SUMMER ROAD TRIP, DAYS 9 & 10
We had our first blunder of the road trip! We were supposed to be leaving South Dakota today and had no idea!
Day 9 – Leaving Custer State Park
We hit snooze today on our usual 6 AM alarm clock, planning to have a day of relaxation. We’ve been so busy with long days and sightseeing, we were planning on taking a day to swim at one of the lakes in the park. Thankfully, my husband saw the alert on my phone an hour later that said Sheridan, meaning check out of Custer State Park and spend the night in Sheridan on the way to Yellowstone National Park.
We both had it in our heads that every stay, with the exception of Washington and Nebraska, were 7 nights long. Well, we were wrong! Our visit to Custer State Park was only six nights!
It is our first time packing up and taking down the pop up so to say it was a mad dash to get everything going is an understatement. Thankfully, it went smooth and only took a little over an hour to get everything situated.
On the way out, we stopped in the town of Custer to do laundry. We found a nice laundromat right next to Family Dollar in downtown Custer with free coffee and Wi-Fi. Then, we were on our way to the next overnight. Yay, a hotel!
Our take-away today on long-term travel: when planning a cross-country road trip, staying organized is important. Duh!
Driving from Custer State Park to Yellowstone National Park
We chose Sheridan as an overnight on the way to Yellowstone, only 220 miles and 3 ½ hours from Custer, because we wanted to drive through the Bighorn National Forest in north-central Wyoming. We planned on going through the northern section today and the southern section tomorrow.
We had two dilemmas: time and come to find out the northern section is too steep to bring the trailer. We thought we could drop the trailer off at the hotel and head through, but we didn’t get to the hotel until 6 pm. The route said it would take a few hours so we decided against it.
We bought our groceries and bear spray at Walmart (Yellowstone is bear country), went out to dinner and enjoyed Wi-Fi instead. We will just have to cope with seeing the southern section via US 16. In hindsight, it probably would have been better to book a night in Buffalo. So learn from our mistakes if you’re planning a trip yourself!
*TIP: Only purchase bear spray before your trip if you are driving, it is not allowed on airplanes.*
Day 10 – Scenic Drive through Bighorn National Forest
Conveniently situated halfway between Custer State Park and Yellowstone National Park, the side trip to Bighorn National Forest was well worth the extra day. Founded in 1897, Bighorn is one of the oldest government-protected forest lands in the U.S.
Elevation begins at 5,000 feet along the base of the mountains and rises to 13,189 at the peak. A sister range of the Rocky Mountains, we not only drove through glacially sculpted peaks and valleys but incandescent prairie lands and rolling hills.
We meandered through the diverse landscape slowly, stopping for pictures every couple of miles, so our arrival into Yellowstone wasn’t until dusk. Bighorn National Forest is gorgeous!
Next Stop: Yellowstone National Park
Miles Driven the Last 2 days: 500, Total Miles Driven: 2,128, Average Gas Price per Gallon: $2.44, States: South Dakota & Wyoming
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