After visiting Mount Rushmore, the next day we had another stretch on the road. We drove from Mount Rushmore to Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming.
We detoured a bit out of the way so we could see Devil’s Tower. This was America’s first National Monument and it is a place sacred to many Native American Tribes. The kids were very excited to learn that there was also a Junior Ranger Program offered here and all 5 earned their badge! It was pretty amazing and we spent a few hours hiking around the base and enjoying a picnic lunch. On our way out, we passed a section of the park that reminded me of sort of a prairie dog whack-a-mole game. Those little “cuties” (as per Lily and Grace) would pop up and jump back into the holes very quickly. It was pretty funny to see.
We proceeded through South Dakota and into Wyoming, the vastness of the land is unreal. Scott and I debated several times how far we could see, it was endless and uninterrupted (the view not the debate). There were no houses, buildings, towers, or people for miles!
As we drove on, poor Grace started crying as she wanted to go home. I tried to explain to her that her whole family was here with her and essentially this WAS her home. Scott thought it was hilarious that we all live in the van (and even more hilarious that we were camping by the river tonight – so we were going to be living in our van down by the river-SNL reference lol)
Big Horn National Forest Tent Camping
After the entrance to the National Forest where our campground was located, we had no cell service…none. What we did have was snow! And moose! And deer! It was the most beautiful campsite!
We set up the tent (and I use the word “we” liberally here) and “we” started a fire. Although Scott didn’t think we had enough firewood so he had to go buy some – 6 miles down the road. All good, yes? But the thing is even though he had a phone and I had a phone, there was NO service! Seriously. I mulled that one over while freaking out that it was taking him 40 minutes to drive 6 miles and back. I started worrying about not being able to contact anyone – at all – for anything. I was sitting at the campsite, in the cold, at night, surrounded by moose, and snow, and responsible for 3 little people without my husband, while my older children told me ghost stories. It was awesome 🙂
It all worked out fine. Scott took so long as he had to keep stopping for deer and moose in the road! And we all hunkered in for a long winter’s nap as it was COLD.
In the end, we all made it! First-night tent camping and in the morning we were all alive- partially frozen, but alive! I have never been as cold in my life as I was that night. Case in point, I got up and out of my sleeping bag at 6 in the morning – just to go stand by the fire that Scott had gotten up even earlier to make because we were both too cold to stay “asleep” any longer – and anyone who knows me knows that there’s not much that makes me want to “not sleep longer” BTW, I use “asleep” in quotation marks as I don’t think cuddled shivering in a sleeping bag all night actually counts as sleeping but whatever. (Picture is my writing in FROST that was on the picnic table that morning!)
Grace was up early too – not because she couldn’t sleep but just because. Awesome! She and Scott went to explore the campground; playing in the mud, splashing in the water, and climbing in the snowbanks. Just your typical summer camping fun. Lol. When they came back, Grace still wanted to explore. She and I planned a sneak snowball attack on Scott. She thought it was hilarious.
As the other kids gradually woke up and climbed out of their cozy warm sleep, they had all the blankets so they wouldn’t freeze- they all raved about what a fantastic camp experience this was. Two of them even discussed what we could do to camp again that night, one of the things involved reserving their mother a hotel with heat. So, we packed up and moved on. (It did warm up really quickly once the sun came out – so much so that Lily felt shorts and flip-flops were the best way to play in the snow.)
With one camping night down – 9 more to go, I was so glad we were sleeping in a cabin that night. Now we were off to Yellowstone.
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 4 – South Dakota, Wind Cave, and Mount Rushmore
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 5 – South Dakota to Wyoming
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 6- Stop #8 Yellowstone
- Rapid City to Devils Tower Road Trip Loop with Kids with Stops in Spearfish, Deadwood, and Sturgis