Here we are on our first real sightseeing destination in a couple of months; Badlands National Park South Dakota.
We left Sioux Falls around 11 am for our relatively long trip of 282 miles to the Park. We usually only travel 200-240 miles in a day and we can only travel about 260 on a tank of fuel. With the 282 miles of travel we needed to stop and get fuel while still pulling the 5th wheel. Out here in the west it isn’t as hard to fuel hitched up as the fuel stations are better setup for larger rigs. We also got some relief on the time because we entered Mountain Time just before we enter the Park. That gave us an extra hour in our travels, but we still didn’t get to our RV Park until around 5:30.
|This is advertizing for the Porter Sculpture Park along I 90. It looks like some sort of pagan god idol.|
|Missouri River at Chamberlain SD. We had been driving in Sioux Falls in flat prairie land and this comes into view as we crest a small hill.|
|Stopped for a bathroom break and took this walking back. Just us in the middle of a large flat nothing.|
|Entering Mitchell SD. The Corn Palace is on the right up ahead.|
|They change the corn out on the outside every year. They are in the process of changing it for this year when we got there.|
|There is a worker changing the corn out on the scissor lift.|
|The palace is basically a theater and is used for basketball in the winter. The summer it becomes a tourist attraction with gifts on the basketball floor.|
The corn on the inside is only changed when the corn color fades, maybe after 4-5 years.
|More tourist stuff across the street.|
|This is the area they were staging the corn change out.|
We had to enter the Badlands Park to get to our Campground. As this is our first National Park this year we had to purchase an annual pass for $80. We still are not old enough to get the much cheaper $10 lifetime pass. Entrance to the Badlands National Park is $20 so we need to use the pass 3 more times within the next year to make it worth it. We are planning to visit 4 more National Parks on this 2017 trip so we are good.
|On our way through Badlands National Park to our RV Park.|
We stayed at the Badlands Interior RV Campground just outside the National Park on the southeastern side. Patty reserved our spot here many months ago and she even picked the exact site. The site is an end site with our door side facing the Badlands. Even our rear window faced the badlands with exceptional views. The cost of the site was just under $35 a night with our Good Sams discount. It really doesn’t get much better than this!
|Our site just outside the park.|
|Pictures taken from our site.|
|The colors change to a more golden at sunset.|
|First night sunset.|
|Our rig is on the right|
Now for a little about the weather and the heat here in the Badlands. It was really, really hot! We had temperatures in excess of 100 each day we were there. The highest was 106! The only thing that made it tolerable was that the humidity level was really low too, around 15-20%. Those views of the Badlands were only visible from our windows in the morning because we had to keep the blinds pulled down to keep the bright sun out.
The only bad weather we had was at night. We had 2 storms blow through with one causing our big house plant Rosey to fall off of the picnic table. Her beautiful Mexican pot was broken into many pieces. Good thing that Mexico has many more so we can get a new one when we are back at the end of the year.
The second storm was even worse. It was on our last night there and we were not expecting it at all. There was only a 10% chance of even having rain. So at 3am we were completely surprised to be woken up with wind that was rocking the RV. This was the first time we have ever been in this amount of wind in the RV and it was scary! The wind was first, then followed with more wind and a driving rain with lightening. The lightening was probably the most we have ever seen too. It was just about constant!
So there we were in bed rocking back and forth with the rain and wind and lightening pounding the RV. Besides being a little scared for our safety we were thinking about the family of 4 in front of us in a tent and behind us another family in a small popup. That had to be some ordeal for them. We were shocked to see that the tent was still standing in the morning as if nothing had happened!
|Morning after the storm. Sort of looks like the horse is standing on the tent.|
We had 2 full days to explore the area. The first night there the wind blew over and broke Rosey’s pot so we decided to go into the closest big town to maybe get a new pot. The town of Wall where the famous Wall drug store is was the closest place to go. Wall Drug was also on our list of things to do so it was a fit for our first day. It helped that it was going to be around 106 so hiking was not really on the list in the heat.
We went to a local Indian store just outside the Pine Ridge Reservation in the town of Interior. We went there to look for pots before we headed on the longer trip to Wall. The owner of the store was a Creek Indian who we had a very long conversation about Indians and the area. My favorite though was her joke about why it is so windy in South Dakota. “It’s windy because North Dakota blows and Nebraska sucks.” Now I know!
|Only grocery store within 40 miles.|
|Interesting sign for the town our RV Park was in.|
We took the scenic way on the Badlands loop road or SD 44. SD 44 runs through the south side of the national park and through the national grasslands on our way to Wall. This was a great drive to get to know the area and to see the landscape. Wall, like the Corn Palace is all tourist trap and really nothing more. It's still fun though and if it wasn't then it wouldn't be there.
|Views on the road to Wall.|
|A road side viewing area.|
|Patty trying on a leather jacket that I though would look good on her. It does, but she decided she doesn't have any place cold enough to wear it.|
|Moderately crowded at Wall Drug store.|
The next day we headed into the National Park to do hikes on 3 different trails. We decided on the Notch, the Window, and the Door trails. These are pretty short but had the highest reviews. I think the total distance was about 8 miles.
|Pictures from our hikes.|
|This was easy for me going up, a little harder going down.|
|It was more difficult for Patty because she is shorter. Since she is shorter, she had to hold on to the wooden rungs longer that were very hot from the sun. She made it though!|
|Looking down the ladder.|
Our impressions of the Badlands are that they are very similar in looks to Bryce Canyon in Utah only quite a bit bigger. Bryce is a canyon with very large spiked rock formations. The Badlands are the remains of a huge prehistoric river bed that has dried out and eroded leaving behind huge spiny rock formations that go on for miles. The Badlands are also surrounded by immense grasslands that go on forever. Our recommendations would be for a 3 day stay here and take the extra day and drive to Wounded Knee about an hour south. We didn’t have the time so we skipped it.
We are now headed to Sturgis South Dakota to check out the biker rally city. We are still about 2 weeks away from the rally so we can visit without all of the crowds.