Tuesday, we woke up with a plan. We left Rapid City early in the morning and made our way East toward the Badlands. Our first stop was Wall Drug. I remember visiting Wall, ND with Josh on our honeymoon. We passed through late at night, so nothing was open. The only thing I really remember is seeing the giant dinosaur by the road. Well, it turns out that Wall Drug is a first class tourist trap!
I imagine that Wall Drug would be a really fun place to wander around, just looking at all the amazing/ridiculous things they have going on there… IF you didn’t have three kids trailing behind you, begging you to buy EVERYTHING. Seriously, this place was crazy. Look one way and there’s a covered wagon to sit in, look another way, there’s a mini spray park. Ooh! Look over here… DONUTS! And rocks for sale and a cowboy store and a chapel (yes a chapel!) and a restaurant and a book store and four thousand toy stores. And more and more and more.
We quickly picked out some rocks and plastic animals, paid for our things, and made a beeline out of there! I’ve got to hand it to the guy who created Wall Drug… he definitely thought of everything! Word to the wise… don’t take your kids unless you want someone to cry because you won’t buy them forty two souvenirs.
After Wall Drug, we drove to the Badlands. I wasn’t prepared for just how incredibly gorgeous it was! I almost think it was cooler than the Grand Canyon (don’t hate me!). We entered the park at the Pinnacles Entrance and headed West on Sage Creek Rim Rd to visit the Prairie Dog Town. It was dirt road the whole way there, so even though it was a short distance, it took awhile to get there. We saw a few prairie dogs popping up out of their holes (apparently they come out more in the evening).
After seeing the prairie dogs, we headed back East and joined up with Loop Road. We stopped at most of the scenic overlooks. I’m not gonna lie… I was terrified my kids would fall over the edge. They don’t put railings up in most of these places, so it’s a little scary with kids. But the scenery was incredible, so it was definitely worth it! Josh was set on hiking a trail, so we picked the Saddle Pass Trail. It was kind of hot, but not TOO bad.
We loaded up our bag with waters, put on sunscreen, and headed out. The trail is only 1/4 mile, but it’s REALLY steep. And the ground was basically loose dirt, so we were all sliding around everywhere. About halfway up, I was tired of listening to Lia scream that she was slipping and couldn’t do it. So I told Josh to keep going with the other two and that she and I would turn around. She heard me say that and said, no, she wanted to make it all the way to the top. She’s not usually super adventurous, so I was really thrilled to see her respond that way!
We kept hiking and all five of us made it to the top. The view was awesome! And Lia was so proud of herself for making it all the way to the top. It was really tricky going back down, because it was so steep and the dirt was loose. The girls sat down and slid on their bottoms most of the way, which was slow going, but it worked. Josh’s parents got their car back and met us at the lodge near the exit to the Badlands park.
Heading out of the park, we noticed a HUGE prairie dog statue and even though we really needed to get on the road, we decided to stop. For 50 cents a bag, you can buy prairie dog food (i.e. unsalted peanuts in the shell) in the gift shop of the Badlands Ranch Store. Once you buy the food, it’s free to get in and feed the prairie dogs. The kids were SO stoked to feed them, especially since we had seen prairie dogs earlier in the day. These prairie dogs must have been very well fed, because it took quite a bit of coaxing to get them to eat anything. But they eventually did eat some peanuts from the kids and they were happy.
And then we headed East toward Mitchell, SD and the Corn Palace. We were very disappointed to find out that the Corn Palace is not even really made out of corn. AND, it’s in the middle of town, which just seemed odd. We decided to just drive on instead. We were all starving and looking for a diner. Our GPS only found Country Kitchen, but I did a quick check on Yelp and stumbled upon Rita’s Place. We headed there for dinner and we were not disappointed! We all had breakfast for dinner… the portions were huge, the prices were low, and the food was SO good! I highly recommend it if you ever happen to pass through Mitchell!
We grabbed ice cream at DQ on our way out of town and finally stopped for the night in Omaha. We had originally planned to visit the Omaha Zoo, but decided to just head home the next morning and save that for another trip.
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