Hello everyone. Quick introduction of myself. I am 26 year old Agriculture Teacher from deep Southern Illinois. I grew up on a farm and have enjoyed farming and learning about agriculture my whole life. We didn't travel much as a family due to the farm. I recently started doing overnight solo hiking trips around where I grew just like I used to do when I was a kid. Started branching out and going to unfamiliar places. Ive always loved the Badlands National Park. I had never been, just saw pictures and videos and loved the scenery. I decided to take a trip this summer on a whim and this is my story. I drove my daily driver truck (2017 Ram 1500) and camped along the way.
Day 1- Traveled from Pinckneyville Illinois (now home) to Colorado Springs Colorado. I went to Colorado Springs to see a friend of mine who was stationed at Fort Carson before he was deployed. I spent the whole day on the road, leaving around 7am and arriving in Colorado springs around 8pm. I stayed with my friend that night.
Day 2- Hiked the Garden of the Gods loop in Colorado springs in the morning. Visited Fort Carson with my friend, and then went up to the top of Pikes Peak. We drove to the top. What an experience that was! I went from sweating at the bottom to freezing with snow/sleet at the top. The view was awesome! I stayed with my friend again that night.
Day 3- The plan was to drive to Mt. Rushmore. I started up the interstate but decided to detour through Denver and boulder to stop at some REI stores. (again, I am a hiker and couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the flagship REI store!) Because of my stops, I wasn't able to make it to Rushmore at a decent time so I decided to explore instead. I ended up in Cheyenne Wyoming, and then went on to Lake Minatare Nebraska to set up camp for the night. I stayed at Lake Minatare and enjoyed the night on the lake side.
Day 4- Drove to Mt. Rushmore. I arrived at a decent time, but didn't rush while there. I heard about the Crazy Horse Memorial and decided to go by there as well. While there I got in some pretty bad weather so decided not to go any further and found a place to stay for the time being. I camped in the Black Hills at Oreville Campground for the night. I sat up camp, then went on to explore the area a bit while the storms passed through. Skies started to clear up some so I was able to do a couple small trails and strolls along the side of the road. Went back to camp for the night.
Day 5- Drove to Badlands National Park. This is where I wanted to visit the most of anyways. I spent the whole day here. I hiked all the listed trails, and did some random exploring as well. It was a hot day, reaching 101 degrees. It was a highlight of my trip for sure. I greatly enjoyed it. I decided to stay in the badlands at the Sage Creek Campground. I was able to get a nice spot for the night and enjoyed watching the sunset from the top of the hills around the campground. Saw lots of cool wildlife throughout my trip including sheep, bison, prairie dogs, deer, and more.
Day 6- I got up and decided to explore a bit more before running into Wall South Dakota for some ice and a hot meal. I decided to visit a few things in the area but unfortunately they were closed. So I just kept driving. I drove on to the Corn Palace. Then just kept driving. I decided to drive through the night and just keep heading home.
Day 7- I kept driving, and made it home around 3am. I wasn't planning on coming home that fast, but the road was easy to travel and I saw everything I sat out to see.
I had an amazing time, and would greatly recommend this path or trip to anyone!
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