We had a long drive through the Dakota Plains, reaching Mt. Rushmore with the rig. I had no idea how beautiful and different the mountains were in this part of the country. Huge granite spires reaching up to the sky and lush Ponderosa Pines as we drove up, and up, and up. I was thinking to myself “I think we can, I think we can” after all our mountain adventures in New Hampshire! Mt. Rushmore is impressive and we learned a ton in a short amount of time. It took 14 years to carve, lots of dynamite and jackhammers and 400 men working. The faces are to the scale of a 425 ft person. The kids earned their badges from Ranger Clark and off we went to the Elk Mountain campground in Wind Cave NP.
We arrived with an impressive breakdown from our youngest – and instantly found a group of 4 families from Colorado camping with all their kids. It is nice to have allies. Ours ran and ran with theirs and had a ball. Wren was the instigator of the introduction and we were quite happy with the way she took initiative and went after the play time she wanted/needed. We hope to run into them all in Denver next year.
We toured the impressive Wind Cave and learned all about the box formations (95% of which occur at Wind Cave NP) and the “time capsule” the cave creates, as our Ranger explained. It is a relatively dry cave (especially compared to the caves near home) and only has one opening large enough for a human to fit in – and it would have to be a small human to do so! It is the sixth largest cave system known in the world and they are pretty sure they have only found 10th of the distance. The kids earned their JR Ranger badges and we headed off to Badlands.