Road Trip USA 2022

From Denver to the Badlands

The next two days take us to Denver and then across Nebraska to the Badlands in South Dakota.

So we start in the morning from Colorado Springs in the direction of Denver. Only a few minutes away from our hotel is "The Garden of the Gods". We are content with a view of the towering red rock formations from a distance.

Garden of the Gods

Before we drive to downtown Denver, I show my parents an "Outdoor World". This is a merchandising world of outdoor, camping, and leisure merchandise on a typical American scale. Motor boats and quads/ATVs are also offered. So if you are traveling in the USA yourself and there is an "Outdoor World" nearby, just take a look.

Outdoor World in Denver Outdoor World - entrance area Outdoor World - sales area

Then we drive near the State Capitol and walk around the area. A music festival takes place in the park behind the Capitol and there are various museums in the immediate vicinity, such as the Denver Art Museum. Unfortunately a lot of things are closed because it's Sunday and Monday is Labor Day.

Colorado State Capitol in Denver art museum in Denver Probate Court in Denver

We then head towards Union Station. The district still has many historic residential buildings and there are areas that are beginning to be pedestrianized. An example is Larimer Street. There are restaurants, clothes shops and various seating options on the former lanes.

Since it's over 86 degrees (30° C) again today, walking through the city is of course tiring. Before we leave Denver again, we get a late lunchtime snack at the beautifully designed Union Station.

pedestrian area Larimer Street in Denver Union Station Denver suburban homes Denver

On the way out of the city, we drive a little through the residential areas of the suburbs, which are typically portrayed as in films.

I'm not exactly sure how to rate the city of Denver. According to reports, it is one of the most livable cities in the USA, but of course I can't evaluate that in just a few hours.

Before we head off to our overnight stay in Fort Collins, we would like to see the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. When we arrive, however, it quickly becomes clear to us that an event is taking place there today and that we can therefore cancel our plan.

So we drive further west on Interstate 70 and then drive a little further north through the Rocky Mountains. We also come to Central City. A cute little town in Bergen where gambling is allowed. As a result, various small casinos with slot machines are actually located on the main street. But the really beautiful thing is the "Western-style" house facades.

main street Central City (Colorado) main street Central City (Colorado) main street Central City (Colorado)

When we arrive in Fort Collins, it is already dark. We each get a slice of pizza for dinner and are out for the day.

The next morning greeted us again with the most beautiful summer weather. But today it's just "do the route". Our next destination is the Badlands in South Dakota. So there are 340 miles (550 km) ahead of us and well, there will be nothing to see except a lot of wide land. We drive a bit through Wyoming and then across Nebraska.

The vastness of Nebraska

Even if this sounds very boring and dull, this is also part of America. Exactly here, one becomes much more aware of the vastness. We drive hundreds of miles through pastures, sunflowers and cornfields. At many places, the question arises, how one can live here. It feels like the people here have built their homes in the middle of nowhere and it is not clear where they get food, water and electricity. It is simply a different world compared to the coastal regions.

Somewhere in Nebraska and South Dakota Somewhere in Nebraska and South Dakota Somewhere in Nebraska and South Dakota

We use the few small towns that we drive through for a short stop, stretch our legs and treat ourselves to a few snacks or a coffee at a gas station - just a road trip.

We are making good progress and are already in Interior at around half past four, where we have a room at the Badlands Motel & Campground.

Finding a restaurant today is easy as there is exactly one option - Wagon Wheel Bar. So we freshen up and are ready for dinner at 5:30pm. When entering the bar I have to smile a little. On the first bar stool sits a man who looks a little unkempt and looks like he's part of the inventory. Of course, the bar also has no windows and you immediately forget what time it is. Of course we are also immediately recognized as tourists and the question seems to be what we want in this area. The bartender, like most Americans, is very nice and chatty. He immediately recommends a beer and prepares us some good cheeseburgers and fries.

The Wagon Wheel Bar in Interior (South Dakota) The Wagon Wheel Bar in Interior (South Dakota)

Little by little more local guests come into the bar. They treat themselves to a beer and a few shots, feed the jukebox and the slot machines.

But everyone has already enjoyed a beer or two at home.

After a while we get involved too. A woman sits down with us and talks to us a bit. She is happy that we strayed into the area as tourists and tells us half of her life story. Her companion keeps trying to tear her away from us and asks her not to chatter to us. We think it's amusing and that's also part of a road trip. In between, they also buy us a round of beer, which is a bit embarrassing for us, since they could certainly use every penny better themselves.

After everyone has gone their round, they are suddenly all gone again. We also say goodbye and are a bit irritated because it's still light outside. So, as mentioned at the beginning, you completely lose track of time due to the lack of windows in the bar.

In August you could end the evening with a rodeo. Unfortunately, there will be no more from September. So I use the time for a little detailed planning for the next few days.

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