Memorable Moments in Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota

Custer State Park | Image by Sarah Vernetti

My family and I just returned home from a trip to Colorado (mostly Denver), Wyoming (mostly just passing through), and South Dakota. Sure, we flew into Denver, but we also managed to put 1,000 miles on a rental car. We checked off two more states in our quest to eventually visit all 50, and we saw some interesting things along the way. Here are the highlights, as conjured up by my slightly overwhelmed, not quite fully caffeinated brain…

My daughter and I took turns holding a tarantula named Rosie at Denver’s Butterfly Pavilion. Since we’re both super skittish about spiders, it was quite an accomplishment. Rosie felt much softer than I expected. I would almost go so far as to call her cute. Almost.

Also at the Butterfly Pavilion, we watched butterflies being released for the first time after emerging from their chrysalises, and one of them landed on my daughter. It did not want to leave. Although my daughter was thrilled at first with her new buddy, she started to get a little annoyed that the butterfly wasn’t moving on.

We went to a Rockies game at Coors Field. It was a high-scoring game lasting almost four hours, and we stayed until the final out.

On the drive from Colorado to South Dakota, we passed through Wyoming. Along the way, we ran into (literally) a bird who didn’t move quite fast enough to avoid our windshield, we spotted someone’s cows who had wandered onto the highway, and we stopped in Cheyenne for lunch at the little Luxury Diner.

In South Dakota, our first task was exploring the town of Custer. I love small towns that have personality and are still home to plenty of locally owned businesses. We also visited Mount Rushmore on a very rainy morning. In fact, we decided to swallow our pride and buy those corny, unfashionable rain ponchos so that our visit wouldn’t be uncomfortable. We got a good look at the four famous gentlemen, but just in time. Within minutes, Mount Rushmore was hidden in a veil of fog. We took a rather rainy stroll near Horsethief Lake before heading to the nearby town of Keystone.

The highlight of our time in South Dakota was our afternoon at Custer State Park. Luckily, the sun came out and we were able to explore the park by car and paddle boat. The park consists of many winding roads and very narrow, one-lane tunnels, so the drive left us breathing a sigh of relief when we returned to the nice, wide streets of Custer.

When we returned to Denver, we took a side trip to Golden, Colorado to ride an alpine slide. This was a new experience for all of us. We took a chair lift up to the top of the hill, and then rode sleds down a concrete track. Afterwards, we left for the airport, experiencing the first round of post-trip malaise. Returning to the real world is always a little tough.


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