My dad and I for our annual vacation together, did an 8 day road trip starting in Rapid City, SD to Salt Lake City, UT. Our main places to visit were Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone, but we saw so much other great sights along the way.
We started out with a way too early 6am flight out of LAX, connected through SLC, then finally to Rapid City where we picked up our Chevy Traverse, which ended up getting 23mpg for the trip.
I heard about Wall Drugs so I figured we'd stop there, you really need to stop there since there's a billboard every mile along the way. More curiosity than anything at that point, but it's just a tourist trap, bunch of shops and stuff. We ate at a bad restaurant nearby, not many choices unfortunately.
Our next stop was the Badlands National Park, amazing landscapes there, and some prairie dogs, bison and deer. We then drove to Keystone to check into our hotel and it was still light out so we went to Mount Rushmore instead of at sunrise. It was great, hardly any people, nice light, except they charge a parking fee, even though my dad has the senior national park pass.
Day 2 we started with a nice free breakfast, saw a few deer right there at the hotel, then made our way to Custer State Park in search of bison. The lady at the visitor center told us where to find the herd, and she was right. We saw hundreds of them, some even came up to the car.
The next stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial, but it was foggy and we couldn't see it, they gave us half price admission to the museum though. After that we drove to Lead to find a Hawaiian restaurant I found on Yelp, but it was closed. We ended up eating at a nice place in Deadwood, then drove to Sturgis to check it out. Then back to Deadwood where I had the biggest piece of meat ever. It had to be 50 ounces of prime rib, excellent meat too, I was very surprised. I ate about 2/3 of it, that was just crazy.
Our third day was a long 7 hour drive to Cody, we stopped at Devil's Tower, then Little Bighorn, ending up in Cody and found a Chinese Buffet that was pretty good.
The fourth day we finally made it to Yellowstone, saw some of the sights on the way to the North entrance where we stayed just outside of the park. Saw lots of wildlife and some thermal mudpots, pretty cool stuff.
The fifth day we saw the rest of Yellowstone including Old Faithful, which wasn't as impressive as we expected. It must be rare to get a huge eruption, and it was so crowded, had to be a few thousand people there just waiting for something to happen.
Our sixth day we went to West Yellowstone to check out the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to see them up close. It was worth the trip, impressive animals, we also had a good breakfast, way better than inside the park. Late that afternoon we took a four hour wildlife tour, saw some bears, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, mule deer, mountain goats, and about a thousand bison.
Day seven we left Yellowstone and drove through The Grand Tetons National Park. The Tetons are impressive, great views of the mountains and lakes there, and we saw more bison, some blocking the road. We had lunch in Jackson at a good Thai restaurant, unfortunately we planned to have dinner at a good place for my dad's birthday, but we go there too early and they were closed. We changed our plans on staying in Idaho Springs to just drive to Salt Lake City where we got a free room at the Sheraton and had a nice free dinner in the Club Lounge.
Our final day, we had some time to kill so we went to the Antelope Island State Park, saw more bison, the Great Salt Lake, but didn't stay too long because of the smell. We stopped by Cabela's on the way to the airport, then headed home finally.
Unfortunately we landed in LAX at 4pm, sat in traffic for over an hour, picked up my dad's iPhone 7, his birthday present, set it up, had a quick dinner, then I headed home.
It was a great trip, we saw so much and covered so much ground, and my dad crossed of a few things on his bucket list.
Here's a breakdown of our expenses:
Rental Car $800.00
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