South Dakota and Wyoming | Raleigh Family and Travel Photographer

I already posted the Colorado portion of our trip, so here are the South Dakota/Wyoming pictures. I may do one more post with iPhone only pictures, and then I promise I’ll stop ūüôā

It was about a 7 hour drive from Rocky Mountain National Park to the Badlands of South Dakota for the second leg of our trip and it was just so worth it. It’s one of the most unique natural places I’ve seen. If you want a place to stay in the area, I highly recommend the¬†Cedar Pass Lodge cabins that are right in the park. Ours backed up to views like this:

You can feel really small out there.

Mountain goats in the distance.

The Yellow Mounds area in the park killed me with those colors.

Proof that I, too, was on this trip:

Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. We stayed in a cabin here for a few nights and easily could have stayed longer.

Mount Rushmore is a quick drive from Custer State Park. I recommend going in the late afternoon so you can see it in the day and at nightfall.

The stars were so bright out there.

Needles Highway in Custer State Park

This was one of my favorite little moments on the trip. We stopped at this big, open prairie for a picnic and some chill time as we drove through the Wilderness Loop in Custer. There are lots of prairie dog holes in that area and we could see them pop up and call to each other. It was green as far as you could see and the sky was big and open and blue. It reminded me of this quote from Anne of Green Gables:

“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I’d look up into the sky–up–up–up–into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer.”

We could see these burros from where we were picnicking and went over to see them.

Can I tell you how excited I was to see these hefty guys? It was giddy happiness as I cautiously got out and watched them crossing the prairie.

Little did we know this was just around the corner.

This herd really paid us no mind. They walked right up to and past all of the cars parked near them. There were lots of babies and mothers, but only a few bulls. We saw some large bulls on our drives, but they were usually much more solitary.

And, yes, this is the herd we were in.

There’s a¬†lookout area¬†on Needles Highway that is absolutely overrun with chipmunks. They eat right out of your hand with no fear. Talah loved this so much that we went¬†on two different days.

Jacob exploring (and a chipmunk)

Our last stop was Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. It was a little out of our way, but something we didn’t want to miss while we were somewhat close by. Devil’s Tower was the first national monument in the US and is considered sacred by several tribes. It is also a huge attraction to climbers and is iconic to anyone who has seen¬†Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

We happened to be there on the 4th of July (we planned it that way) and were pretty excited to watch fireworks by the tower. That didn’t work out well for us, but that story is too long. What was really cool, though, was seeing night climbers while we walked around the base of the tower. Several people climbed to the top of the tower to watch the fireworks from above and you can see headlamps on some climbers in the picture below. Side note: Jared Leto was one of the climbers that night and he was also scheduled to interview Frank Sanders, the owner of Devil’s Tower Lodge, which is where we stayed. ¬†If you’re heading out there, that is the place to stay. Frank is a lot of fun and we had an amazing view of the tower right from our room.

A little Milky Way action happening above the silhouette of Devil’s Tower in the distance.