We visited several national parks and monuments on our recent trip. The first was the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. As we were approaching the park, I warned the kids that they needed to watch out the sides of the car in order to see the “Badlands.” When they saw the first cliffs, they were shouting. I couldn’t believe how excited they were. That evening we drove through part of the national park and were able to hike along the cliffs. The next day we took the road through the park as we headed to our next destination. We were all amazed by the cliffs and rocks. We looked for fossils, but didn’t see any. We did, however, see prairie dogs. My kids wanted to take them home. I’m sure our dog would love a prairie dog as pet for however short-lived that would be.
We also attempted to visit the Jewel Cave monument outside of Custer, South Dakota. We were able to see the visitors’ center and a hike, but could not go into the cave. The tours had already filled for the day and we didn’t make it back another day. We did pass one of the entrances of the cave and it was like standing in front of an air conditioner. Nice relief on a hot day.
The other national monument we visited was Mount Rushmore. We went to the evening lighting ceremony which was pretty cool. At the end they recognized all the veterans who were there and over 100 men and women went forward and told us their branch and years of service. If you get a chance to visit at that time, it is an amazing experience.
We have also visited Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan several times. It’s more beautiful if you aren’t running a marathon, but it does make the pain somewhat more endurable. After my husband and I got married we moved out to Seattle and stopped for several days in Glacier National Park. It is a beautiful place. We hope to go back again.
My dream park to visit is Yellowstone. There is a half marathon that is near the park that I would love to do. (Although after running at the altitude in the Black Hills, I am reconsidering that.)
This year is the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the first park and so the parks are encouraging people to visit. There is even a special program where 4th graders get in free or something. I overheard (and I totally eavesdropped that they are going to continue the program next year. I’m excited because I will have 2 4th graders.)