We had a very long drive ahead of us from Milwaukee heading west to Colorado. The plan was to drive across the south of Minnesota and a lot of South Dakota, stopping first at a recreation area a few turns off the highway for the night. After ten long hours of driving with only a quick stop at Subway for our routine “sub of the day”, we finally reached the rec area just as the sun began to set.
It was one of the most amazingly beautiful and tranquil places we’d come across on our trip across the USA. The camp area was sitting on a very still and tranquil river, with nothing more than a few campfire bins and trees lining the patches along the shoreline. We had the entire place all to ourselves, an advantage of travelling mid-week, I suppose. We watched on as the sky lit up with all shades of pink, orange and blue, right before it was all replaced with darkness and a slight wind chill. We huddled around the campfire as the last of the flames died down, then returned to the warmth of Fuego to settle in for the night.
The next morning we again woke to darkness, got ourselves organised, and hit the road once again, this time headed for Badlands National Park. We weren’t planning on staying in the park itself, but instead just drive the scenic loop with a quick scenic stop at the Big Badlands Overlook and hike of Notch Trail, a short but scenic option. After our hike we were back on the highway, this time headed to South Dakota’s Black Hills, a very beautiful state forest home to the Mount Rushmore National Monument.
We made a quick stop off at the visitor centre to collect our information on campsites and points of interest, then swung by Walmart for the evening’s bottle of red. We drove all the way to the monument only to be told that there was a 20USD cost of entry per person, despite us having an annual national parks pass. As backpackers we thought this was a little much for something we felt only really obliged to see, so spun Fuego around and simply parked on the road leading up to the entry, gaining an impressive albeit far view away from paying visitors.
After our short visit we wound our way through beautiful mountain roads, finally reaching our lakeside camp spot where we set up around a fire and kept ourselves warm with a smooth cup of cheap red.