Roadtrip 2012: The Badlands to Spokane Roadtrip 2012: The Badlands to Spokane Roadtrip 2012: The Badlands to Spokane
Travel mess
[20-Jun-2012] We were supposed to go from Jax to Atlanta, to Kansas City, to Minneapolis to Rapid City with about an hour between in each place. The flight leaving Jax was held on the runway for 20 minutes because Atlanta was backed up at 8:30am already. Kansas City sucks. What little food there is is outside security, its a miserable place that clearly isnt designed for modern travel. Came in late to Minneapolis because of the weather. Missed the flight to Rapid City. We were put on a 10pm (rather than the 5pm) flight and were at the gate 10 minutes before it left but the gate agent was off doing something else and they closed the plane and wouldnt let us on once she finally returned. Had to stay over night in Minneapolis.

Day 1: Scenic, SD
[21-Jun-2012] Was told we were on a 7:30am flight and we had seat on it but when we showed up in the morning there wasnt a 7:30 flight. Had to wait till after 9:00 to take off. Got handed a brand new rental car with 8 miles on it at the airport.

Stopped to do a cache on the way to the badlands, took a picture of the place but for some reason didnt bother to look for the cache itself. Went into a little store, the only store for a few minutes then continued driving into no where.

Day 1: Badlands

Drove into the prairie portion of Badlands then north up Conata Basin Rd. Whole lot of nowhere.

Stopped at a little picnic area near the end of the road. Then started climbing in the actual badlands, The Yellow Mounds are really pretty.

Travel further up and get to the upper prairie on the left the badlands and lower prairie on the right. The badlands are really just the transition between the two. They arnt very wide. The road through them goes back and forth between the upper prairie and the lower and I hiked a trail that climbed the wall itself at one point.

Did a geocache. Eventually we got to the visitor center. Came back for a fossil talk (really geared towards kids). Back to the visitor center. Then up to the Prairie Homestead and back for sunset and the night program.

Day 1: Prairie Homestead
[21-Jun-2012] Killing time between doing stuff in Badlands and sunset. Just north of the park is a sod home prairie homestead. White prairie dogs live on the grounds.

Day 2: Getting lost in the Black Hills
[22-Jun-2012] I put a bad place into the GPS and it took us the scenic route through the Black Hills to Wind Cave. Looks like it was trying to take us to a back entrance but it was under construction so we had to go around. The area was really pretty but slow and winding. Part of it was through the Custer State Park.

Day 2: Wind Cave
[22-Jun-2012] Wind Cave is full of boxwork a calcite formation that looks like:

Day 2: Crazy Horse Monument
[22-Jun-2012] Not finished. Wont ever be finished.

Day 2: Mt Rushmore
[22-Jun-2012] Spent more time there than I thought we would. Walked around the trail at the base of the mountain. Saw the artists building.

Day 2: Keystone, SD
[22-Jun-2012] There is a steam train that goes up the mountain. We saw it as we passed but we couldnt get on it. Checked the next morning too but it doesnt do the early morning run a deisel does so we skipped it.

Day 3: Custer's Camp
[23-Jun-2012] Custer led an expedition into the Black Hills and discovered Gold. There is a geocache at the site where his expedition camped that I stopped to find. Took the hardest way to find it. Up and over two rock formations. Only took about 15min.

Day 3: Jewel Cave
[23-Jun-2012] Jewel Cave is just a national monument not a park but I think its much better than nearby Wind Cave. The crystal formations are much more interesting and the tour we went on went though several diverse areas and was much more interesting that the Wind Cave one where all you see is boxwork. Below is the bacon strip formation. Had to wait an extra 20 minutes for the tour because a really annoying guy was going on the 10am one and did not want to be several hundred feet underground with him for an hour.

Day 3: Devil's Tower
[23-Jun-2012] Devil's tower is kind of out of the way but there are nice views going to and from it. Walked around the whole thing and saw several climbers and the old ladder from the 1800s.

Day 3: Driving
[23-Jun-2012] Most of day 3 way driving from South Dakota, across Wyoming into Montana to stay at Billings. We did stop at a rest area do do a geocache but I didnt go into the high grass by the river to look for it. I was wearing shorts and it looked to likely there were snakes in there. We did stop for a cache at the Fetterman Massacre Monument right at sunset. Really pretty place, the monument sits up high and looks down on a river valley. Lots of birds, bees and wildflowers. Cows could be heard mooing down in the valley.

Day 4: Little Bighorn Battlefield
[24-Jun-2012] Was at the battlefield in time for it to open since I anticipated a lot of people with the reenactments going on in the area. Listened to a very good talk by a Ranger of how the battle progressed. Looked at the monument and drove the 5 miles down to the other end of the battlefield where the bluffs were. Custer was an idiot. There is no way he could have not seen what was happening and what was going to happen.

Day 4: Little Bighorn Reenactment
[24-Jun-2012] This wasnt so much a reenactment as a bad high school play. Taps is played at the end not the beginning of a reenactment. Reenactments dont start almost 70 years before and give a history of the area and they actually try and recreate the battle not run around in circles and have some guys die. The battle itself lasted about 10min. The reenactment lasted about and hour.

The reenactment was really out of the way too. 5 miles outside town you turn onto a gravel road, then drive over a mile behind a ridge to where the seating and the mall, a 6 stall single line setup of vendors was. No shade, no sutlers just local artsy vendors.

A lot more driving afterwards. 8 hours across Montana to Glacier national park.

Day5: Glacier: Many Glacier
[25-Jun-2012] Spent the whole day in Glacier National Park at Many Glacier. Got mom a boat ride on Swift Current Lake and then went and hiked up to Apikuni Falls and around Swiftcurrent Lake.

Many Glacier

Apikuni Falls

Swift Current

Day 5: Waterton, Alberta
[25-Jun-2012] Spent the afternoon driving up to and visting Waterton Park in Alberta. I think it was nicer than Glacier, more wildlife, even in the little village. It had a little village you could actually get food and cell phone service. Saw a moose on the way, ducks, deer in the town, a fox, mom saw a red fox. Cameron falls and did 2 geocaches in the town.

Day 6: Glacier: Going-to-the-sun road
[26-Jun-2012] Got woken up at 6am by hail. Thought about getting up and hiking to iceberg lake. Went to the hotel lobby to check on the weather first. Couldnt get it because the internet was down. Got drenched on the way back to the room.

Most the day was driving Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan pass. Its was overcast all day once over the pass rained and hailed some more. Going up wasnt bad and we spent about an hour at the top of the pass. The weather going down was miserable and we really didnt stop to take photos.

There was a little snow on top the pass

Day 6: Lake Mcdonald Lodge and Avalance
[26-Jun-2012] Got the hotel in Apgar and left room reading while I went back out in the drizzling rain. Went back up the length of Lake McDonald to the Lodge and did a geocache: GC9859: Old McDonald had a Lake. Went further back up toward Logan pass and started on the Trail of the Ceders which let to the Avalanche Lake trail, a two mile hike to a glacier lake and then back. The trail was clearly flooded in places and had to be redone. The lake was rather disappointing. It looks much better in pictures. Then there were the crazy people up there fishing in the rain. Saw a bear crossing the Avalanche Creek bridge on the way back but the camera was dying so no good photo.

Lake McDonald Lodge

Avalanche Lake

Day 7: White Water Rafting
[27-Jun-2012] Went rafting down the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. The provided wetsuits because the water was only about 46 degrees. Put in at the Paola river access because the river was high and running fast. We avoided most rapids all morning because it was cloudy and cold. After a BBQ lunch on a small island we went into the John Stevens canyon and hit more rapids. Near the end passed under the Old Glacier Bridge now rebuild as a pedestrian bridge. We got out at the new bridge about 25 miles from where we put in. The stretch is several class II and III rapids, we avoided the one class IV jaws.

Day 7: Apgar
[27-Jun-2012] After the raft trip went walking around Apgar where we were staying for a while. Also took some photos later of sunset, the view that was forced upon us by the hotel room.

Day 7: McDonald Creek and higher
[27-Jun-2012] Apgar was boring. Started drving back up Going to the Sun Road. Took a side road over a one lane bridge and then hiked a trail to McDonald Falls. Came back to the main road and got photos of the same falls and Sacred Dancing Cascade.

Kept going back up Going to the Sun Road all the way to the tunnel with the viewports taking pictures I didnt take on the way down because of the rain. The tunnel is really cool. Its got a sidewalk inside and two holes carved to the outside world so you can look out over the valley. Water pours down the openings in the rain making the lower one impossible to get into unless you want to get wet.

Day 8: Koontenai Falls and Bridge
[28-Jun-2012] Most of the day was driving across what was left of Montana and the Idaho into Washington. Stopped at Koontenai Falls for the falls and a pedestrian suspension bridge. Found an unexpected cache there since there was cell service. GC2V8ZV: Wheeling Around - Kootenai Falls Rest Earthcache. Stopped at a planned cache GC8AB1: 10,000 years ago in the North West after lunch. Ended the day in Spokane and flew out the next morning after just over 2000 miles of driving.

Roadtrip 2012 Badlands to Spokane
[07-Jul-2012] Everything is up now at /photos/roadtrips/2012