Whew. That trip was unbelievable:
Day 1: In the car before 4am. Arrived in the Badlands around 6. Ate dinner and did a short sunset hike.
Day 2: Morning hiking & picnic lunch in Badlands. Terrible, horrible, no good, dirt road for hours short cut to Wind Cave National Park. Cave tour. Beautiful drive to Mount Rushmore. Checked in, ate dinner and made it to the lighting ceremony at the Monument.
Day 3: Morning at Mount Rushmore. Afternoon hike at Devils Tower. Evening at a stop halfway to Yellowstone.
Day 4: Made it into Yellowstone mid-afternoon. On our drive across the park we managed to stick our feet in chilly Lake Yellowstone, view mudpots and fumaroles, get held up by bison on the road three times, go on a ranger-led walk around lots of geysers, eat dinner in the park lodge and miss Old Faithful not once but twice by mere minutes.
Day 5: Headed straight to Old Faithful. After its show we went on a hike up a mountain for incredible views of Grand Prismatic Spring. Then hiked around the spring (wow is that steam hot when it blows your way). Followed by a lovely picnic along a river and an afternoon hike around the canyon rim. Got back to the hotel in time to do laundry and swim before a ridiculously late dinner.
Day 6: Drove up to Glacier National Park. Very long drive but the Going to the Sun Road across the park was breathtaking.
Day 7: More time in Glacier. Met a very fun park ranger (who happened to be Notre Dame alum). Went on what I think was our best hike of the trip along Avalanche Creek to a glacier-fed lake. Gorgeous. Made it back in time to let the kids play on the hotel water slide and then enjoyed the great dinner-scene in little Whitefish, Montana.
Day 8: Drove the entire day on two-lane highways. Fantastic views – though a little creepy as we went along a wild fire for part of the trip and unfortunately, the ranger station was closed by the time we arrived at Craters of the Moon National Park (don’t worry I still got my passport stamped). No junior ranger program for the kids but took an hour or so to drive around the park and climb on some volcano cones.
Day 9: Drove into Grand Teton National Park. Had a pretty picnic creekside. Drove up to see Jackson Lake and wished we could have stayed at the park lodge there. And then we headed out on a 2.5 hour rafting tour down the Snake River. We only saw one moose and he was hidden in the shadows. We did see a beautiful bald eagle for a while. And it was fun to see the park from a different perspective than on a hike.
Day 10-11: lots & lots of driving.
Day 12: home for lots & lots of laundry.
I’ll get some pictures and stories up soon!