Last fall, when my seasonal contract with Yellowstone Association was up, I headed for South Dakota. When I was a kid, our next door neighbors headed west every few years in their tiny Shasta trailer and brought back Native American jewelry for my Mom and us girls. I still love wearing the exquisite coral colored stone and silver earrings I received 40 years ago. One of the places they raved about was Badlands National Park, so I wore the earrings as I explored the park.
When I drove in, my first thought was “What is all the fuss about?” Having recently explored the wonders of Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier, this one seemed to fall short. But then I rounded a corner and was blown away by a landscape that seemed more of a faraway planet than our own Earth.
One road runs through the park to the main highway and loops back around (you must stop at Wall Drugs, just because it’s iconic). I drove from the East gate to the West, where this lone bison guarded the entrance gate, then turned around to catch some sunset photos on the way back.
In October, the lone campground was sparsely attended, so I chose a full hook-up site and dropped a check in an envelope at the self-pay station. The Visitor Center and Museum were within walking distance, and I enjoyed the exhibits on Native culture the best.
Other nearby attractions that I visited were the Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park and the Needles highway which I will highlight in coming posts. Overall, my trip to the Badlands was quite memorable. Now I know why my neighbors raved about their time there.
Note: One of my RVing priorities is to experience as many National Parks as possible. In fact, the first tool I go to is Page L in my National Geographic Road Atlas: Adventure Edition, which maps out the entire National Park System. After choosing which parks I want to aim for, I turn to Page 2, which is a map of the driving routes across the United States. Using the scale, I can estimate how many miles my route will take so I can budget for gas money. The individual state pages are great, as they also highlight the National Parks, Monuments, and Historical Areas I want to visit.