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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mount Rushmore To Yellowstone Vacation

Above, Mount Rushmore National Monument. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you cannot afford to go to Japan or just want to take a vacation this summer a little more closer to home, I have a suggestion.

This vacation involves camping, but if you aren't the camping type, you can still do it by staying in hotels or motels.

Back in 1990, I took my family on a camping trip (I had a tent trailer at the time) through some of the prairie and Rocky Mountain states such as Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and South Dakota.

We began the trip in Los Angeles and drove through central Utah for our first night's stay at a KOA Kampground in Lyman, Wyoming. In fact, all of our stays were in KOA Kampgrounds. While in Lyman, we toured Fort Bridger.

From there, we went across Wyoming to another KOA near Fort Laramie for the second night's stay.

Then, the next morning, we drove into South Dakota and stayed at the Mount Rushmore KOA near the Mount Rushmore National Monument. It was a bit crowded at the time as the annual Sturgis, South Dakota biker rally was taking place. We never saw so many motorcycles in our lives.

While in South Dakota, we toured Mount Rushmore National Monument, visited the under-construction Crazy Horse monument, rode a steam locomotive and visited Deadwood, South Dakota and took a tour of the town and the cemetery where Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane are buried.

Above, Devil's Tower National Monument. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After South Dakota, we headed through northern Wyoming to Devil's Tower National Monument. Devil's Tower is best known for being featured prominently in Close Encounters of The Third Kind (1977). Speaking of Close Encounters, there is a KOA Kampground near the entrance to Devil's Tower National Monument that screens the movie nightly during the summer vacation months.

From there, the plan was to go to the George Armstrong Custer battlefield at Little Big Horn, but we encountered some strong winds that caused some damage to the trailer. So we headed straight to Yellowstone National Park and stayed in a cabin at the West Yellowstone KOA (thank goodness we already had reservations there and they had a camping cabin available).

Above, Upper Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We toured Yellowstone National Park and then headed down to nearby Grand Teton National Park before heading back to Los Angeles.

If you don't mind driving and want to see a lot of historical places and great scenery, I heartily recommend making this circular vacation route.

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