It's finally the off-season so that means we get to take a vacation for some good 'ole family fun! Josh and I had been mulling over where to go this year, but since we wanted to keep expenses low we decided to head out to Colorado to visit his parents, and spend a few extra days driving home through South Dakota. In the 16 years we have been doing the drive out there, we have never taken this route home. Jokes on us! We've been missing out on some serious scenery this entire time!
Not to hate on Nebraska or anything, but....well that state is terrible to drive through. So from now on I'm going to press a little harder to head the way of the buffalo back to Minne.
This was an exciting trip out there for us mainly because we had just picked up our new truck. Josh is so proud of her, it's totally his new baby! She handled the mountains like a champ, too. His parents live outside Denver in the most awesome mountainside cottage. It's the greatest place to just go chill out for a bit, breathe in that clean air and get yourself right again. My mother-in-law, Judy has quite the array of bird feeders and houses in her yard so there was no shortage of wildlife pics to be had!
During our stay there, we went and hung out in Golden (home of Coors Brewing) and went on several hikes around the area. Everyone was super supportive of my request to venture out to get some photos of the fall foliage that was peaking.
The highlight of the trip though was during our drive through Golden Gate Canyon and seeing the herd of bighorn sheep on the side of the road. We stayed there for quite awhile just watching them. They were so interesting! Plus, you never know when a mountain lion might swoop down and cause a scene. Which it didn't, but it would have been cool if it did! From what we could tell, there were 3 alpha males in the group with the one with the largest horns being top ram.
Our time in Colorado couldn't last forever, and it was time to get our little adventure in the wild wild west started. Both of us had been there before as kids, myself when I was in 6th grade. My dad had just seen Dances with Wolves and was dead set on having himself an "out on the range" experience. We rented an RV and saw all the sights that there were to be seen, Corn Palace and all! I had a good time, but don't think I really appreciated it for what it was. Not this time though! We woke up and hit the road by 5am and drove north through Colorado and Wyoming. I didn't realize that Josh had never been to Wyoming before either so it was kinda nice hitting a new state together for the first time. We ate some mouth watering huevos rancheros at a little roadside restaurant, saw an antelope heard running on the prairie, and a little farther down the road we found these cowboys rounding up cattle.
Our first stop once we got to South Dakota was Spearfish Canyon which is just west of Deadwood. I had read that it was the state's most scenic spot to view the fall colors, which I'm sure it was about 2 weeks ago. By the time we got there, all the leaves had already fallen for the season and was looking pretty bare. It was still a beautiful drive through the the canyon with the tall cliffs and flowing streams throughout the drive. The next stop was down to Custer State Park, about 2 hours south. We wanted to do the Wildlife Game Loop through the park before dark so we had to put the pedal to the metal. halfway there, we got the most wonderful surprise when we drove past Pactola Lake. Absolutely stunning as you can see from the photos below. Pretty sure Josh was wishing he hadn't left all his rods at home..
We made it to Custer in the nick of time with an hour to spare before sunset which we figured was about the right amount of time to do the full loop. We knew going in that we were probably going to see some buffalo up close, but I forgot how large and intimidating they are in person. We were so proud of Kigen during all this, he did so well with a free roaming buffalo 3 feet from him!
The next morning we woke up bright and early so we could hit the heart of The Badlands by sunrise. I had planned our route the night before, we would drive south on 44 off of I-90 and come up the back way by turning off in Scenic, SD. What we didn't know was that the the next 25 miles would be a gravel road. I thought for sure that Josh would tell me to find a new route that involved pavement, but he forged on down that road with very little complaining, but every time a rock hit his brand new truck, a little part of him was cursing something, hopefully not me! We were both so happy that we found this route because the most popular route doesn't even hit until halfway through, so unless you go looking for the first part, you'd probably never even see it. It's unfortunate, because that was the most beautiful part! We saw more buffalo and bighorn sheep along the way. Two of the bison even got risqué with an early morning hump.
We made it home that night with 4 days left of my vacation to spare! Can't wait to spend them at home getting caught up on life! Thanks for stopping in!
Hey there -
I'm Bri! Lover of food, wine, and photography that is currently traveling with my professional bass fishing husband along with our cantankerous rottie, Kigen. When not traveling you can find me living the lake life off the shores of Lake Mille Lacs in Isle, MN. Pour a drink, pull up a chair and join me as I journey across the country documenting it all along the way!