South Dakota part two: Mount Rushmore, Hill City, Custer State Park & Black Hills National Forest

We fit a LOT into the two full days we were in South Dakota. (If you missed my first South Dakota recap of Badlands National Park, check it out here!)

On day two, after packing up camp and leaving the Badlands, we headed straight for South Dakota’s most famous landmark: Mount Rushmore.

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I was a little bit annoyed that, even with our national parks annual pass,  we still had to pay $11 for “parking” (the alternative: hike several miles up a steep highway?) to go see the monument. But we paid our way and went to check it out—one at a time, since dogs aren’t allowed inside the monument.

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A good day in the Badlands

After our wonderful stay in Wisconsin, we said goodbye to family and—clean, rested, with the car neatly packed and a cooler full of cheese—started our journey west.

Fast-forward nearly 400 miles of incredibly boring southern Minnesota interstate…and we finally crossed into South Dakota! We ended up camping in Palisades State Park for the night—juuuust over the border to the east of Sioux Falls. After a good night’s sleep, we decided to do a little exploring before getting back in the car. And it was the coolest place! Originally an old mining town, the park featured a winding river with crazy rock formations and trails all along the shores.

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We went for a short hour-long hike, and at 9:30 a.m. on a weekday, didn’t see another soul. It ended up being one of those unexpected road trip surprises: a hidden gem just outside of Sioux Falls. If you’re ever in the area, you should definitely check it out.

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After that, it was onward to our next destination: Badlands National Park, the first national park of our trip! It was just a few more hours of boring interstate (and about 8 million tourist trap billboards) away, about an hour east of Rapid City. After we took photos with the sign (obviously) and purchased our pass (we’re official card-carrying NPS annual pass holders now, NBD) we headed into the park.

dsc_0678And about two minutes later, we felt like we were on another planet.

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Family tour Part Two: much more than cheese, brats, and beer

[Writer’s note: Guys. Blogging from the road is so hard. I’m writing this from a hotel (our first one of the trip!) in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so I’m a little bit behind…I promise I’ll catch up eventually, but there’s so much to write about and so little time! I’ll put in one more plug for my Instagram feed—follow me there (@laurahoxworth) to see more real-time updates. For now, here’s a recap of our time in Wisconsin!]


After our day in Cincinnati, we set off for the second leg of our family history tour: Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland. This part was all about Chris’s family. His dad’s side (the Panoshes) goes back several generations in Wisconsin, and he still has relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins) throughout the state, most of whom I had never met before.

On our way there, we made a quick stop in Chicago—just enough time to walk from the Buckingham Fountain up to Millennium Park, take a tourist photo with the Cloud Gate, get kicked out because apparently you’re not supposed to have dogs there, and then run back to our car before the meter ran out.

From there, our first stop was Milwaukee! I don’t know what I was expecting from Milwaukee exactly—to be honest, I spent so much time looking forward to towering mountain ranges and national parks out West, I hadn’t thought much about Wisconsin besides the cheese, brats, and beer. But after a full day of exploring, Milwaukee had totally blown me away.

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