We just can’t get enough of the badlands apparently. After visiting the North Dakota badlands, we had to check out the South Dakota badlands.
We first visited the Black Hills National Forest. Like any American tourist, I wanted to see Mount Rushmore. Part of me suspected it may be a little overrated, but I can assure you that IT IS NOT. IT WAS SO COOL AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF LOOKING AT IT. First of all, as you are just driving through the hills casually looking out the window. Then all of a sudden, four president face carvings appear through an opening of trees. It is a delightful surprise. You quickly point it out to the driver, but they have already missed it (Sorry, Matt). Eventually, we did make it to the monument and awed at the creation. I found out that it was created to draw more tourist to South Dakota and to this day, it is one of the most popular sites in America.
We also saw the Crazy Horse monument which is still under construction. Once completed, it will be the largest sculpture in the world! To quote Matt upon seeing it, “Wow, that’s crazy….no pun intended.” It really is a remarkable memorial.
We also did a hike to Black Elk Peak where we met our new friend Blake and his dog Booker. Matt and I were confused at a fork in the trail and Blake walked up behind us with a map. He kindly directed us the correct way and we began chatting with him. Blake is also traveling in an RV like us except he has a dog and a job (he works remotely from his RV). He invited us to boondock* at a spot at the badlands of South Dakota. The campsite was amazing! We ended up staying there for four nights. We are forever grateful for Blake who hooked us up big time.
We drove through the badlands and did two hikes. The Notch Trail and Medicine Root Trail which had spectacular rock formations. The biggest difference between ND and SD badlands is that ND has the Missouri river flowing through it. The river gives the ND badlands more vegetation and wildlife. The SD badlands have more of a desert vibe. This is purely from my observation and zero research has been done to corroborate it so I may be wrong. But I’d bet an ice cream sandwich that I’m right.
We finally had to say goodbye to our new friend and to our epic campsite in order to make the long trek up to Glacier National Park. We took a picture and parted ways in hopes we meet each other again in the near future.
(*boondocking means camping for free without any electrical or water hookups. Meaning we used our generators for power and we filled up our fresh water tank prior to getting to the spot. Our water tank can hold about 40 gallons of water)