Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Trip Report Tuesday // South Dakota & Wyoming Trip 2021 Day 1

Welcome to a fresh new addition to my Trip Report Tuesday series!  This summer my family enjoyed a beautiful getaway to the Black Hills of South Dakota and ventured into Wyoming for a National Park visit too.  Throughout the month of July I plan to recap it all right here.  I invite you to take a "virtual vacation" through these posts and perhaps you'll pick up a recommendation or two if you ever plan a trip to this area someday too!  

South Dakota & Wyoming Trip 2021

Day 1 - Wednesday, June 16, 2021

We woke before dawn and hit the road just in time to catch the stunning glow of the day's sunrise.  

We only get McDonald's breakfast when we're heading out on vacations.  It's become a yummy tradition over the years.  My bacon, egg, and cheese McGriddles hit the spot.

Falls Park
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

My husband is great at trip planning!  Something he does well is planning rest stops at the most beautiful places.  Our first stop, Falls Park!

Falls Park is a beautiful place to hop out of the car and stretch your legs with a walk among these wonderful natural waterfalls.  Just a few hours from where we live, it's been a "first stop" for us along many road trips.  Each time we visit I find myself saying, "We should really make this our destination for a day trip sometime!  We could pack a picnic and spend the day relaxing near the waterfalls."  We'll see if a return visit ever happens to find its way into a Five Loves on Friday post soon too!

My oldest daughter kept Falls Park at the tip top of her faves from this entire vacation.  Sometimes you don't have to travel too far to hit a highlight!

Lunch Time

We stopped in Mitchell, South Dakota to pick up a bite to eat from Culver's.  I tried their pretzel haus pub burger and loved it!

Chamberlain Rest Area

This was another destination-worthy rest stop!  We got out and strolled upon a trail that led to a lovely lookout.  Thankfully we didn't see any poisonous snakes!

The Dignity statue, 50' tall, was quite a sight!

After a nice walk and talk and a bit of sightseeing we headed inside to use the restroom, not realizing all that we'd find just beyond these doors!

It turns out this building is in an historical spot.  A museum style set up inside offered us the opportunity to read and see much more about that once we stepped inside.

A replica of Lewis and Clark's keelboat welcomed us to climb aboard to learn more about their transportation and trading.

Here's a peek outside on an observation deck.

Refreshed, we hit the road where the scenery grew more beautiful by the hour.

Badlands National Park
Wall, South Dakota

South Dakota was a favorite vacation destination for my family throughout my childhood.  Ever since my very first trip, Badlands has marked the "We're here!" moment.  This park holds many memories for us and it's always wonderful to return to this picturesque place.

Bighorn sheep roaming in Badlands National Park.

I love seeing flowers growing in unexpected places.

101 at 1:01 ... little things like this make me smile.

Just outside the Badlands we passed through Buffalo Gap National Grassland where we enjoyed seeing wildlife relaxing in the sunshine.

Dinosaur Park
Rapid City, South Dakota

This is a park that my parents brought me to as a child every time we vacationed in South Dakota.  I have since taken my own family here during each of the half a dozen trips we've made to the area.  Massive dinos and a cute little shop (plus a clean bathroom to use as we make our way through Rapid City) brings us back each vacation.

"Little One" has collected a handful of these tiny dinos each trip.  She hasn't outgrown adding to this cute vacation collection despite growing well into here teens, which I love!  Notice she's wearing her tee from Dinosaur at Disney's Animal Kingdom specifically for this occasion. :)

The past couple of trips "Princess" has found a cute ring in this gift shop.

Dinner on the Road
As we made our final drive to our hotel we decided to grab dinner from Qdoba to eat on the road.  Chips and queso for the girls and burritos for my hubby and I.

I didn't want to arrive with salsa all over myself, so I made a blanket of napkins beneath my burrito - ha!

Spearfish Canyon Lodge
Savoy, South Dakota

This was our first time staying at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge, but Lord willing it will not be our last.  We absolutely adored this place!  Here's a peek at our room.  Then I'll take you on a tour of the lodge's lovely lobby and grand grounds.

Our window looked out at the cutest footbridge and seating areas along Spearfish Creek. 

I could hardly wait to lounge on one of those wooden adirondack chairs you can see in the left side of this snapshot.

As I unpacked a bit, the fam rested after a long day of travel.  Little One enjoyed reading up on the breed of dog she's about to be the proud owner of later this month!

Jason ventured out of the room solo to fill a bucket with ice as I got us all settled in, stocking the bathroom with our toiletries, etc..  Once I finished he could hardly wait to show me around, knowing I'd love this place!  

The hallway from our room let out to the cutest seating area that overlooked the lobby.  I didn't snap a pic, but they also had board games and all sorts of fun things to do on a cute shelf up here.  

Later we saw a mom and daughter playing Jenga and bursting into laughter as the blocks came tumbling down.  It was definitely a sweet spot for one on one time!  We opted to simply snap a quick selfie before stepping down to the charming lobby. :)

While the photos likely won't do it justice, this lobby is beautiful!

As you may be able to spot out the window across the street from the lodge, they rent out UTVs here.  It's a really popular spot for off-roading.  We considered renting one for the following afternoon, but they were all reserved.  We hope to return and explore in a new way next time around!

The bear carvings found throughout the lobby reminded me of similar decor we saw throughout our California travels.

Just beyond the lobby we came upon Roughlock Lounge (named after the Roughlock Falls you'll see in an upcoming trip report).  Here guests can grab drinks, flatbread pizzas and meat & cheese plates.  Across from the lounge they have a cute gift shop.  

Soon we headed outside to explore the lodge's grounds.

This snapshot shows the backside of the lodge.  Our room is the one with the light on in the middle of the second floor.

This was such a picture perfect sight that I told Jason I'd like this scene in puzzle form!  :)  Any other puzzle lover's out there?

Relaxing creekside with my love was oh so nice after a full day of travel.  

The water was so clear you could see the trout swimming by.  

After a little R&R we decided to cross the footbridge and explore a trail.

It may be a little tricky to make out in this photo but there was a rushing waterfall here, the sound from which did my heart good!

When we headed back to the room my youngest, now rested, was eager to see more of the place herself, so I gave her a little tour.  She was taken with the beautiful raised wooden ceiling of the lobby.  It really did add to its grand feel.

Soon we found our way to the rocking chairs out front and enjoyed a little mom/daughter rock and talk.

After our oldest daughter dozed off, Jason made his way out to catch up with us girls outside.  Little One asked if the lounge had anything to eat.  When she heard "pizza" she pleaded for it.  For the first time in my life likely, I almost passed on pizza. (Ha!)  I immediately told her, "We already had three meals today!"  But then Jason joined her, reminding me that we woke up at 4am, it had been for a very long day and she added the phrase that trumps all, "We're on vacation!"  Off to the lounge we went.

An ice water for our girl and a couple summery drinks for the hubs and I as we awaited the yumminess.

Getting the pizza was a good, cheesy choice. :)  We chowed and chatted about the highlights of the day.  It was definitely a day well spent and by this time we were all spent.  Off to bed we went.  A big, adventurous day filled with new experiences was just a night and sunrise away!

Thank you so much for visiting today!  I hope to see you back here next Tuesday when I'll be sharing about one of my favorites of this trip, Devils Tower National Park!


  1. What a sweet trip! There's nothing better than setting out before sunrise for a fun-filled vacation! Looking forward to more beautiful photos and trip reports!

  2. No one does a trip reports better!! I am so looking forward to more trip reports 😊

    1. Thank you so much, Eden! Sweetest comment ever!! I appreciate it and look forward to sharing more in the weeks to come! :D

  3. I love the sunrise and the waterfalls! And visiting a place you've been in the past is so nice.

    1. Aren't they beautiful?! We enjoyed so many lovely waterfalls throughout this vacation! I can hardly wait to share more in upcoming TRT posts!

  4. Yay I'm glad to see your trip reports back! It's amazing how much beauty is in the midwest! I had no idea some of these places existed! My sister-in-law and her family just moved near Sioux Falls, so we will definitely have to check some of these places out in the future! Can't wait to hear more about your trip!


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