I finally convinced my boyfriend Andrew to take some summer holidays for once! We try to go to Dauphin, Manitoba every year for Country Fest with my parents so this year we decided to take a bit of a road trip through the states on our way to Dauphin! If you’ve been following my Instagram posts lately, you would have seen that we got a truck tent and we have been getting into camping recently! We are trying to be more adventurous and find some hobbies that we can enjoy together and this has been the perfect solution. On our trip through the states, we decided to camp in some state parks along the way. Here’s our tent set up and the route we took on our road trip this week!
DAY ONE- THUNDER BAY, ON TO MINNEAPOLIS, MN
We started Tuesday morning with a “quick” drive down to Minneapolis. I managed to get some pre-sale tickets to one of my favourite social media personality’s comedy shows this night. Andrew did NOT want to go with me but sometimes we sacrifice things for the ones we love :). It ended up being a really great show and I was happy to see Girl With No Job finally! We stayed at a really cute Airbnb close to the Convention Centre. It was an old historic mansion and was super cool. On the way down to Minni, we stopped and got some groceries for the next few days and I also topped up my T-Mobile card and popped my U.S. SIM card into my phone that I used in California in April. Now we have unlimited data for a GPS!
We stopped at Minnehaha Falls along the way to our place for the night. It was so neat to walk through the park and see a waterfall right in the middle of the city.
We also walked through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden after the show. It was really pretty walking through during sunset! We go to Minni all the time and we’ve never gone here before so I’m glad we did something new this time.
DAY TWO- MINNEAPOLIS, MN TO CUSTER STATE PARK, SD
We go to Minneapolis all of the time, so it was really just a starting point for today’s long day of driving. We drove straight across South Dakota through Badlands National Park. Then we got to the Black Hills and camped for the night at Custer State Park.
Before driving through the Badlands, we stopped at a place called Wall Drug. It’s the largest drug store in the world and it’s known for free ice water and 5 cent coffee!
The quirkiest thing about Wall Drug is the hundreds of signs you see for it along the highway. There had to be one every mile and we laughed every time we saw another one. You basically HAVE to stop here or you would feel wrong not doing it. We bought a silly little magnet as a souvenir then continued on our drive to Custer State Park…but we took a detour to drive through Badlands National Park.
This is a super neat National Park and I highly recommend taking the hour long detour through here if you have the chance-plus you get to cross another National Park off your list! The vistas are unreal. We stopped to take so many pictures. Andrew loved all the steep rocks and all the layers of erosion that were visible (can you tell he’s an engineer?). I loved the wildlife and the Longhorn sheep and bison that we saw while driving. It reminded me a lot of Death Valley National Park but without the desert. One other thing I’ll mention before I show you some pictures is how nice it was travelling during the week. It wasn’t very busy in the Park and it being a Wednesday probably had something to do with that.
I was obsessed with the bison on the side of the road. It was super hot outside so we chugged some Gatorade (bless you plug-in cooler) then continued on to the Black Hills. Our camp site in Custer State Park was only about an hour away from here. When we got to the entrance of the State Park we were a little sad that we had to pay an entrance fee on top of the price we already paid for the camp site. But what can you do! On the drive through the park to our campground (Sylvan Lake), we saw 2 bison, an elk and I think 18 deer! (Please excuse the dirty windshield of the truck).
We were all set up, had dinner and cleaned up just as the sun was setting. I love our tent. It’s so easy to set up and now that we have the foam roll instead of an air mattress, it’s much less stressful and way more comfortable to sleep in.
DAY THREE- CUSTER STATE PARK, SD TO FORT ABRAHAM LINCOLN STATE PARK, ND
We woke up early (5am?) To do some exploring around the Black Hills. We saw Mount Rushmore, Deadwood, and Sturgiss along some of the coolest highways. Yesterday was a very long day so we cut driving time a bit shorter today and stayed at a state park in North Dakota!
We showered and packed up camp then had a nice breakfast at Sylvan Lake where our campground was.
We started our drive with the Needles Highway and drove south to the 18 mile Wildlife Loop Scenic Drive. The Needles Highway was THE coolest. Some of the tunnels we drove through were insanely narrow and I was nervous that our truck wouldn’t fit. The Wildlife Loop was really pretty but we only saw some deer, one bison and a group of burrows. I drove that loop and to Mount Rushmore so there aren’t as many pictures of that part of the drive.
Then we looped back up Iron Mountain Road. This road was so winding. It reminded me of Sequoia National Park with some of the 180 degree turns in the road. I took my time driving and I’m so glad we got an early start because by the time we reached Mount Rushmore, it was so busy on those roads and I felt safer on straight ones for sure!! The coolest thing about Iron Mountain Road is that you’re driving and all of a sudden you drive through this tunnel with MOUNT RUSHMORE visible through the other side!!!! There’s also a scenic overlook that you can stop at too for a good view.
Okay. So Mount Rushmore was mediocre for us. There are people everywhere. You pay $10 for parking and then walk up to the monument. We were so hot and the crowds were making us irritable so all we did was take some pictures and then leave. If circumstances were different, I would have liked to walk the trail right up to the faces. We were just fine snapping some pics and continuing on so that’s what we did. I’m glad I can say that I saw it and it’s pretty amazing what the sculptures made here. I wonder if we would have a greater appreciation for it if we were American maybe?
For those wondering, no we did not go to Crazy Horse. I am getting cheap lately and I refuse to pay $30 for parking to see a head sculpture. I completely appreciate the art in it all but it’s just not for us so we gladly skipped it. I don’t regret it at all.
What we DID stop for was a little walk around a town called Deadwood, South Dakota. We sadly left the Black Hills and National Forests and pulled into Deadwood. It’s an old Western town with a ton of history that we are naïve to. I really liked seeing all of the old buildings and saloons along the main street. We stopped for a local beer in a bar where this cowboy Wild Bill was apparently shot in.
If you are into this sort of thing, I’d highly recommend doing a little tour on one of the many buses along the main street. We were happy to just walk around and stretch our legs. We continued on our drive through Sturgiss where a huge motorcycle rally is held every year in August. We drove past the huge Harley shop and some big bars which was neat. We continued on for about 4.5 hours to North Dakota where we stopped to camp for the night at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. Our camp site was right along the Missouri River and we loved sitting and watching all the pontoon and fishing boats go by us while we relaxed.
DAY FOUR- FORT ABRAHAM LINCOLN STATE PARK, ND TO DAUPHIN, MB
Today is the day we drove back to Canada for our weekend of fun! Last night we stayed at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. Today we are driving straight up North Dakota to Dauphin with a quick stop in Riding Mountain National Park. Hopefully we see some more bison!
We were up really early again to the lovely sound of rain on our tent. We packed up so fast and began the boring drive through the prairies back to Canada.
Through Riding Mountain National Park, we saw one little bear and stopped to see Clear Lake which is WAY bigger than this picture shows. We got to Dauphin and met up with my parents for a weekend of fun at CountryFest!
DAY SEVEN- DAUPHIN, MB TO THUNDER BAY, ON
Today we are driving home! We had an amazing weekend partying at Country Fest. We are exhausted from this week and can’t wait to relax on the long drive home before heading back to work tomorrow!
We saw so many great acts including Jason Aldean, Brothers Osbourne, Old Dominion, and Toby Keith. We had a nice prairie thunder storm to interrupt the Saturday night but other than that the weather was perfect.
And that’s that!!! It was a great vacation but we are sick of driving now! We put 3800km on the truck this week!
I hope you enjoyed reading!