East Berlin Journals

2006 Trip - Part 1 - IA, Badlands + Rushmore

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An August 2006 trip to East Berlin by creekland

Badlands Inn Photo, Badlands National Park, South Dakota More Photos
Quote: The Western US is so different from the East - and a great place to explore. This is the beginning of our 2nd trip exploring around the US (Iowa to South Dakota in Part 1). For obvious reasons, the rest will be divided into different journals...

Badlands Inn

Hotel

Badlands Inn Photo, Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Quote:
Badlands Inn is where we opted to spend 2 nights while at Badlands National Park. We had two rooms there - and found adequate accommodations with air conditioning, a great view, wonderful proximity to the park, and a very friendly staff. We had reservations a few months in advance - and suspect they may have been needed as there are only 18 rooms here (all non-smoking). Other than Cedar Pass Lodge (which is run by the same company and was already booked by the time we made reservations), Badlands Inn is the closest you can stay to the National Park. It is located just south of the Interior Entrance (located off the Rt 240 loop road - take Rt 377 towards Interior). The view of the Badlands ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 6, 2006

Badlands Inn
20615 South Dakota Highway 377 outside Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park, South Dakota 57750
(701) 225-9510

Pleasant Creek State Rec Area - Iowa

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Attraction

Pleasant Creek State Rec Area - Iowa Photo, Palo, Iowa
Quote:
This is one of our favorite campgrounds... we were driving through Iowa with no reservations of any sort - and opted to try a state campground. We found this one from a book retrieved at the Visitor's Center when we entered the state and we were definitely pleased with it. We stayed on a Saturday night in August - and there were still places left to choose from - though not many. They have 69 sites - some with hook ups - and some are available by reservation though half are first come first served. There were plenty of tenters and campers/RVs of all sizes when we were there. There were many families - all pleasant - and none loud - esp overnight. The cost for a tent site was a mere $11 - an...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 5, 2006

Pleasant Creek State Rec Area - Iowa
4530 McClintock Road
Palo, Iowa 52324
(319) 436-7716

Badlands National Park

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Attraction | "Badlands National Park - South Dakota"

Badlands National Park Photo, Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Quote:
Interested in a 240,000 acre area filled with incredible rock formations, wild animals such as Buffalo/Bison, Prairie Dogs, and Bighorn Sheep, and many hiking trails? Then you're in for a treat at Badlands National Park. Located a little over an hour east of Rapid City (and Mt Rushmore) it's well worth going to. The rugged, stark beauty is astounding. The park is divided into three sections - the northern one being the most accessible - right off Rt 90 with a beautiful car driving loop going through it. Near the eastern entrance is the Visitor's Center - worth a stop to begin your visit. There's a well-done movie explaining the park and it's critters - and other exhibits to meander around. Natura...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 5, 2006

Badlands National Park
25216 Ben Reifel Road
Badlands National Park, South Dakota 57750
(605) 433-5361

Badlands National Park

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Attraction | "Notch Trail - Badlands National Park (SD)"

Badlands National Park Photo,
Quote:
Notch Trail is a 1 1/2 mile (round trip) hike near the eastern entrance to the park. It's a very pretty trail giving folks a good insight into the Badlands. It does, however, have a bit of elevation change - and a huge - maybe 40' - cable and wood ladder that needs to be negotiated - meaning this hike is not for everyone. Remember, what goes up has to come down... We chose to do it before my mom joined us on the trip... and none of us "younger" folks had problems with it - but know yourself and your family. These aren't steps, it's an almost vertical, and not "solid/steady" ladder. To those who do this hike, you're rewarded with a nice meander through - and up - one of the many canyons in the Bad...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 6, 2006

Badlands National Park
25216 Ben Reifel Road
Badlands National Park, South Dakota 57750
(605) 433-5361

Door & Window Trails

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Attraction | "Door & Window Trails (Badlands NP)"

Badlands National Park Photo, Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Quote:
Door, Window, and Notch Trail are all located at the same parking lot trailhead (near the Northeast Entrance - North of the Visitor's Center). I did Notch separately, but will combine Door and Window here. Window is a short, handicap accessible, trail providing everyone a chance to get into the Badlands - at least a little bit - to see them outside your vehicle. At the very least, do this trail - though it will undoubtedly be crowded. Door is one of my favorite trails in this park. (Notch is the other.) The Park Service calls this a moderately strenuous walk, but we don't. We consider it a barely intermediate hike... however, maybe that's because we hike a good bit more than the "average...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 6, 2006

Door & Window Trails
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Cliff Shelf Nature Trail

Attraction | "Cliff Shelf Nature Trail (Badlands NP)"

Badlands National Park Photo, Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Quote:
Cliff Shelf Trail is located between the Visitor's Center and the Notch/Window/Door trailhead. From this trail you can see where you were if you tackled the Notch Trail earlier - just look up and back... It's a 1/2 mile trail that climbs (and descends) 200 feet or so in a loop - going through both wooded prairie and the edge of the dry badlands themselves. We saw mule deer while we hiked - and assorted other small critters. This is an interpretive trail and you do yourself a disservice if you don't buy the guide to read as you go along (50 cents or borrow it). Since we had 4 boys with us (mine and my nephew) we let them take turns reading at the different stops. The guide explains the flora, faun...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 6, 2006

Cliff Shelf Nature Trail
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park, South Dakota 57750
605.433.5361

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

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Attraction | "Mt. Rushmore"

Mount Rushmore National Memorial Photo, Keystone, South Dakota
Quote:
Mt Rushmore - pretty much everyone has seen it in pictures - and it's a top vacation destination in South Dakota. In fact, that's the whole reason it was built/carved - to increase tourism. It does its job well... and it's always fairly crowded (during tourist season anyway). It's "free" to get in, but costs $8 to park - even if you have a National Park Pass. That doesn't sit particularly well with us, but I suppose it's how they guarantee getting money... Expect a short hike from the parking garage to the monument. We've been there twice now having stopped there two years ago on our first western trip, and then considering it important enough to take my nephew and mom to see it this time. Had my...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 7, 2006

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
13000 Highway 244
Keystone, South Dakota 57751
(605) 574-3171

Bug Lover Photo,
Quote:
No review is worth much unless you understand the perspective of the one giving the review - otherwise, how do you know if you would agree or disagree? Should you see the sight - or will you be bored silly? So... more about us - and this trip. We're a family of 5 (hubby, myself, 3 boys) and are Eastern US dwellers - having been born and lived in this section of the planet - from NY to FL (and some states in between) our whole lives - thus, our perspective. Our boys on this trip were 14, 12, and 10. It's our 2nd trip out west (didn't know about these reviews after our first one two years ago). Some places we visited were repeat visits and many were new. Our preference is seeing new places. We get ...Read More

Iowa

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Story/Tip

Green Fields Photo,
Quote:
What? A road trip to National Parks and one of the journal entries you see is "Iowa?" What gives? Well, on our first trip out west we missed Iowa. It was the only mid-western state we missed. We simply couldn't fit it in without a lot of time out of our way and we had limited time (just a month on that trip). Folks that had been there told us it was just like the other states so we should cross it off anyway... we weren't expecting much... and certainly weren't expecting what we found. Iowa is pretty!!! And no, it's NOT just like the other states - at least - not from our experience. We entered from the Southeast - at Davenport - drove to/through Cedar Rapids via highway, then went off highway ta...Read More
Hello Neighbor? Photo,
Quote:
In pretty much all of our travels we learn (by experience) some important tips that we always pass on when people ask us (in person) for advice. It only seems appropriate to add such an entry here too. This is mainly for those who live in the east - or perhaps anywhere but the rural west - who are contemplating taking a similar road trip out there. If you live in the rural west, perhaps you'll be amused - or say to yourself, "duh," but read between the lines and maybe contemplate what the east is like? For our definition of "rural west" we're mainly considering west of the Mississippi, but looking at a map, perhaps these tips best apply for states west of Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, etc. The defini...Read More