Retirement Traveling – Visiting Badlands National Park

Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Parks.

These two parks were great, and we really enjoyed both of them.  We decided to stay for a few days and visit these national treasures. This article covers visiting Badlands National Park.  We’ll have another article on Mount Rushmore and surrounding areas.

We drove from Sioux Falls, SD towards Rapid City, SD via Route 90.  There are lots and lots of farmland as you head west.  During our travels we saw many windmills that provide 300,000 homes with electricity.  With a population of 858,469 (according to Google!) that’s a big percentage being powered by wind.

 

Windmills in South Dakota Badlands
Windmills in South Dakota

To enter Badlands National Park, we turned off Route I90 and traveled the “Badlands Loop” which is Route 240.  The loop is 40 miles and takes about an hour and 15 minutes if you don’t stop, but you will stop many times to take photos and hike along the way.  I recommend that you give yourself at least a half of day to explore this area.  There are plenty of spots to take pictures, hike, and just relax while soaking up the views. 

After going through the NE entrance station, you soon see amazing views of desolate landscape.  When I first saw it, I thought “this could be a spot on the moon.”  Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I can say the beauty of the ruggedness and lifeless landscape was something I’ve never seen before.  Just when you thought nothing could live here, we came across this big horn sheep that was resting in the shade of the rocks.

Big Horn Sheep in Badlands
Big Horn Sheep resting in Badlands Nat’l Park

This was a magnificent creature and a very large one at that! 

From here we continued through the park and here are some of the views we got to see:

Moonscape view in Badlands
Badlands desolate landscape
Baklands Rocky Formation
Badlands erosion creates scenic view
Selfie in Badlands
My wife Beth with me during our visit to Badlands

As you can see, the landscape is incredible and so different than anything we had seen in our lives.  While driving the “Badland Loop,” we utilized our Gypsy Guide App which pointed out a dirt road that gives you an opportunity to see additional areas such as Prairie Dog Town and many Bison, Pronghorns (commonly called antelope), and Big Horn Sheep.  The Gypsy Guide App gave fun facts such as there were over 2 billion prairie dogs at one point, and they are very social animals.  Although they are cute, we were warned that a flea can jump 10 feet in the air.  Since these fleas can spread disease (such as Bubonic Plague), it’s a good idea to keep your distance!

We also got to see this big bison.  He was lumbering across the plains as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

Badlands Bison
Bison roaming the range in Badlands National Park

This majestic animal weighs about 2,000 pounds.  We decided to give him a wide berth so we could stay safe and keep our car from being wrecked!

We finished our drive on Route 240 which took us back to I90 and Wall, SD.  Here you’ll find the Wall Drug store where you can get free ice water and a coffee for 5 cents.  Lots of tourist attractions here and it made for a good place to stretch our legs before heading to Rapid City.  Rapid City was a great centralized place to stay while seeing the surrounding areas including Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and the Needles Highway.  More on these places in the next blog article.

I hope you enjoyed the info contained here.  I hope you get the chance to create your own memories while visiting Badlands National Park.  It was truly a great visual treat! 

For more information, check out the following links:

 

Badlands Info:  https://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm

Gypsy Guide Info:  https://apps.apple.com/us/app/gypsy-guide/id1460032075

Wall Drug store info: https://www.walldrug.com

 

Safe travels and discover America.

Glenn

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