bsmith922

Badlands
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Last fall, my wife and I planned on taking our kids (ages 10 and 7) on a Yellowstone trip, leaving from our home in Southern California. At the time that we planned the trip, we assumed that we’d have my 2021 Bronco Badlands by then, and I was fortunately enough to have it delivered on January 5th (I was a day 1 reservation). However, for the trip, my wife really wanted to take our Explorer ST since it’s a smoother, quieter ride, and it’s a bit larger inside. Fortunately, I was able to persuade her that we should take my Bronco and that it would be roomy enough and that it would end up being a comfortable ride. We figured the trip would be about 2,600 miles and about 40 hours in the Bronco, so it would be a great test of how comfortable (or not) it would be on such a long road trip.

So we set off for our trip to Yellowstone on June 11th, noting that there were some thunderstorms showing in the forecast, but we had planned to first stop for a day and night in Las Vegas, and then a day and night in Park City, Utah. On Monday, the 13th, we made the long trek from Park City to West Yellowstone, Montana. As we arrived, there was no rain at the moment, but there was a lot of commotion near the road to the entrance to Yellowstone Park. At about that time, we receive a text form a friend about flooding and roads being washed out. We got out and started talking to people and learned about all of the flooding and damage, particularly in the northern portion of the park. We knew immediately that the park would be closed for at least the next 2 days, so we would potentially be “stuck” in West Yellowstone with "nothing" to do for at least 2 days, or maybe longer.

So we had to scramble to decide what to do. We decided to make a leap, pack our things, and leave West Yellowstone to go see Mount Rushmore. From West Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore alone is about 580 miles and 9 hours, a huge addition to our trip that was originally unplanned, and that was just travel in one direction; we’d eventually have to make our way back south and west after a few days…

The morning of the 14th, we woke up to snowy conditions on our way out of town. We were lucky that the main roads and highways in the area were still intact and very safe. We did unfortunately see a few homes with water up to their windows in the Gardiner, MT area. We feel so bad for the people that were affected by what we've been told is a once-in-a-100-year storm.

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We eventually made it to Mount Rushmore the afternoon of Tuesday, June 14th, after 9 or so hours. Mount Rushmore was a great experience! The Bronco had been doing great so far, and everyone was comfortable, and it handled really well on the highway.

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After Mount Rushmore, we still had to figure out how to then spend the rest of our time in South Dakota. We did some Google searching, and my wife reached out to a friend who had grown up in SD, and all signs pointed us to taking my Bronco Badlands to BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK!!! I couldn’t have been more excited (and my wife couldn’t have been more annoyed by my excitement)!

Badlands National Park is an amazing sight to see, and I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face as I was driving through the park and stopping at every chance that I could to get a picture of my Badlands at its namesake park! I didn’t research (or do) any off-roading options at or around Badlands because I didn’t bring any recovery gear on our trip, and I was solo with just my family and didn’t want to take any chances when so far away from home. In any case, it was still a great experience!

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We made some other stops in SD (Crazy Horse Mountain, Custer State Park, and the Black Hills Caverns) before finding our way to Hot Springs, SD to stay overnight in a cool little cabin. On the morning of Thursday, June 16th, it was time to start heading west, to get back on track with our original itinerary. We had originally planned to go through the southern-most portions of Yellowstone that day and to then drive through Grand Tetons National Park. From Yellowstone, that would have been an easy hour-long drive or so, but from Hot Springs, SD, it was about 450 miles and over 7 hours.

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We drove through the Tetons, and they were quite impressive (and I even got to annoy my wife some more by taking some photos of my Bronco in front of the Tetons)! We then made our way down to Jackson, WY for the night.

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After Jackson, WY, on Friday morning it was on to Tropic, Utah, near Bryce Canyon. This leg of our journey was about 520 miles and 8 hours long. Again, the Bronco performed well on this long haul and there were no complaints about its comfort, ride, and handling. On Saturday, the 18th, we drove into Bryce Canyon National Park and enjoyed the amazing views. Much like Badlands, the rock formations and colorings we like something from a Star Wars movie. It’s truly amazing what water, ice, wind and time to do to a natural landscape. I didn’t get many pics of my Bronco here, but I did still snag one.

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After a picnic lunch (which was easy to set up using the tailgate table accessory) we left Bryce Canyon, we did some light off-roading on a trail that leads to Willis Creek Slot Canyon. At least I finally got to go off-roading on our trip, even though it was nothing challenging. It was still fun and the Bronco did great through the sand, gravel, and ruts! My wife and I had always wanted to walk through a slot canyon and this one did not disappoint! When we got back to our AirBnB, I rinsed off my baby and we prepped for our long ride home.

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Finally, on Father’s Day, June 19th, we drove from Tropic to home, another 489 miles and about an 8 hour drive. We stopped in Vegas for some lunch at In-n-Out, since it had been about 2 weeks since we had eaten at one of our SoCal favorites. After fighting through the infamous home-bound Vegas traffic, we finally made it home that afternoon, and of course the first thing I did after unpacking was to take my Bronco to the car wash.

It was quite an adventure and even though we missed out on our main goal of visiting Yellowstone National Park, we still found lots of other things to do and explore. The big bonus to me was being able to drive my Badlands through Badlands. Plus, now we have an excuse to take another similar trip in a year or two, when we feel that things will be settled down in Yellowstone and we can finally get to see all that it has to offer (and I can take a million pics of my Bronco there as well)!

  • 2021 Bronco Badlands
  • Non-Sasquatch
  • 2.7 L, 10 Speed Auto
  • Lux Package
  • MGV Seats / Washout Floors
  • MIC Top

  • States Travelled: CA, NV, AZ, UT, ID, MT, WY, SD
  • Total Trip Miles: 3,617.8 (includes driving through parks like Badlands, Bryce, etc.)
  • Total Trip Driving Time: 61:06:06 (includes driving through parks and some idling time here and there)
  • Total Trip MPG: 18.0 (I have a lead foot and generally drive at least 10% over the posted speed limit, lol, and I definitely took advantage of the 80 MPH Speed Limit in many of the states that we visited.)

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The Bronco did really well on the trip and my wife even admitted that I was right to push for us taking that vehicle on our trip. I found the seats to be very comfortable on the long legs of our trip, even more so than on the 2018 F-150 that I traded in for the Bronco. The 2.7 L provided plenty of power uphill and when passing. The transmission never seemed to wander for the right gear at any point, and there was plenty of pep and response when I punched it several times. The Bronco is a great road trip vehicle, and I can’t wait for future trips like the one that we just got back from!


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AZ_BRONC

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What an awesome trip! We’ve done AZ up through Bryce, Zion, Vegas, Moab, Yellowstone, Badlands, etc but not in the new Bronco yet. Planning a Yosemite and Big Bear trip. Can’t wait to see where this thing will take us over the next decade!
 

Irish Pete

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Wow… your story is really making me excited for the eventual time I get my Bronco… photos look amazing.. thanks for sharing
 

broadicustomworks

Badlands
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I couldn’t have been more excited (and my wife couldn’t have been more annoyed by my excitement)!

Badlands National Park is an amazing sight to see, and I couldn’t wife the grin off my face as I was driving through the park. In any case, it was still a great experience!
Give it time. That grin will be "wifed off" in short order.

I joke.

Never before has a typo had so much alternate meaning, I just had to.

In all sincerity, Amazing trip, great write-up, good pics.
You checked off several of my "Drive-to" locations on my personal list, glad to see some real pics of them from a "driving in" perspective.

Sucks about Yellowstone, I also feel for those people. It's a mess.

However, the silver lining is you got to see even more of the country and do some things you had not planned on.
 

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bsmith922

bsmith922

Badlands
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Give it time. That grin will be "wifed off" in short order.

I joke.

Never before has a typo had so much alternate meaning, I just had to.

In all sincerity, Amazing trip, great write-up, good pics.
You checked off several of my "Drive-to" locations on my personal list, glad to see some real pics of them from a "driving in" perspective.

Sucks about Yellowstone, I also feel for those people. It's a mess.

However, the silver lining is you got to see even more of the country and do some things you had not planned on.
Lol, good catch on that typo!
 

RedHotFuzz

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Great report! Glad you enjoyed your visit to my home state of Utah.

I find one of these invaluable for road trips where cargo space is limited but you don't want a rooftop box:

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Very easy to throw on and take off when needed/not needed and very inexpensive too.
 
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bsmith922

bsmith922

Badlands
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Great report! Glad you enjoyed your visit to my home state of Utah.

I find one of these invaluable for road trips where cargo space is limited but you don't want a rooftop box:

curt-tray-cargo-carrier.jpeg


Very easy to throw on and take off when needed/not needed and very inexpensive too.
We looked into getting one of those, but we did a test packing of the luggage that we figured that we'd bring and everything fit, with no rear visibility issues, so we figured we wouldn't need it. But we may need one someday as the kids get bigger, along with their clothes and luggage.
 
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@bsmith922

Way to make the most of an unplanned situation! Glad you got to see Badlands National Park. It's truly amazing, and I can't wait to take our Badlands, well, to the Badlands!

We're planning a big trip to the west/southwest at some point from Illinois, so thanks for sharing your story. I can't wait to get out of the flatlands to see our Bronco tackle terrain it was build to take on.
 

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RedHotFuzz

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We looked into getting one of those, but we did a test packing of the luggage that we figured that we'd bring and everything fit, with no rear visibility issues, so we figured we wouldn't need it. But we may need one someday as the kids get bigger, along with their clothes and luggage.
Even when we had a larger Durango we found ourselves running out of room quickly if any type of camping gear was involved or when we were hauling inflatable kayaks somewhere. The hitch rack has been invaluable. We got the biggest one Curt makes, which was around $130 when we bought it in 2016 and around $200 now (ugh). We used to have a rooftop box but it was a pain to put on and take off (so you end up leaving it on the roof all the time, killing your MPG) and a pain to load and unload gear. Not to mention how expensive they are. And the fact your detail guy might accidentally destroy it while pulling into his too-low garage after the wife has already damaged it pulling into covered parking at the mall (ask me how I know these things). :oops:
 

brentutk

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Awesome trip and summary! I was waiting for some bad Bronco mechanical news to surface when you said something like "At this point, the Bronco was doing well..." :)
 
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bsmith922

bsmith922

Badlands
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Awesome trip and summary! I was waiting for some bad Bronco mechanical news to surface when you said something like "At this point, the Bronco was doing well..." :)
Never had any mechanical issues at all, sorry if that line was misleading. Only a few Apple CarPlay connectivity issues a few times over 9 days, but they were always resolved by an iPhone reboot - so not sure if that's on Apple or Ford, but it was never really a big deal.
 

 
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