Why You Should Stop at the Badlands When You Go to Mt Rushmore

Last summer, we went on a grand adventure (leaving from Texas) that covered Idaho (Yellowstone), Montana, Mt Rushmore, the Badlands, Missouri, and tons of historical sites in between. With all of the area we covered, we wanted to make sure all our stops were completely worth it. So if you are wondering, should I should stop in at the Badlands on my trip to Mt Rushmore? I say, “do it!” My kids (and my) favorite part of the whole trip was our day at the Badlands.

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Why you should stop at the Badlands when you go to Mt Rushmore

I have always wanted to go visit Mt Rushmore, but it always seemed too out of the way to make the trip. But when we realized it was directly in our path in between a Montana wedding we had to be to, and our cousin’s farm in Missouri we had plans to go to, we just had to take some extra time to make it happen.

Unfortunately, the day we were passing through Mt Rushmore happened to be the busiest week of the year. Every year in August, there is a huge motorcycle convention held up in a town called Sturgis, South Dakota. It’s very close to Mt Rushmore- so the whole area was saturated with motorcycles. Now, if I was a biker- this probably would’ve been a dream come true! But as a mom with 7 kids, traveling by herself, the big crowd wasn’t the most fantastic thing in the world. Not only was the traffic crazy, and Mt Rushmore packed with people, but the hotel prices were sky high with very little availability.

It was pretty hard to get around the little visitor’s center, and I was a hot mess trying to keep track of my kids in the masses of leather. But we made it, and the view really was amazing.

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We worried about taking the extra time to see the Badlands, having never been there, would it be worth it? Oh my goodness, it sure was!! One of the great things about the Badlands, is that you don’t have to go much out of your way to see them. If you are traveling along I-90, you just take the scenic route (it strays off the 90, and loops back up to it)- Highway 240. You can just drive through, or you can make little stops along the way.

I love it because the crowds were very low. The hikes were are easy or as hard as you wanted to make them, and they began right off the road. I could see my kids playing on the paths and climbing the rocks as I was making sandwiches in the back of my car. It was very easy to stop for just a few minutes and move on to the next site.

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The landscape is like nothing I’d ever seen before. The rock formations were extremely unique and breath taking. The kids enjoyed adventuring, and watching the prairie dogs pop in and out of their holes.

The only sad part about the trip was that a massive thunder storm moved in so we couldn’t stay longer. We would’ve also like to head over and spend some time at Custer State Park, but the weather kept us away.

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So definitely- go spend some time there. Next time, I would go to the Badlands all day and then hit Mt Rushmore in the evening for their sculpture illumination show.

For more fun, historical family travel destinations, check out these posts packed full of helpful tips:

Washington DC: Best Kept Travel Secrets

Statue of Liberty Cruise

A Day in Philly with 6 kids: what we did, what we’d do different

Why to Visit Historic Nauvoo in the Winter

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Hillary HessComment