Bad To The Stone: A Road Trip From The Badlands To Yellowstone (& Jackson Hole)

From The Badlands To Yellowstone, Wyoming

Taking inspiration from the “Black To Yellow” route dreamt up by the folks over at Visit Wyoming & Visit South Dakota, our Wise Guides put a little spin on things with our “Bad To The Stone” road trip route & itinerary. Starting in the beautiful Badlands of South Dakota and ending in Yellowstone National Park, our Bad To The Stone road trip will have you packing your bags. Check out our highlights and must-see, must-do stops along the way!

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Badlands National Park

This striking South Dakota landscape boasts a maze of buttes, canyons, pinnacles and spires. The surreal vistas are studded with skeletons of three-toed horses and saber-toothed cats, along with many other fossilized species found here. The park’s 244,000 acres is chock full of wildlife that can often be seen while hiking, camping and traveling the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway.

It would take about one hour to drive the 39-mile loop of South Dakota Highway 240 between the towns of Cactus Flat and Wall without stopping, but almost no one does that. Breathtaking rock formations and native grasslands filled with numerous species of plants and animals guarantee you’ll want to pause somewhere along the route to enjoy the view. There are 16 designated scenic overlooks that make for outstanding photo opportunities.

Discover more about Badlands National Park 

Check out this blog on 8 Things You Can’t Miss On Your First Visit To Badlands

Crammed for time? Check out this article on 4 Hours In Badlands National Park

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Mount Rushmore National Monument

“…Let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and rain alone shall wear them away.” – Gutzon Borglum, Mount Rushmore Sculptor, 1930

America’s Shrine of Democracy, Mount Rushmore National Memorial features the 60-foot faces of four great American presidents who represent the birth, growth, development and preservation of this country. Open year-round and located near hotels, the park includes a half-mile walking trail, museum, gift shop and dining room.

Discover more about Mount Rushmore 

Check out this Ultimate Guide To Mount Rushmore (& Things To Do Nearby)

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Black Hills National Forest

The timbered mountains of the Black Hills National Forest continue 10 to 40 miles beyond the South Dakota border, west into Wyoming and cover an area that is 125 miles long and 65 miles wide. Visitors will find rugged rock formations, canyons, grasslands, streams, lakes and unique caves. Recreational opportunities for visitors include 11 reservoirs, 30 campgrounds, two scenic byways, 1,300 miles of streams, 13,605 acres of wilderness, over 450 miles of trails and much more.

Discover more about Black Hills National Forest

Check out this blog on 7 Unexpected Things You’ll See In The Black Hills National Forest

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Devils Tower National Monument

This iconic monument is a unique and striking geologic wonder steeped in Native American legend, and a modern-day national park and climbers’ challenge. Devils Tower sits across the state line in northeast Wyoming. The Tower is a solitary, stump-shaped granite formation that looms 1,267 feet above the tree-lined Belle Fourche River Valley, like a skyscraper in the country. Once hidden below the earth’s surface, erosion has stripped away the softer rock layers revealing the Tower. 

Discover more about Devils Tower National Monument

Check out a few things to do at Devils Tower

Big-Tepee-Creek-in-Wyoming-Bighorn-National-Forest

Bighorn National Forest

Located in north-central Wyoming, the Bighorn Mountains are a sister range of the Rocky Mountains. Conveniently located halfway between Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park, the Bighorns are a great vacation destination in themselves. No region in Wyoming is provided with a more diverse landscape – from lush grasslands to alpine meadows, from crystal-clear lakes to glacially-carved valleys, from rolling hills to sheer mountain walls.

Visit the Bighorn National Forest and enjoy the multiple reservoirs, 30 campgrounds, four group campgrounds, three scenic byways, 10 picnic areas, eight lodges, miles and miles of streams, 189,000 acres of wilderness, 1,500 miles of trails, and much more that provide a special recreation experience.

Learn More about Bighorn National Forest

More things to do in Bighorn National Forest

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Yellowstone National Park

It was the world’s first national park and is one of America’s most famous thanks to the Old Faithful Geyser and Grand Prismatic Spring. Millions of visitors come to Yellowstone every year to see the iconic, otherwordly geothermal features, plus the diverse wildlife including grizzly and black bears, wild bison, wolves, and more. Not to mention the giant waterfalls, bubbling mud pots and the largest concentration of active geysers on Earth.

From the east entrance to Yellowstone, you can either take the loop to the north or south depending on how much time you have. You’ll come across some iconic spots along the way, before heading out the south entrance towards Jackson. From here, take a beautiful drive through Grand Teton National Park, past Jackson Lake and along the base of the Tetons. Finish your journey by checking into Mountain Modern Motel in downtown Jackson, WY.

Discover more about Yellowstone National Park

Check out our Wise Guide’s Ideal 5 Day Trip To Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

Less time? Here’s what to see on A Quick Trip To Yellowstone

If you’re visitng in winter, here’s the Perfect Winter Day Trip To Yellowstone National Park

So there you have it! We hope you liked our Bad To The Stone road trip itinerary from the Badlands to Yellowstone, and that this inspires you to visit this incredible area of the country soon.