After we left City Museum in St. Louis we got snacks out of our cooler and hit the road. We had 6 hours of drive time ahead of us to get to Council Bluffs, Iowa (right outside of Omaha, Nebraska).
We were on the highway by 2:00 PM, like we had hoped to, and would have made excellent time, except we had rumbling stomachs that wanted a real meal, so we decided to make a pitstop in Kansas City, Missouri.
At my sister-in-law’s recommendation we stopped at Jack Stack Barbeque. They had over an hour wait on a Monday, but we were able to snag a bar high top which was first come first serve.
We all were super impressed by our meals! Kaitlyn had the hotdog (she’s easy to impress), Hailey went with chicken strips and had some of my ribs (usually she is more adventurous but had a stuffy nose that was making food less exciting for her), mom went with the Harvest salad and baked potato (loved it), and I went with the pulled pork and rib combo (delicious!).
After dinner we finished the trek to our Marriott Courtyard hotel. It was a beautiful sunset! We arrived, made the rounds through the shower, and all crashed hard into bed.
This morning we all felt well-rested when we got up at 7:15 AM to pack it all back up and move on down the road. We had a 6 hour stretch to start the day off to get us to Badlands State Park.
We all were feeling fresh and filled the time by listening to our Wingfeather audio book, searching for license plates, drawing, singing silly songs (Hi, my name is Joe…), staring at the endless fields of sunflower, and answering would you rather questions from this book (which is simple and silly but the kids loved it). Soon enough, we were in South Dakota!
We crossed yet another time zone and arrived around 2:00 PM local time at Badlands National Park.
Coming through South Dakota there was SO much we wanted to see and I had to make myself accept that we wouldn’t be able to see it all. So we prioritized the best we could and figured we could squeeze Badlands National Park into this travel day. After all, the girls are really into collecting Junior Ranger Badges now, after our trip to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
We pulled in, snapped a picture at the sign, and headed straight to the Visitor Center to get the Junior Ranger Book. We only had one trail on our “must do” list because we were short on time- The Notch Trail, which is a 1.5 mile out and back moderate to strenuous hike.
It was 98 degrees out (according the car) when we parked at the trailhead, but we didn’t let it deter us. We filled up our waters and went for it!
The description was correct; it was moderate to strenuous. It included a steep ladder to climb and walking beside some steep drop offs, but it was on the shorter side, which made it a great choice for us- adventurous but not too long in the intense heat.
On the hike we saw a huge Big Horn Sheep perched majestically up on a ridge. It was super cool because we didn’t spook him at all and we were able to really get a good look at him.
Afterwards we walked the boardwalks to the Window Trail which had a beautiful view of the chasm. We tried to go back by the Visitor Center to get the badges for the girls but it was closed. I was super glad the ranger had given them to me earlier so I could present them to the girls after the finished their tasks.
We squeezed as much as we could into those blazing hot 2.5 hours, then we had to load back into the car to continue on. We have 1.5 hours left to drive today to get to Custer State Park (South Dakota) where we will be staying the night.
I’m super proud of how we’ve all been hanging. It’s a lot of driving for sure, but it’s going quite well and it’s so much fun getting to see parts of the country I’ve never seen before. Onward…!