We had a great start to our family vacation! After flying into Denver Monday afternoon, we drove to Cheyenne, Wyoming and stayed the night. We awoke Tuesday morning and drove about four hours to Wind Cave National Park. I told Jason that I felt like my head was on a swivel as I was trying to take in all of the beauty around us. We were scheduled for a cave tour that required long sleeves, long pants, jackets, and laced up hiking boots. It was about 90+ degrees outside, but we knew that the cave would be a cool 50+ degrees. We booked a Candlelight Cave Tour about a month ago and were excited to be in a small group of 10 people with a tour guide. We had a great time exploring the cave for about 2 hours. Our tour guide, Hannah, was awesome with the kids. Jackson kept her busy with questions and exploration. She really held his attention and even let him do a few extra things. She told me that we might have a future “caver” on our hands! For the majority of the tour, candlelight was our only source of light. It was really cool and adventurous. At one part of the tour, we all blew out our candlelights. It was sooooo dark! I was amazed at how challenging it was to walk through some places in the cave and to think that a 16 year old boy explored the cave with only a candlelight and a ball of twine. Of course, I gave a history lesson of the cave to the kids on the ride out and it only made it more interesting to all of us.
After leaving the cave, we drove through the park and found lots of animals. It was fun getting pictures of these beautiful creatures. We also drove through Custer State Park and the Black Hills. It was absolutely beautiful! We spotted all kinds of wildlife and even stopped in the road for a crossing of two pronghorns.
We ended the day with a stop at Mount Rushmore. After my parents and grandparents made a trip out west several years ago, this has been something I’ve really wanted to do. We arrived to Mount Rushmore around 7 pm. The sun was still pretty high and we made the most of our time and grabbed some pictures. We stayed for the lighting ceremony at 9 pm and we were so glad that we did. We learned more about the history of the monument, watched a video, heard from a park ranger, and witnessed the lighting ceremony. At the end of the program, all of the men and women that were active duty or retired military were called down to help lower the flag. It was a really cool moment for all of us.