Eerie Ghost Towns and Rainy Plains: USA Road Trip I

This is part 1 in a series of images from my recent road trip across the USA. See part 2 here.

This past May, one of my best friends, Mélissa, and I took a 5400km-long road trip from Toronto to Vancouver through the USA.

South Dakota travel photography

It was beautiful.

When you drive through a place, you seem to develop a bond with it, much stronger than when you fly straight to a destination. It’s like a friend that you meet and get to know, slowly and consistently. At first, you get a general impression, but the more time you spend with them, the more you start to notice details and quirks and character. You may even fall in love after a while, as was the case for me and Montana and for my friend and South Dakota.

Today’s post takes us back through the first 4 days of our trip:

Chicago travel photography

Our first day, at 12 hours of driving from Toronto to Chicago, was the longest of the trip.

Chicago travel photography

Chicago downtown photography

We were on a tight schedule, so our time in Chicago was limited to under 24 hours. We still loved it.

Chicago skyline photography

Most of our drive through the American Midwest (Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota) was extremely windy and rainy and cold.

When we arrived in Okaton, a ghost town in central South Dakota, the weather was just gray and dark enough to make it supremely eerie.

Okaton ghost town

Okaton ghost town

ghost town interior

ghost house interior

Ghost town grass

South Dakota ghost town

South Dakota Okaton

Okaton ghost town

ghost town railroad

And just when you thought it couldn’t get more creepy:

Okaton creepy house

Our next rainy stop was Badlands National Park, a beautiful, rugged land made up of channels of old eroded sedimentary rock (that slightly resembles slices of medium-cooked roast beef).

Badlands National Park

We explored the park near nightfall and had it entirely to ourselves.

Badlands South Dakota

South Dakota Badlands

South Dakota Badlands

black and white South Dakota Badlands

South Dakota Badlands details

As we went further west, the weather started to cheer up. These are the Black Hills in South Dakota.

South Dakota Black Hills

Mélissa and I adapting to our surroundings.

South Dakota ranch

And giving it our best rendition of the honky tonk!

Part 2 of the trip, including Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone and the West Coast, will be up on Thursday morning. Be sure to check back!

black and white South Dakota Badlands

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Tips on Traveling Safely with Cameras

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Snowy Mountains and Geyser Sunsets: USA Road Trip II


  1. mel
    June 24, 2014 at 12:58 pm — Reply

    I love the ghost town! Those places do seriously creep me out though. Do you know what happened there for it to become deserted?

    • June 24, 2014 at 1:49 pm — Reply

      We read that it was built by railroad workers when a railway was being built from Chicago, but everyone moved further west to keep working on it. There are still about 29 people living there though… not quite sure where among all the crumbling homes!

  2. June 25, 2014 at 1:35 am — Reply

    Beautiful pictures, but without a picture of the Corn Palace, this seems incomplete! =)

    Also, I miss South Dakota!!!!

    • June 26, 2014 at 2:36 pm — Reply

      I know! It just didn’t seem to fit among these images, what with the tackiness and all 😛

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