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If you’re road tripping in the Southwest, be sure to make some time for Petrified Forest National Park. This unique park offers amazing views of the Painted Desert, and you won’t believe all the petrified wood you’ll see throughout the park. This national park has two entrances. Since we’d spent the night at Tucumcari, New Mexico, the night before, we planned to begin exploring the park in the afternoon when we arrived. For this first day, we entered from the north at the Painted Desert Visitor’s Center, just off of I-40. You may be wondering, was it really hot in July at about 3:00 p.m.? Yes, yes it was. Still, it was manageable when you weren’t in the direct sun. And the wind was much stronger than I would’ve imagined, so that helped with cooling. We didn’t do any long hiking trails. We stayed close to the beaten path and…

A few years ago, we visited Badlands National Park and stayed the night in nearby Wall, South Dakota, on our way to Keystone and Mount Rushmore. The park is gorgeous, and we loved spotting animals along the way. Badlands National Park is a must-do! Arriving at Badlands National Park Since we stayed on the prairie in a wagon on the Ingalls Homestead the night before in De Smet, we entered the park from the east, just off I-90. If you’d like to read about our night in the wagon, click here. We decided to take the Hwy 240 Badlands Loop Road to see the Badlands. We didn’t have to drive far to see some beautiful scenery. Wooden pathways lead to some mighty spectacular views! Sometimes, it looked as though the land went on forever. Ben Reifel Visitor Center at Badlands National Park Along the loop, we ran into Ben Reifel…

Last summer as we planned a short trip to Springfield, Illinois, we decided to take Kristin to see the Gateway Arch at the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis. Kristin had never been to the top even though we often pass the Arch on our road trips to various destinations. It’s a right-of-passage for Missouri folk; Kristin was on her way. Arriving at Gateway Arch National Park It’s pretty exciting when you can see the Arch as you get closer to the park. We followed the GPS and signs to get to a parking lot nearby. I would suggest getting tickets to go up inside the Arch before you arrive; they may run out of available time slots for the time you are there. We happened to get ours online the night before. We guessed about when we would arrive. We had a pleasant stroll from the parking area…

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