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We set our alarms for 5:30 so that we could be on our way to Mount Rushmore by 6am Friday morning. It's one of those once in a lifetime trips, especially if you've never lived anywhere close to it, so we were excited to get going. Since Mount Rushmore is only about 90 minutes from Badlands National Park, we decided to tack that onto our day as well.

On our way through Guernsey, Wyoming, we saw signs for Oregon Trail monuments and Wagon Rut sites. We decided that this was something that was definitely worth stopping for. According to plaques, the trail was diverted away from the dangerous Platte River and practically every wagon that traveled west crossed over this same soft sandstone, creating ruts that are nearly five feet deep in some places. Incredible.

Around lunchtime, we made it to Mount Rushmore. The whole monument is breathtaking, and it's so much bigger than I imagined it would be. We spent a little time here, looking around and reading some history. Then we got back in the car and headed for the Badlands.

Okay, so some backstory is needed for the next photos. We have prairie dogs in the field across from our campground, and we think they are hilarious. We always joke that when we moved west, groundhogs and deer became prairie dogs and antelope.

We were almost to the entrance of the Badlands when we saw a giant prairie dog sculpture on the side of the road. We joked that we should stop and take a picture with it, but when we saw a sign that said "Feed the Prairie Dogs," we pulled into the parking lot as quickly as we could.

We bought small bags of unsalted peanuts for a dollar each, and headed over to where all the little cuties were congregated. They were hilariously adorable, and they flocked to Rog like moths to a flame. They were actually taking the peanuts right out of his hand! Weirdly enough, it was one of the highlights of our day and something we will never forget.

Finally, we made it to the Badlands. They were incredible, unreal, and so beautiful. The history of this place is unbelievable. It was once a prehistoric ocean floor, and its fossils have provided keys to scientific studies on evolution ever since. Playing home to human life for over 11,000 years, perhaps the most relevant piece of history to us was when the Sioux Indians used the Badlands as their stronghold against the US Army in late 1800s. This eventually led to the Wounded Knee Massacre. Truly, if history interests you at all, you should read about it and put this at the top of your travel list.

I really wanted to hike Notch Trail, which is arguably the most iconic trail in the park; a log ladder gives breathtaking views. We went on to do Window, Door, and Cliff Shelf Nature Trails. It was HOT, but the best part of our day. So beautiful.

We had dinner in Rapid City, and made it back to Cheyenne around midnight. These are the things about living in Wyoming that we'll never forget.


  1. Hi Roger! It's Dr. Falk from MCPHS! Totally random that I stumbled upon this blog, but I love it! I'm so jealous that you get to feed chubby Prairie Dogs! How cute! Glad to see you're enjoying your 4th year! :)

    1. Hi, Dr. Falk! So glad you got to see Roger in Anaheim! I was happy to see that you found our blog, and I'm glad to hear that you've been following along!


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