt Inn. My son and I road the slide but it is expensive for the one, short ride you get. The hotel serves a continental breakfast, but we ate at the Mine Cafe. Good, inexpensive breakfast--absolutely huge and delicious--cinnamon buns.

We enjoyed our meals at Ruby's Restaurant both nights.

We were at Mt. Rushmore by 8:10 AM on July 2. What an awesome sight! I definitely recommend going early as we avoided the crowds, which were really rolling in by the time we left--of course we were there on the fourth-of-July weekend so it may have been more crowded than usual. We walked the Presidents' Trail and also visted the Sculptor's Studio. Both were worth the time and effort. We also watched the short movie that is shown in the visitor center before we walked the trail. The movie was very good and informative.

After leaving Mt. Rushmore, we drove to Hot Springs, SD to see the Mammoth Site via Custer State Park and the Needles Highway. You must drive this highway. It is unbelievable. We stopped, and my son (almost 12) and I climbed on the huge rock formations. We ate lunch lakeside at Belle Spring Lodge in the park--so beautiful and peaceful. I must say that that part of South Dakota has THE best chocolate ice cream I have ever eaten!!!

We all really liked the mammoth site. The number and size of the bones is amazing. The guided tour does not take a very long time and it is so interesting. If you call ahead and make reservations, your children may be able to dig.

We then drove back up to Keystone via Iron Mountain Hwy. Great road and believe it or not, a tractor trailer took a wrong turn, got on the road and got stuck! You definitely don't want to take RVs on either road.

The next morning, we drove through Deadwood, Lead and Spearfish Canyon on our way to Devils Tower NM. It was extremely crowded and we could not find a parking place so, after driving as closely as possible, we left and drove on to Sheridan, WY.

We stayed in the Super 8 in Sheridan. Although the staff was nice, I would not stay there again. I would recommend that you stay 2 exits before you get to the Super 8 exit. There are no restaurants nearby except for a Pizza Hut and I did not like the room. It needed to be updated.

From Sheridan, we took the Ranchester/Dayton exit and drove route 14 and 14A through the Big Horn Mountains. This was so much better than drivng the interstate. The Big Horns are beautiful. We stopped at the visitor center on the top and also stopped at the Medicine Wheel site where we drove up a rather steep dirt road to a parking area that is staffed by a national park ranger. There are bathrooms available and we then walked to the Medicine Wheel Site--about 1 1/2 miles if I remember correctly. It definitely is well worth the walk. There are benches along the way. The elevation is right high and it was very windy and pretty cold. I was glad that I had a jacket with a hood. The only sign before the turn-off says something like "scenic view" ahead but it definitely doesn't say Medicine Wheel. When you see it, be ready to turn off to the left. We also saw two female moose on the drive over the mountains.

We stopped on the night of the 4th at the Holiday Inn in Bozeman, MT. Great place--right off the interstate, very clean, nice pool and exercise room. Would definitely stay here again. Easy access off the interstate and across the street from Wal Mart. We watched the fireworks from the parking lot.

Drove, via routes 86,89, 87, to Great Falls, MT where we visited the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Very nice--I recommend this. We listend to a short presentation and watched a short video dealing with Lewis & Clark reaching Great Falls. Both were interesting and well-done. Ate at the Prospector because it was the only place we could find anywhere near the Center. So-so. I wouldn't go there again if I could find another place.

Although we had planned to spend the night in GF, we were ahead of schedule, so we drove on to East Glacier Park and stayed at the Mountain Pine MOtel. When we drove up I thought, "Oh, know, I can't stay here." It is IN the pines and is rustic-looking. However, upon entering, I was pleasantly suprised. The same people have owned it for 58 years and they make a real effort to make it nice and to keep it clean. I was very pleased and definitely would stay there again. We walked to the Thimbleberry Restaurant for both dinner and breakfast. The Indian Fry Bread is scrumptious as was the rest of our meal. It is very small, so be sure to arrive early for a table.

I'll continue later.

lyntom is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2005, 03:48 PM
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I'm sorry for the misspelled words! I was tired of typing and didn't take the time to proof read. I'll do better next time.

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Old Aug 2nd, 2005, 03:52 PM
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Enjoying your trip report -- looking forward to the next installment.
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