This day was probably the longest, most activity-filled day Sam, Halie and I had in the entire road trip. We woke up in a motel room in Wall, South Dakota. The night before we spent 12 hours driving (each of us drove 4 hours) from our last stop in Chicago. After a few cups of motel coffee, we were on our way.
Our first stop was Badlands National Park, just 15 minutes south of Wall. The Badlands Loop Road connected all the major overlooks in the Park. I was amazed to see all the rock formations spreading through several acres at the overlook viewpoints. Badlands is also home to many rattlesnakes. Although we heard plenty of rattlers in the bushes we were lucky enough not to encounter any.
At one viewpoint Sam was talking to tourist couple and they recommended we visit Custer State Park. They said it was filled with wildlife and it’s definitely worth visiting while we were in the area. Since Custer State Park was on our way to our next planned stop (Mount Rushmore), we decided to go for it.
At Custer’s newly built Visitor Center, there was an exhibit on wild bison in the park. Totally stoked to find some bison, we set off and drove on Wildlife Loop Road. It wasn’t long until we saw our first bison. We spotted more and more as we continued driving. It was incredible do see these creatures! The bison seemed so peaceful and friendly, but we were warned not to go near them as they will attack!
Along the road there was a donkey estate, where donkeys roamed near the cars and were fed by visitors. Luckily we had an old bag of carrots to feed the hungry bunch. Some donkeys weren’t as friendly, but most were and 'all up in yo' face' when they see you have food. Feeding these donkeys was one of my highlights of the day.
After Wildlife Loop Road, we drove up to Mount Rushmore via Iron Mountain Road. It was a series of tight loops and tunnels on that road which made me slightly nervous while driving. There were a few points when the road spiraled down in a loop! Near the end of the route, Mount Rushmore was in sight.
We spent a half hour or so at Mount Rushmore and then made our way 2 hours west to Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. We were amazed on how prominent Devils Tower was around the relatively flat area.
It was getting dark by the time we left Devils Tower. We drove another 5+ hours west across Wyoming to get to our Airbnb for the night, arriving at 3am. A super long day indeed, but well worth the experiences.