Friday, 4 August 2017

On the Road to Mount Rushmore

Leaving Durango, we took a slow and easy drive to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, spread over several days and where we could, taking the less busy roads. First stop was to be Grand Junction and getting there would take us high up and through the Rockies, passing Silverton along the way. Here's the route for the first day.

We didn't stop at Silverton, but we did at Ouray, which likes to think of itself as a bit of Switzerland in the USA.

Mountain scenery heading from Silverton to Ouray
Looking down onto Ouray on the road from Durango & Silverton
The really good bit about driving a monster RV in the US is that you can stop and park wherever you like. And if you take up three parking spaces, then that's fine. The downside, though is that if you are on a meter, you have to pay for all the spaces. But on the other hand, they really like tourists around here, so you'd probably get away with it...

Numerous old buildings remain and add to the character

Main Street. It is rather hilly!
Leaving Ouray, the route varies from mountainous and forested to open plain and took us into Grand Junction where we found our campground for the night. Tonight it is going to be another KOA site. Some of these seem to get a bad press, but this one is great. It's next door to the State Fairground and close to a busy road, so it might be different at other times, but while we were there it was great with very friendly staff and a good plot for us to use overnight.

Heading away from Grand Junction, we travelled by Interstate to the small town of Rifle where we headed north and up into more mountains. Here's the route..

Our destination was Steamboat Springs, a ski resort and we were visiting in mid-summer. It wasn't on the original plan, which was for us to head to a State Park to the north for some chill out time. But we discovered that this entailed 60 miles or so on gravel roads, so a rapid replan took place before we left home. We were staying again at a KOA, but any hopes we had of this being like the previous night's stop were dashed. It is old, a little run down, cramped and things just don't work as they should. So can't recommend this one - but it is the only choice in town.

In its favour, though, it is on a free bus route into town, so off we went to explore. We are at one end of town and the main ski resort area is at the other. So we took the bus to "our" end of town and went for an explore. That didn't take long...

Downtown Steamboat Springs
A block back from the main drag, we find a river and go for a stroll:

And now, having exhausted the attractions of the town, we think that we'll head off to the ski resort and see what is there. Even if the answer is "nothing", we can take the lift up to the top of the hill and admire the scenery. What was there? Nothing! And the lift was closed for maintenance. Great...

OK, so back into town and find somewhere for lunch, which turned out to be a pub:

That was an improvement! After libations and refreshments, we head back, taking in the town museum along the way. There was a large display on Butch Cassidy, who had "connections" with the area.
Ann relaxing on the porch of the museum building
And then off on the next bit of the journey, following this route. It was a long journey, climbing even higher into the mountains until we reached the Wild West town of Laramie. Here we took a break at the only tourist place we could find, which happened to be the local prison. Actually, it was interesting and worth the stop. It's claim to fame? It's most famous inmate was one Butch Cassidy

Mountain scenery along the road to Laramie. Notice the snow - and this was late June!

Wyoming State Prison at Laramie

One of the cellblocks at Laramie. Despite popular opinion, there are modern prisons in the UK that are not much different to this

And so eventually, we arrived at the KOA in Douglas, Wyoming, our stop for the night. This one was quite OK. Just a short drive now towards Mount Rushmore tomorrow. Here's the route. We found ourselves at last on decent roads! Wyoming and South Dakota have proper roads with smooth surfaces!! A stop at Walmart in Rapid City for victuals and we were set up for the next 4 nights. And the car we had rented was waiting for us. A *bit* smaller than our RV, but it will do very nicely...

Next time, we'll go to Mount Rushmore, then to Deadwood and then in search of some wildlife.

If you have enjoyed looking at these pictures and others in this blog, they are available in higher quality and resolution at my gallery where you can purchase prints, artwork and gift items.

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