Sept 13-21: Wyoming & South Dakota

After a fascinating few days exploring Yellowstone, it was time to make our way to the next national park. The fastest way to Grand Teton NP was straight through Yellowstone. The drive was particularly fun as the buffalo were out and the dogs got to check them out, up close.

Our drive was only about an hour and a half, but boy was it spectacular. Especially as we exited the park and the Teton Mountains came into view.

We found our spot at Colter Bay Campground on Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park and got all set up.

Eager to stretch our legs on this beautiful day, we put on our hiking shoes and walked over to the visitor’s center, which just happened to be very close, and then took an amazing stroll around the shore of Jackson Lake.

Our route back to the campsite took us through a fairly wooded area and it was loaded with things we had never seen the likes of before. The display and sheer quantity of mushrooms was like stepping into an art gallery. The path was saturated with them, all sorts of colors, sizes and shapes. They were glorious to look at, but not knowing anything about them, we did not take any souvenirs.

We had one full day at Grand Teton National Park and we wanted to make the most of it. Driving through the park, the views of these massive, jagged, rock formations was breathtaking. More than 8 of the peaks stand over 12,000 ft with one that is 13,775 ft. We especially loved the views from the Jenny Lake area.

Later that day we took a hike up the hill from our campground, to get a little different perspective. Our view of the mountains was nice, but the real enjoyment came from seeing so many animals in the wild that day.

Our day ended with a beautiful sunset over the water, behind the mountains.

We spent the next two days driving through Wyoming. The terrain continued to change and impress us with each passing mile. We saw lots of pronghorn antelope along the way.

We are driving along in the Black Hills of Wyoming looking at simple country side and then out of nowhere appears this crazy rock structure. The only one of its kind. It is no wonder that over 20 Native American Tribes consider it a sacred place.

We had an awesome RV spot at the Black Hills KOA, right at the entrance of Devils Tower National Monument. It was the first National Monument in the country, declared so in 1906 by President Roosevelt. In 1977, the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind was filmed on the spot where the KOA is today, so of course we had to watch the movie.

Devils Tower stands 867 feet tall and is a little over a mile around at its base. It is the largest example of columnar jointing in the world. It was a glorious day for an easy walk around the bottom of the tower.

It is a very popular place for rock climbers. We enjoyed watching them make their way up and down.

We continued our travels and made our way to another new state, South Dakota. The next few days would be spent at Mount Rushmore KOA.

Excited to see Mount Rushmore National Memorial, we headed out early to beat any crowds. Now that schools are back in session, this is not really an issue anymore. Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln completed the sculpture in 1941. It took 14 years.

It was a magnificent day, so we decided to take a less direct path back to the KOA. Highway 16A provided a very enchanting drive as we squeezed through three rock tunnels, took in the beautiful fall foliage on the single lane road and passed under artistically created log bridges.

We continued down the road and the views were unceasing as we entered Needles Scenic Highway. Not knowing what to expect, we were thrilled with each turn we took. You know you are driving through something really special.

A little further down the road we found a much softer grouping of rocks, surrounded by water. Custer State Park was also very stunning. All of these amazing sights were within an hour loop of the campground. It was a lovely area. This lake and rocks were in the second National Treasure movie.

Our next outing took us right down the road to Crazy Horse Memorial. There is a long story to this place. First conceptualized in 1939, this project is still a work in progress and looks about the same as it did when Ashley saw it in 1993. All funding has been from admission tickets and donations because the creator was too proud to take the $10 million offered from the federal government on multiple occasions to get the project finished.

A great day of discovery was finished out with a cocktail and a game of cribbage.

Time to continue our travels, from here we move south, running from the cold. Next stop puts us in Colorado.

2 thoughts on “Sept 13-21: Wyoming & South Dakota”

  1. it’s great that you got to see the Tetons! Also, devils rock monument. Bob and I just rewatch close encounters of the third kind again recently. Love that movie! Safe travels and stay warm, love, Mark and Bob

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