Day 5 Road trip: Casper – Mt. Rushmore – Keystone – Wind Cave – Hot Springs

After a good night’s rest we stopped to top off the fuel and spotted this place right next door so we had to stop and take photos! It was closed of course, but based on the outside of the building/parking lot, it looks like a fun place to dine and we wished we had found it the night before!

We headed out for South Dakota and Mt. Rushmore. I love the red paved roads we came upon. It was nice to have something different in view after so many hours/days on the road.

As we drove through one of the last towns before the park, we stopped to grab a sandwich, and in this town, they had these bison statues on just about every street corner – decorated differently, but I snapped a pic of just this one.

Mount Rushmore is such an amazing thing to see. To know that most of these carvings were done using dynamite is such a wow factor and truly incredible to see. If you haven’t been, I hope you get a chance to go one day! There is a trail from the visitor’s center. Made up of boardwalks and many steps. As you walk around, it takes you to different locations with changing views of the monument. As you walk, you’ll come across plaques with information on a President. If you look up, you’ll see you are in good view of that President’s carving. And this occurs until all 4 have been seen. Continue to walk around and you’ll end up at the Sculpture Studio. The studio houses the smaller version of the memorial which was used by the sculptor to calculate all of the measurements for the full size version. Everything was calculated precisely and then transferred to the mountain. After the studio, you then begin your climb uphill (again, steps) and it will loop you back to the visitor’s center. Entrance is free, but parking was $10 per vehicle.

From here we headed out towards the little town of Keystone. It’s an interesting little place and could be fun to walk around. As you pull into town, there is a place with a lot of foot traffic – a place where there are a lot of wood carvings, some of them quite large. We opted not to stop there, but if we had more time, or if we had younger kids with us, we definitely would have made time to stop and check out the carvings! It looks like a cute little town.

It was starting to get late in the day and we were still headed to Wind Cave National Park. I had read that they often run out of cave tour tickets early so we knew that was a chance, but I was more concerned with what the wait time might be. When we arrived, we were greeted by the majestic bison (we stopped on our way out and took some pictures closer up). We stopped at the center and inquired about the cave tours. They did have a couple of tickets left, but it would have been about a 90 minute wait and so we opted not to wait. If we had it to do over again, we would have gone by earlier and at least gotten tickets, then gone elsewhere and come back. But it’s yet another lovely area to drive around, and the bison were cool to see!

Oh, and prairie dogs sitting popped out of their holes (everywhere!). There was one near the bison and my husband decided to get closer. The prairie dog was not happy about that, climbed the rest of the way out of the hole and started yelling at him lol

Because it was getting late and it had been a long day, we finished up with our pictures and headed to Hot Springs for the night. I realized I forgot to take pictures of the menu, but we had dinner at a restaurant called Woolly’s. Good food and drink and they have both a salad bar and a sides bar. The staff were very friendly. We would go back here again if in the area again!

Day 6 – (sorting pictures now) Hot Springs to Rawlins WY

Day 4 (Wednesday) Road trip: Jackson – Grand Teton – Dubois – Casper

As mentioned at the end of my Day 3 post, we ended our day in Jackson. Everything we did on day 3 was on or near Teton Park Rd headed into Jackson so it made sense to end with stops along the 191 from Jackson on our way out of town.

I took some photos along the way to our first stop. Always beautiful scenery!

We began with a stop at Mormon Row to take a couple of pictures of the historic barns/buildings that still stand. Such a beautiful area and with the Tetons behind them. It really can make your mind wander, and wonder what it must have been like to have settled there back in the day!

After Mormon Row, we made a stop by Schwabacher Landing for some reflective photos of the Tetons. Unfortunately there was a breeze that morning so the water did have some movement to it, making the reflection less than stellar, but sometimes you take what you can get. Moving water or not, it was still a surreal way to spend the morning.

When we got to the 191 junction, we went ahead and went back into Teton Park (I have an annual pass so entry fee for a couple of photos wasn’t an issue) and headed up a few miles to Oxbow Bend. Unfortunately, it was a little later by the time we got there, so aside from the breeze causing movement, there were already folks out on kayaks moving the water around as well. So no reflections here (you definitely need to get here earlier in the morning to catch those beautiful reflective shots), but as with Schwabacher, it is still a beautiful site to enjoy.

Some of the variety of scenery along the way to our next stop.

Knowing we had a long ride at this point to Casper, I had done some quick research and learned that Dubois is jackalope country so we made a stop there to be complete tourists, take some pictures with the jackalope creatures they had, and grab a t-shirt or two.

Sadly there was road construction right at the entrance so we didn’t realize what was there until we were jammed up. But something I missed in my quick search, was further outside of the town of Dubois. If you have interest in military vehicles, this stop might be right up your alley. There is a National Museum of Military Vehicles on the right side of the road, as you head from Dubois to Casper. My husband was disappointed I hadn’t found this in my research, so we’ll try to catch this if we go back through the area.

Keep an eye out as you drive along the roads – not only does the scenery change from green fields to trees, to rocks, but if you look carefully, particularly in areas with a lot of sagebrush, you might catch a glimpse of these little lovelies – antelope! Not nearly as easy to spot I found. Keep an eye out for the white patches, particularly on their necks and “back side” – that’s what would catch my eye when passing! Beautiful animals!

Some more scenic variety….

Then came a long drive, with no planned stops until we arrived in Casper for the night. We got checked into our hotel, asked the clerk for a good place for dinner and she suggested we try The Fort which was nearby. So we headed over, had a drink and a nice dinner. This place is lively with music and a large bar. The food was good. I ordered a wrap with sweet potato fries and to my surprise, the fries were like dessert – they were SO yummy, sprinkled in cinnamon/sugar and they had a cinnamon/sugar butter for dipping. Oh my!

Day 5 – Casper – Mt Rushmore – Wind Cave – Hot Springs SD post coming soon