Over the last few days we have driven on some of the most scenic roads in the country. Scenic driving has its drawbacks especially when you are the driver. Our first journey was from the Badlands to Black Hills. We started off on the Sage Brush road in the park. This was exciting because we got our first glimpse of a buffalo. As we got further into the park and away from the crowds the amount of wildlife increased. We saw deer, big horn sheep, prairie dogs, and antelope. We eventually found the herd of buffalo who were right by the road.
We took the route across the prairie which is unpaved and unmarked. It gave me a glimpse of what it might have been like to go across the prairie as a settler. It is a bit unnerving to drive and drive and drive and see no people, buildings or landmarks. At one point we came to an intersection and maps weren’t real helpful. I turned on Tom Tom and she had an idea so we listened to her. Of course, about five miles later she told us turn left into the middle of a field. When I ignored her she kept telling us to turn around when possible. We found our way out of the prairie and into the Black Hills.
We drove from Wind Cave to Mt. Rushmore. I was now psyched because we were on paved roads through prairie so I could pick up the pace. This ended when we actually hit the hills. The roads were narrow and twisty. It was hard to enjoy the scenery when I was worried about driving off a cliff or having someone drive into us. There were so many switchbacks I lost track…why can’t they just make straight roads?!!? At one point we were in a section called pig tails which were corkscrews. We just kept circling around and around to go down in elevation.
Our drive from South Dakota to Cody, Wyoming was very long and again scenic. We started off on route 90. Out here the speed limit is 75 MPH…woohoo! But, we dropped off onto route 16 which is the way to Yellowstone. They mark the road like it is just a short trip from route 90 to Yellowstone. I estimate it will be about five hours. Route 16 took us through Big Horn National Forest. Which was beautiful. Again we were driving up and down mountains and these were MUCH bigger. The landscape changes dramatically from prairie to mountain to semi-desert. All of sudden a town will be plunked in the middle with populations ranging from 100 to a few thousand.
We are now in Cody which is the gateway to Yellowstone. We are staying for a day because the town has a a lot of western history. It was founded by William Cody “Buffalo Bill”. We will explore the old west history and see a rodeo. Yehaww!! I have never seen a real rodeo before!