We based our operations in Rapid City, South Dakota at the Shadows of Rushmore RV Park, $10/night with Coast to Coast. It was a nice resort and convenient to everything. While there we visited Mount Rushmore, where we met Nick Clifford, the last surviving sculptor of the monument.I bought his book and he autographed it. It was a nice visit and I understand that he recently celebrated his 98th birthday. We also visited Custer State Park, which I enjoyed enough that we went for a second day. The Badlands was also beautiful and breathtaking. Deadwood and Lead were also interesting places with so much western history. All in all this was a wonderful stop but it was cut short as I had to come home due to a family emergency on the 15th. More about that later.
I do recommend visiting this area. South Dakota is a beautiful state and the people are very friendly and inviting. There is a lot to see here. This blog is mostly pictures with descriptions. Please enjoy.
I flew out of Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota at 5 AM on June 15, headed to Raleigh Durham Airport (RDU) in North Carolina. The Rapid City Airport had two runways and seven gates. I flew a Delta small jet, capacity 50 people, to Minneapolis. I arrived in RDU around 8:30 PM and was so glad to see my son waiting for me. My mother’s condition had worsened so I had to cut my trip short. Travel is on hold for me for a bit and while it is, I’m going to blog about my family’s journey with Alzheimer Disease. I will be brutally honest, sharing insights, and I hope it helps someone. Please stay tuned.
Day five was an errand day in Idaho Falls (Ammon), Idaho. I was to get two new tires put on the truck while Ray went to his eye appointment. We had a slow leak in one of the front tires and we were also having that checked. It simply couldn’t be a patched tire. We had cracked a rim on our off-road adventures. So two new tires and a new rim later, we were back on the road. $$$$$ to “Cap the stack,” as my mother says, they didn’t have any chrome rims to fit so we ended up with a charcoal colored one. Three chrome rims and one dark rim made for a stylish ride. We did order a matching chrome rim and had it delivered to Arkansas to be installed when we arrive there a few weeks later. We did see some pronghorns and elk on the errand adventure, which was great.
We spent the last few days exploring more areas in and around Yellowstone. It did not disappoint us. We started every morning around eight AM, packed a good lunch with snacks, and we would get back to the RV around nine PM. Glorious days and we were enjoying more and more sun. One of the days included going back out to Tower Falls Road, where we were blessed to see a Big Horn Sheep with her days old baby. I didn’t know the babies are gray but the are and they are adorable. We watched the two of them walk down the steep rock face, cross the road, and then disappear in the direction of the river below. The lamb did not miss a step on the steep slope. It was impressive! As with the other photos, we used a telephoto lense and stayed a good distance away.
We managed to see a Whistling Swan, Sandhills Cranes, another Moose on the loose, elk and bison. We also visited more geothermal sites and watched a few geysers. Everyone wants to see Old Faithful but there are many more great geysers to see, without the crowds of Old Faithful. All in all I rate Yellowstone National Park a 12 on a 1 to 10 scale. I will return again and again. It’s officially my favorite of the places we visited.
I really enjoyed Yellowstone and can’t wait to go back and share it with my family. It is a spellbinding place, full of wonder. Next up: Cody, Wyoming! Thanks for reading.
We left very early for the Tower Falls area of Yellowstone National Park on the 3rd day. We had packed a lunch, as usual, and planned to stay until early evening. This was a spectacular day for wildlife viewing. Two grizzlies, five black bears, pronghorns, elk, and stampeding bison and calves. We also saw some outstanding geothermal features and enjoyed the Mammoth Hot Springs area. It was a wondrous day!
What a fantastic Day 3 in Yellowstone. So much to see! Stay tuned for Day 4 – Jackson Hole and The Grand Tetons. Lovely!
Day two in Yellowstone National Park took us on a route down Firehole Canyon Road, alongside the Firehole River and Falls. It was early in the morning and we were in for a big surprise. Down on a little peninsula in the Firehole River was an Elk who had just given birth to a beautiful calf. We parked and slowly exited the vehicle and sat quietly on a rock on the ledge above the river. We watched as the calf got up and nursed for the first time. It was a surreal and spiritual experience, a sacred part of nature. Please note that we used a telephoto lense and were well spaced away from the event out of respect for nature.
Once we could tear ourselves away from the miracle of birth, we completed the trek down Firehole Canyon Road. We stumbled upon a coyote hunting rodents in the meadow, bison, and many geothermal features, including geysers. We also saw Old Faithful and while it is a big attraction at Yellowstone, there are many other geysers that are more impressive and have fewer tourists vying for a good spot. I love exploring!
How in the world can one have a better day than day two at Yellowstone? Well, day three was bear day… Grizzlies and black bears. One with her yearling triplets. Stay tuned. It’s awesome! I love Yellowstone!
Our next adventure was visiting the National Bison Range in Montana. To break the trip up we spent one night in Cheney, Washington at Ponderosa Falls Resort, $10/night with Coast to Coast points. We broke camp early the next day and headed to our base of operations for the bison caper, St Regis, Montana. We stayed at the St. Regis Campground for $43/night with Good Sam’s. This is a beautiful area in a beautiful state.
After setting up camp we decided to tour the area and then head over to the Bison Range early the next morning. The afternoon local tour was great. The area has Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort on the Clark Fork River, many scenic drives and trails. We really enjoyed the afternoon.
We got an early start the next day and were on the way to the National Bison Range by 8 AM. The Bison Range was dedicated in 1908 as a National Wildlife refuge, the oldest in the United States. It is the top bison research center in the US. A little history about the bison, also known as the buffalo. Bison is the correct word for this majestic creature. Buffalo is also an accepted term but the purist out there may give you a little grief over it. By 1890 the bison were nearing extinction due to the US Government’s efforts to eradicate the bison during the Indian Wars. The plan was to kill off the Native Americans by starvation by getting rid of their major food source, then move the survivors to reservations. It was a land grab by the European settlers, aided and abetted by the US Government. Sad.
The National Bison Range is 18,800 acres in the Lake and Sanders Counties of Montana. It is in the Mission Mountain Range and is located in the area of the Glacial Lake Missoula, a glacial lake formed more than 18,000 years ago. There is a small remnant of the glacial lake in the valley. The valley is spectacular, as are the views, the fauna and the flora. This National treasure only gets 250,000 visitors a year. It’s a little known gem.
We decided to take the Red Sleep Mountain Drive through the bison range. The drive is a 19 mile, one-way dirt road which winds over the mountain and valley. It did not disappoint us! Magnificent! The area was in full spring bloom and we had a great experience there. I highly recommending a day there. You can drive the road through the range in 2.5 hours but if you travel that fast, you’ll miss so much. We spent about 6 hours taking everything in. It was exciting. Ray had a small encounter with a teenage bull. The bull side eyed him, snorted and pawed the ground. Ray slowly and quietly moved inside the open door of the truck. Trouble averted. Please enjoy the following pictures. I had fun taking them.
We enjoyed this area very much. We watched animals interacting with each other. The Pronghorns were nestled for their rest right in the middle of the bison herd. The valley was full of song birds that we sat and listened to as we watched the herds. What a great way to spend a day.
Next up: Glacier National Park. Thanks for reading!