Our nine-day trip from Oshkosh, Wis. to Wyoming and back
To celebrate five years of marriage and 8 and a half years of dating, we decided to take a camping trip out West. We left on a Friday afternoon and returned around 7 p.m. one week and one day later. Take a look at our stops along the way...
Stop No. 1: Perrot State Park, Trempealeau, Wis.
Stop No. 2: The Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD
We traveled 5.5 hours from Perrot State Park in Trempealeau, Wis. to The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. The exterior is re-decorated each year using locally produced corn and other grains and grasses.
Inside The Corn Palace are murals with information from each decade on South Dakota and U.S. history, as well as a display showing the impact of corn, from toothpaste to food, it takes 25 corn plants per person per day to maintain the American way of life, according to one of the displays at The Corn Palace.
You can also purchase—you guessed it—corn on the cob and popcorn at the Palace's concessions stand, as well as other corn and South Dakota souvenirs.
Stop No. 3: Tractor Museum in Kimball, SD
My husband LOVES old tractors and saw a sign for a tractor museum in Kimball, SD, so we made a stop to this free museum (donations welcome).
Set-up in several pole buildings are nearly 100 tractors, as well as other antiques, such as cement mixers, cars and household items.
Stop No. 4: Al's Oasis in Chamberlain, SD
Al's Oasis offers a restaurant, gift shop, grocery store and even a hotel!
We both tried their bison burger, but the restaurant also offers a buffet and home made desserts.
I also stopped for a selfie with a bison (statue), because everyone warned me about taking selfies with wild animals...
Stop No. 5: The Badlands, Interior, SD
We spent the second night of our trip in the Badlands at Cedar Pass Campground.
While this was the worst night of sleep we got throughout the whole trip (the wind whipped through our tent the whole night), it was also totally worth it.
We arrived near sunset when a thunderstorm was rolling in and watched the lightning roll across the Badlands. Waking up to a beautiful pink sunrise didn't hurt either.
The campground was wide-open and provided each campsite with a picnic table. The campground also had quarter-operated showers (but there were showers!).
Stop No. 6: Bear Country U.S.A., Rapid City, SD
From a brochure we picked up at Al's Oasis we found our way to Bear Country U.S.A. in Rapid City, SD.
Bear Country U.S.A. is a drive-thru wildlife park featuring bighorn sheep, black bears, grizzly bears, elk, reindeer and more. At the end of the driving tour of the park, we stopped at baby land, where we were able to get out of the car and see all of the baby bears (so cute!), as well as one adult, waving bear.
Stop No. 7: Mount Rushmore, Keystone, SD
Next we went to Mount Rushmore in Keystone, SD.
This was a fairly quick stop with a short walk on the trails near the monument, as well as a lunch break at monument's cafeteria. We enjoyed their buffalo burger and buffalo hot dog.
Stop No. 8: Devil's Tower, Hulett, WY
Stop No. 9: Sitting Bull Campground, Ten Sleep, WY
We spent our third night of our camping trip in Sitting Bull Campground in Ten Sleep, WY.
Sitting Bull Campground is located in Bighorn National Forest and has a BEAUTIFUL meadow view from campsites tucked beneath the pine trees.
Stop No. 10: Cody, WY
Cody, WY is a nice tourist town just outside of Yellowstone National Park.
We stopped at two museums: The Cody Dug Up Gun Museum and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
The Cody Dug Up Gun Museum is a small one-room museum filled with firearms that were literally dug up and donated to or purchased by the museum. It's a quick stop, but definitely cool.
You could easily spend the whole day (and we almost did) at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, WY.
This museum features five wings, one of which is dedicated entirely to two floors of firearms (my husband's favorite part). I really enjoyed the Draper Natural History Museum in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Stop No. 11: Wapiti Campground, Cody, WY
At the Wapiti Campground in the Shoshone National Forest, we had bison droppings just outside our tent! Crazy!
We fell asleep to the sound of water running through the Elk Fork Creek and it was definitely a cool experience.
Stop No. 12: Yellowstone National Park, East entrance
Stop No. 13: Colter Bay Village Campground
Stop No. 14: Jenny Lake
Stop No. 15: Elk Preserve
We drove through the Elk Preserve just outside of Jackson Hole, WY hoping to see some Elk. No such luck. We did see lots of pronghorn deer (some people also call them antelope, though they are not).
After driving through the Elk Preserve we also drove through a backcountry campground. WHOA. There were one-lane dirt roads that took you through winds and turns along a steep hill. One wrong turn and I could have accidentally driven off the side of a cliff. (I didn't though. :) )
Stop No. 16: Wall Drug in Wall, SD
After camping overnight at Jenny Lake Campground in Grand Teton National Park, we started our journey back home.
We followed the signs and made a pit-stop at Wall Drug in Wall, SD. It's definitely a tourist trap (think Wisconsin Dells shops in downtown Wisconsin Dells), but still cool.
Stop No. 17: KOA campground in Deadwood, SD
Stop No. 18: Broken Boot Gold Mine in Lead, SD
Stop No. 19: A hotel in Sioux Falls
For the final night of our trip back home we stayed in a hotel in Sioux Falls, as well as went out to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant for our anniversary.
Stop No. 20: HOME!
While we were happy to be home, we also REALLY enjoyed our time on vacation. We saw TONS of wildlife, took in beautiful scenery and enjoyed our time together. We also returned home very well rested, which we hear is not common for people on vacation (the saying goes they need a vacation from their vacation).
We picked up our puppies from "doggy camp" and they have slept ALL DAY!