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Today the Jenkins family set out on a two week journey to cover several of the national parks in the upper mountain time zone including the Badlands, Custer State Park, Spearfish Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Glacier.

The journey began with an early flight out of Philadelphia on Delta, connecting without incident through Minneapolis, and arriving early into Rapid City, South Dakota. The flights were enjoyable, including free wifi and movies on the first leg, and after a truly brief stop at the Alamo rental desk we were on our way.

Next up, Wal-Mart for some supplies. We can confirm that no matter what part of the country you are in, 60 registers, 2 open.

We arrived at the Badlands National Park, specifically Cedar Pass Lodge, where we checked into our cabin with two queen beds and an air mattress. It’s air conditioned, and cozy, with a mini fridge and microwave, flat screen TV (although we haven’t turned it on) and a rustic wood décor. Loading all of our gear inside was a snap as parking is literally right off of the front porch. Out back, there’s another porch with some comfy wooden chairs and a beautiful view of the rock formations that make up Cedar Pass.

Anxious to try out our new hiking boots, we stopped at the visitor center for some advice and settled on the Notch Trail. It’s about a 1.5 to 2 hour round trip with some great views of the rock formations. About halfway through the hike there is an awesome wooden ladder to scale and the hike culminates with some great views of the valley. There were warning signs for rattlers, but thankfully none were seen or heard. There were a couple of ledges along the way, but nothing too treacherous. We returned to the car just in time to beat an incoming storm back to the lodge where we had a great dinner.

After we ate, Josh and I headed back out to try and catch some sunset pictures and had a little fun playing with the camera. All in all, we had a great first day. Tomorrow, we’ll hit a few more picture spots here at the Badlands before its off to Wall Drug, a gold mine, Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park.

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