After returning back to Cali from our usual Summer visiting trip to the east coast, our next trip we were to embark on would be a National Park Road-Trip!
Our plans were to fly out to Denver and do a loop from there. Hitting Rocky Mountain NP, Mount Rushmore NM, Devils Tower NM, and Yellowstone NP!
Tickets were all purchased well in advance and Dominic and I were both quite amped about the trip! Cosette however was NOT. She (11yrs old) decided that she had been traveling too much and that she didn't want to go..beside that she claims that she hates road-trips! Is she really MY daughter?! LOL
So being that I don't want to force her and make her hate grow even stronger. I agreed that she can stay home with her 'mom mom' (my mom).
During my research for the trip, I found that South Dakota had so much more to offer than what I thought was just going to be seeing good ol' Mount Rushmore and then moving on! After realizing how many wonderful places South Dakota actually had, I excitedly added:
Custer State Park (Wildlife Loop Road, Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road) but to my disappointment we were just going to miss the annual Buffalo Roundup by a few days - sounded like it was going to be super exciting, but what could we do.
Also added were: Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands NP, Wind Cave NP, & the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary!
With under 2 weeks to go before our little adventure, dear Colorado was hit with one of the worst storms in modern history, causing much flooding and disaster! Rocky Mountain NP was out of the question, since there was no road to access it. I was of course bummed, but who am I going to complain to? I added a day to Colorado Springs where Dominic and I would check out Manitou Springs and wander around the red rocks at Garden of the Gods.
When we arrived into Denver International Airport, we proceeded as usual and went to pick up our rental car. Upon our arrival at the rental agency, there was a line that was practically out the door and only 3 agents working the counter assisting the huge crowd. Well, I’ve never been known as Miss Patience, I waited for a bit and realized that this line wasn’t moving fast enough for me and decided to made other reservations (on the spot) at another agency. We then headed to this other agency and although it too was quite busy, the customer service was much faster and the line was moving. The reason being that everything was so busy was because of FEMA coming into Denver in assistance for the recent floods.
Once we finally got a car, the rest of the day was filled with eating, shopping and then going to see a Rockies game (my first time).
Somehow I managed to sleep that night, and luckily our second night was switched for another hotel that was to be on our route the following morning. After a nice day hiking at The Garden of the Gods and checking out Manitu Springs. We headed to Fort Collins for the night.
In the wee hours of the morning, we (I) drove up from Fort Collins to the Black Hills of South Dakota, Dominic slept and missed out on all the beauty and solitude. Dirt roads and wilderness. It was a wonderful feeling to be out on the open road once again!
Once we arrived, we found out that the Buffalo Round Up had to be postponed and that it was actually coming up the following day!!! So you know that meant we were definitely going! That night we went headed to see Mount Rushmore for the first time!
Attending the Buffalo Round Up was quite a hoot, and we cuddled and bounced around to keep war amongst the locals we were all warm and toasty in their winter like gear, blankets, and supplies. A number of comments were made in good humor assuming that we must’ve been wither from FL or North Dakota! Either we didn’t know how to dress for this weather or we were use to the weather and it didn’t bother us.
While I had already been to Yellowstone, it was a first for both Dave and Dominic, and I was excited for them to see it! All of the wildlife and majestic beauty. All of the thermal activity. What a very unique place, and a bit smelly too!
I couldn’t seriously believe it, even with my own eyes. This was crazy. And to think of all the other travelers, the ones who came from abroad to visit this special place. All being turned away! It was a true shame. So, onto Plan B - which I didn’t quite have yet! LOL
We had to reroute our directions and I figured that we could at least still see the Grand Tetons (another one that I’ve been to and knowing that we might not be able to hike, but still get some awesome vantage points even without entering through the gates). Stopping in Jacksonhole, WY along the way, we managed to still have a wonderful day and it only left us wanting more! So as we drove into the sunset on our way back toward Denver, I sat there (as the passenger), and started mapping out the next trip to Yellowstone and more! Why, you ask…Because that’s what I do!