Badlands - Teddy Roosevelt National Park
I began my journey from Grand Forks, ND and wanted to drive as far as possible in the first day. I bought a National Park Pass, so to maximize its use, I stopped at Theodore Roosevelt N.P. in North Dakota. North Dakota is flat and dry throughout much of the state and I don't enjoy it. If you talk to a native North Dakotan, watch out! They vehemently defend their state! Once you get to the western side, things start to improve.
The Badlands are nice to drive through, and this park has a nice loop drive, too. So I drove the 35 mile loop and saw wild horses, bison, coyotes, and prairie dogs. I was excited to see a wild horse so near the road, usually they are up on the ridges and you don't get a good look at them. And then I had to share the road with a large bison! Usually I drive with my windows down, but being so close to him, I rolled them up for safety. You never know what they'll do. About halfway through the park, I realized I was driving on Empty and spent more time worrying if I'll make it to a gas station than actually enjoying the park. But I did make! The town of Medora is also known for its musical, although I've never seen it.
I camped in Montana the first night, and a couple nearby told me I had to drive the Oregon Coast. It wasn't orignally in my plans, since I was doing mostly geology stops and parks, but I decided to add it anyway.