Day 19: South Dakota

We survived the ‘cabin’, but felt we were in a horror movie at times and had ourselves an adventurous day in the amazing Badlands National Park with only a couple hour drive to our destination. About 230 miles traveled for the day.

Somehow we were able to get some sleep in our plywood box. We showered in the campground community shower, what I can only imagine to be the slightest step up from prison showers, but hey it was running water so we can’t complain too much.

We headed over to the Badlands. A lot of people had recommended we stop here so we were pretty excited.. and it didn’t disappoint.

We stopped in at the main visitors center and got our cancellation stamp and map and headed into the park. We started off driving the main road and to a few side road views.

This place is incredible – the formations look so different depending on the time of day, the light at the time, if there are clouds. It’s a gorgeous site to see and you’re not quite sure if you’ve stopped at that viewpoint before.

We stopped in what they call Prairie Dog Town – surrounded by hundreds of Prairie Dogs and their homes. Just standing there listening to them all and seeing them all pop up and back into their homes was very entertaining.

When driving away we encountered a Prairie Dog on this dirt road. When we stopped to let him by, he stopped – When I drove, he started running. The little bugger was trying to race us. It was so funny and still makes me laugh as I write this. It’s also on video, but here’s a snapshot from it.

As we continued on we saw yet another Bison – this guy was rubbing his belly on one of the wooden stakes in the ground that they use as barriers for parking lots/pull offs.

Many of these posts are warn down from the Bison doing this – we also saw children climbing on them – soooo if you have kids and take them there .. be aware of the Bison belly rub posts and where those little hands go after touching that .. yum.

Chris was also able to see the mountain goats he was looking for!

We stopped at a small trail dedicated to educating readers/viewers about the history of the park and the various forms of life that lived here before and when the whole area was underwater.

We found it very interesting. They also displayed imprints of various fossils they have found throughout the years.

Sitting down for a lunch in the park we decided on a few hikes to do.

He even asks for no olives and still can’t avoid them. Haha

It was HOT out and here there is NO shade you are in direct sunlight the entire time.

The ‘trails’ are not long here at all, it’s the inclines and semi-rock climbing required that get ya. And at times you can’t tell if that’s where water ran down or that’s where the trail is, so you do end up going rouge, but eventually find some sort of trail marker.

Oh, and while there are no bears to be aware of, you’re often surrounded by some rattling sounds…….. 👀

The hikes/climbs are certainly worth it tho. We talked with an older gentlemen who had just come down from the trail we were headed to. He told us that no matter how long it takes him, he will always hike a small trail where he goes because it makes him feel a part of where he is. Especially here at the Badlands, he said you can read about the history and drive these roads all day, but you are never actually part of it, nor do you experience the whole thing unless you go out there and get in it.

And that man was right.

It’s humbling experiencing this country and the beauty of nature we often take for granted.

This view in the picture below:

Was taken from the very top of this point here:

Absolutely incredible.

The last hike we did was the Notch Trail which I had read about/seen on Pinterest so I was all about it. The trail guide said it’s not ideal for anyone with a dislike of heights. I’m super proud of Chris for stepping out of his comfort zones and conquering his dislike of heights this entire day. Anytime we reached the top of something he was the one wanting to push forward and go to the next level. That’s my champion husband right there.

Anyway, Notch Trail. Definitely do it. About mid-way in you get to this ladder, it’s no joke.

We both made it up, and that was pretty much the highlight of the hike right there for me, but you continue on – they caution you from taking this path after rain and we could definitely see why from the many spots marked ‘dangerous cliff’.

The viewpoint was breathtaking. It was so calm and peaceful.

Back down we went. If you don’t know us, Chris and I are VERY stubborn people, but in this instance – I out stubborn-ed everyone. Me: “I can do this I don’t need help” Chris: “I carried paint up and down a ladder for years I can carry the GoPro”

After making it a little over half way down on the ladder I decided why don’t I just walk down beside the ladder… yeah no don’t do that. Badlands mountains/formations/rocks whatever you want to call them are make up of gravel/smaller rocks. And all along the ladder (hence why they put a ladder there) are loose rocks. So when you stand on it, you slide, then you fall, and proceed to just slide your way down. In my case it was in my feet and butt so I consider myself lucky, but others are not so lucky when they attempt it.

Badlands: 1 (& the guy at the bottom who got a good laugh and witnessed the whole thing)

Jillian: 0

After hiking/climbing and sweating all day we mixed up some Rehydrates and hit the road.

If you’re a Gatorade/Powerade drinker or need some electrolytes in your life – check this stuff out (Rethink What You Drink).

This isn’t a huge national park you can cover pretty much everything in one day, although you definitely could do two. We really wanted to see the sunset as we heard it was an unreal site to see, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us this time. As Chris put it, this is a very simple park – it’s doable and the trails are (for the most part) manageable to do them all – but it’s worth the visit. It’s unique and hard for me to put into words, I loved it.

We hit the road and I was actually a little bummed to be leaving this one.

As we crossed back into Central Timezone it was a somber vibe in the car as we realized we were starting to loop back. After giving ourselves a few minutes Chris started researching our next few stops and we began embracing the journey again.

Gas Stop: Vivian, SD $2.79/gal

We got to our resting point, showered and headed out for dinner.

I just love bridges ..

Dinner was at Al’s Oasis, a unique old school Western experience. I love how all these restaurants on this side of the country have salad bars, I LOVE ME A GOOD SALAD BAR!

Exhausted, but still handsome.

We aren’t done this adventure yet!!

JBJ

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3 thoughts on “Day 19: South Dakota

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