Day 85 – Custer
Sunday was a day for exploring the rest of the Black Hills, so we first headed to Wind Cave National Park. After procuring our tickets for an afternoon tour of the caves, we drove across the park to enjoy the wildlife. The park connects to Custer State Park, a large park with even more wildlife (we saw a lot of buffalo, deer, and prairie dogs) and lots of great scenery. It also contains the Needles highway, a narrow, twisty scenic drive through even narrower tunnels to the Needles, which were tall rock formations at the peaks of the hills.
After the scenic drives, we looped back to Wind Cave National Park to eat a picnic lunch and then take take Fairgrounds tour through the caves. The cool temperature in the cave felt great since it was right around 100 degrees outside. After the tour, we headed back to the campground to hide in the shade before dinner and an evening of relaxing.
Day 86 – Custer to Badlands
After working in the morning, we left the Black Hills and headed to Badlands National Park. Along the way, we had to stop at the famous Wall Drug, of course. Then we continued on into the park, taking the main road through an stopping at several overlooks. Our first stop had more than just scenery, where there was young kid risking his life hanging out over the cliff while people held him by the pants!
Due to the heat, we only had one night in the Badlands KOA, which turned out to be a good thing. But we did meet an awesome couple with a mint-condition 1991 Westy, and we enjoyed talking with them for hours before we turned in for the night.
Day 87 – Badlands to Pierre
We had planned to hike in the Badlands on Tuesday, but the weather was too hot, so we headed into Pierre a day early to cool off and get in a couple full days of work in the hotel.
Day 88 & 89 – Pierre
Two full work days from the hotel and not much to do in Pierre, but we did go for a morning run on a trail that ran alongside the Missouri River.
Day 90 – Pierre to Bismarck
On Friday, we made our journey into North Dakota. We originally thought about skipping the state altogether, but we figured we’d likely never be this close again so we headed for Bismarck. We stayed just outside of town on Lake Oahe (a reservoir on the Missouri River) at General Sibley. We enjoyed a nice campsite and a huge thunderstorm before it cleared up just in time to watch a dramatic sunset over the river.
Day 91 – Bismarck
We went into to Bismarck on Saturday for a German Days celebration, but it looked pretty small and we didn’t want to pay the $5 admission, so we opted to just have lunch in a pub downtown. We walked around a bit and did a little shopping before returning to the campground (where we found that our patio rug had been stolen). That was a bummer, but we had a nice evening of dinner and Yahtzee, which Tracey won two out of three.