While Out West

3 weeks. 3 states.  1 National Forest. 2 National Parks. 1 National Memorial . 1 National Monument. 1 rock concert. 5+ cities. 1000+ photos.

That pretty much sums up my vacation last summer out west. It was the most eye opening and awe inspiring trip I have ever taken. You can take a million vacations to the beach and have a relaxing, sun-filled week, but how many times can you say you’ve seen three waterfalls in one day. Or a herd of 500+ bisons crossing the road right in front of you. Or 5 moose in a week, each about 20 feet away from you. Or cowboys trying to get a ton of cattle up the mountain by herding them with horses up the highway causing traffic to stop. Or spent the morning in the historic gambling town of Deadwood, South Dakota and then drove a few miles to see Mt. Rushmore and Badlands National Park all in one day.

The west is where America’s beauty lives. It’s not in St. Louis. The real beauty isn’t on the east coast or in the south. All of these places are too populated and urbanized. The beauty is in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and all the other states in that area. This is where the last bit of untouched nature lives. Mountains, waterfalls, rock formations, canyons, geysers, hot springs, rivers, wildlife, forests, history…the list could go on forever.

My sister and I spent a week and a half on our own with our Aunt in Buffalo and Sheridan, Wyoming. They are very small towns, but full of natural beauty and the old west feel. It sits in the Big Horn National Forest. Crazy Woman Canyon is in the area as well, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

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Crazy Woman Canyon

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Moose in Big Horn Moutains

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Overlook of Big Horn Mountains

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Veteran’s home pond looking out at Big Horn Mountains

From there we went to Montana and visited Yellowstone National Park. There are so many things to see in the park. We saw the main sites like Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring. The park is full of natural wonders that are nothing like you have ever seen. Bubbling hot springs that plunge into darkness some 100 feet deep, waterfalls in the middle of the forest or off a canyon, and herds of bison and numerous elk around every turn. The amount of tourists there are also overwhelming. It was always a struggle to take my photos without having people in them.

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Near the Grand Prismatic Spring

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Grand Canyon

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Mammoth Hot Springs

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Tower Falls

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Hayden Valley

Devil’s Tower was another sight unlike any other. It takes over an hour to walk around the giant rock formation and each step you take you become even more in awe of how this formation occurred over time. It literally looks like it was pushed out of the ground with the vertical lines down the sides and the millions of rocks surrounded the perimeter.

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Devil’s Tower

Mt. Rushmore should be on everyone’s bucket list. I thought I wouldn’t like it that much. I figured I’ve seen it in photos and I get it, some presidents carved out of stone. I’m not dying to see it. Well I was wrong. It was amazing to see in person. The heads are much more massive than they appear in photos. Learning about the construction of it was so interesting.

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Mt. Rushmore

Badlands National Park was probably the most obscure park we saw all trip. The whole area looks as if you are on a planet in Star Wars. There is really no other way to describe the park other than the photos.

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Badlands

If you love the outdoors, traveling, hiking, sight seeing, nature, wildlife and pure amazement, then you MUST plan a trip out west. See if you can do it all in one trip. It was a challenge, but my family did it. Then again, we are a bunch of vacation freaks. We drove straight home to Shiloh without an overnight stay from Badlands National Park in South Dakota. But that’s another story.

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