The Black Hills & Badlands National Park (Summer 2020)

After months of quarantine, our little family of four (plus our over-sized dog) decided to make a road trip to South Dakota’s Black Hills National Forest and the Badlands National Park. The Black Hills National Forest is about 8.5 hours from Lincoln, so it’s a day’s drive, which meant that we didn’t need to worry about staying overnight anywhere in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. We found a cozy little cabin and spent a long weekend hiking, horseback riding, playing card games and just relaxing. It was nice to get away, even if the circumstances were unusual.

This was our first trip to the Black Hills, and we were really impressed with the dark pine forests, the excellent hiking and climbing, and the fresh mountain air. The focus of the trip was spending time out in nature and with each other, and we were all happier for it!

We took one morning to do some horseback riding, which we all loved. W and N got the chance to make some equine friends and we all enjoyed exploring the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve with great views of Black Elk Peak and the Elk Horn Ridge. We rode with the team from the Stables at Palmer Gulch and would highly recommend the experience!

We also spent some time in Custer State Park, particularly at the southern end of the park, which is home to one of the world’s largest publicly owned bison herds. (Fun fact: we don’t have buffalo in North America but rather bison. Buffalo have beards and are native to Africa and South Asia.) The bison were fantastic and even created a bit of a traffic jam at some points along the road.

After a few days in the Black Hills, we headed home through the Badlands National Park. The Badlands rock formations are other-worldly. Jagged rock formations with stripes of all different colors rise right out of the prairie. We didn’t stay long in the Badlands but it was definitely a highlight of the trip!

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