Day Five: Wisconsin to South Dakota

We departed from the Wisconsin Dells leaving a set of free water tickets behind in hopes that saving those few hours would get us ahead on better weather in South Dakota. We were mostly right.

We made our way into South Dakota, settling into the KOA campground in Mitchell, just west of Sioux Falls. The KOA was clean, but a bit smaller than expected. Unfortunately, we had arrived a bit too late for the girls to go swimming, but early enough to make a fire and cook some chili and smores!

Waking up at 7AM on Friday, the 4th of July we headed to the only tourist attraction in Mitchell. The Corn Palace! Corny I know, but it is actually pretty impressive and they’re currently redoing it (so far everything we’ve seen on this trip so far has been partially under construction!). I guess in a state full of corn, why not build a palace from it?


We left after an hour or so there to spend the 4th at Mt Rushmore. We drastically under-estimated the poor quality of fuel and the extreme cross winds in South Dakota we encountered, only averaging 27ish MPG on the highways we had to refuel before getting to Rushmore. Insert the getting screwed on gas price here. Advertised price of only fuel station around: $3.64/gal; actual price: $4.02/gal. We then grabbed food at a highway diner that was way overpriced and food was so/so.

Hwy 90 diner

Rushmore was actually fairly impressive and not TOOO crowded, only taking about 10 minutes to get through the line and parking. It really is an impressive sight to see. We decided to take the hike around the Presidential Trail to get different photos and to see what else may be at the park. It’s a pretty simple .60 mile trail and we encountered many Americans celebrating the 4th by complaining of the “climb” and the heat. They must not get into many mountains where they live, because this trail was very simple. The only complaint we have is that it is not stroller friendly as it leads you to believe with ramps all the way until about half way, then it’s all stairs. We carried the girls and the strollers the rest of the about 1/4 mile of stairs and didn’t really feel it, so I guess the altitude isn’t affecting us yet :)



We had to rush out of the park fairly quickly as pretty bad storms appeared to be coming in. We miss the hail and rain by only a few minutes which made the drive out of the Black Hills forest pretty interesting. I especially felt bad for that couple on the Harley we saw –┬ádon’t worry guys, it’s only hail and the no-helmet look is totally worth it.

With the weather and late arrival, we skipped camping for the night. The girls were out cold so we decided to get ahead of schedule and drove ahead to Wyoming, finding a hotel in Douglas for the night. The drive to Douglas was full of ups and downs, literally and figuratively. We were close on fuel, passed the only gas station around only to get 40 miles away and find no more fuel and had to turn back in order to have enough to get out of South Dakota. Surprisingly though, gas was cheap.


That was the downside of hitting Wyoming early. The upside was we rolled through Lusk, WY as their fireworks were going off. We pulled along the side street near their fairgrounds and watched for a few minutes. Driving at night down the empty highways you could see fireworks everywhere. Probably one of the best shows I’ve seen. Lusk put our hometown to shame on the 4th and it has a 1/8th the population!

Being a bit ahead of schedule finally, we don’t plan to make a long day tomorrow for my birthday, just take it easy and get to the campsite in Rawlins, WY early enough for the girls to play some.

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