The area west and south of Rapid City is home to several national and state parks as well as the famous and frequently photographed Mount Rushmore. While Mount Rushmore draws a huge number of visitors every year, visiting this area and skipping the rest of the region would be like swinging through Paris to see the Eiffel Tower and visiting nothing else. The park areas around Mount Rushmore include large tracts of land where Bison roam freely, one of the largest caves in the world, unique geological landscapes not found anywhere else in the world, and fun cultural and historical attractions.
This summer, we’re headed west on a road trip through the U.S. and Canada. As the founders of BudgetYourTrip.com, our true passion lies in travel, but it’s been awhile since we’ve been able to “get out there.” Beginning in June, for three months we’ll hit the road on a family camping trip visiting the big cities, national parks, and everything in between. And yes, we’re taking our 3-year-old daughter with us.
Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is one of the best preserved medieval cities in the U.K. with their 12th century castle and medieval architecture found throughout Old Town. You can easily spend a weekend exploring the winding streets with their hidden alleyways and climbing up to mountain top viewpoints. Use this weekend tour as your guide to get the most out of everything Edinburgh has to offer.
Though it was August, Lassen’s peak had just a touch of snow and ice remaining—its white crown prominent over the kingdom of earth below. I turned to look at the world beneath me. Stretching across the horizon I could see other peaks in the Cascade Range faded blue in the distance and spotted with pine trees.
From Devils Tower we drove west across much of Wyoming, seeing nothing but fields. Fields, fields, fields, some hay bales, an endless stretch of road, and more fields. What I did not realize was that we were also rising, approaching small mountains on the horizon. It wasn’t until we were up on the mountain’s side that I realized how high we had risen. So high that we could see the line of haze where the atmosphere of the great big sky touched the vast green fields of earth below. This was a god’s point of view, and we could not help but stop for a few moments to take in the view.
Known as “the marvelous city,” Rio de Janeiro is one of the hottest travel destinations in the world, and the most visited city in all of the southern hemisphere. Nature lovers and city slickers alike can find something to enjoy in the various terrains Rio has to offer, from its mountains and rain forests to the beaches and concrete playground of the city center. With the Summer Olympics quickly approaching, the costs to visit Rio de Janeiro are expected to skyrocket.
It was mostly on a whim that I decided to climb the three highest peaks in the U.K. while visiting there last summer. Mount Snowdon (3,560 ft.), Scafell Pike (3,209 ft.), and Ben Nevis (4,409 ft.) are scattered throughout Wales, England, and Scotland. Completing the U.K. 3 Peaks Challenge ended up being one of the most incredible travel experiences I’ve had to date. Maybe it’s because I went into it with little to no training and still succeeded (which means you can too), or maybe it’s because I got to feast my eyes upon truly incredible and one of a kind views.
I can’t fully explain why we wanted to go to Mongolia. Of all the places in the world, most people would rather visit another country. Many of our family members were amongst those that politely asked why, and our answer was something vague, such as “It just looks interesting.”
Our trip would take us on a two month journey through China and Mongolia, of which we spent almost three weeks in Mongolia. Most of that time was spent on a 15-day tour of the Mongolian countryside in an old beat-up Russian army van, now re-purposed to carry tourists across the rugged terrain. We would spend most of our journey in this old nearly broken-down van while camping in the countryside, eating very fresh meat, and meeting the locals.
We arrived in China almost two weeks ago. The country has made a good impression so far. This is actually our second trip to China, our first being five years ago to the south (from Hong Kong to the Yunnan). After five years, this behemoth of a country is advancing in leaps and bounds. Economic growth can be witnessed everywhere. At the same time, ancient culture and personal experiences await around every corner.
After arriving in Beijing late in the evening, we found our hotel down one of Beijing’s many Hutong alleyways. These microcosms of Chinese culture, where locals live in close proximity to one another and share a tight-knit neighborhood, are slowly being torn apart and replaced with towering skyscrapers. Beijing as a whole is impressive. It’s huge and modern in some parts, but ancient and cultural in others. We visited Beihai park, where crowds perform Tai Chi in unison along the shore of an ancient lake with a modern skyline as a backdrop.
The Sinai Peninsula of Egypt is truly a fascinating place. During our time in the area, we spent a few days near Mt. Sinai and a few more relaxing on the coast of the Red Sea. First, our journey took us from Cairo on a fairly long bus ride to the town of Katreen, near the base of Mt. Sinai and St. Katherine’s Monastery. We slept at a small Bedouin camp and met some other travelers who had hiked to the top of the mountain the night before, starting at 2:00 in the morning. Supposedly this was the best time to hike in order to avoid the heat and also see the sunset from the top of the mountain.