Badlands National Park

Sunset in the Badlands
Sunset in the Badlands

The Badlands are amazing in that they just seem to pop up out of the prairie and then extend for miles in all directions.  We found that the best way to view the park is by driving the Badlands Loop Road which starts either in Wall, SD on the west side or Interior, SD on the east.  We started at Interior and drove west.  You should definitely stop at the visitors center and get an overview of the park and have any questions that you might have answered by the park rangers.  We found them to be very helpful.

Badlands Visitor Center
Badlands Visitor Center
Beautiful Topography
Beautiful Topography

There are overlooks and signs explaining the landscape as you drive the loop road.  Overlooks are abundant along with hiking trails. If you have binoculars you should bring them as there is abundant wildlife in the park.  You are warned numerous times about keeping a safe distance from the wildlife especially bison and elk, but we didn’t even see any of these species during the three days we were there.  Speaking of the number of days, we felt that two days would be enough for a quality visit.  We spent one day driving the entire loop road which takes a couple of hours depending on how much you stop, and then we went back to the areas we thought most photo friendly the next evening when the light was at its best.  Of course you could pack this all into one long day, but we prefer not to do that.  During the day, the direct light makes the park colors and features “flat”, however during early morning or late evening the park seems to come alive from the soft light of that time of day.

Midday in the Badlands. Man in foreground gives some perspective to the landscape.
Midday in the Badlands. Man in foreground gives some perspective to the landscape.
Colors Abound at Sunset
Colors Abound at Sunset
It can also be Stark
It can also be Stark

The one species of animal that is very abundant and fun to watch is the prairie dog.  There are certain areas where there are hundreds of holes and the little creatures are everywhere.  They don’t seem to be afraid of humans, making it easy to photograph them.  Liz and I spent almost an hour watching them go from hole to hole and playing with each other.

Prairie Dog on the Lookout
Prairie Dog on the Lookout
Being Cautious
Being Cautious
On the Move
On the Move

There is a campground at the Interior, SD entrance that has some electric hookups, but the sites are not huge and many are not level.  It would have been difficult to park our 40′ motor home there.  There is no water or sewer provided, but there is a dump station.  The roads were asphalt and it seemed to be well cared for.  More information is available at https://www.nps.gov/badl/planyourvisit/camping.htm

One final photo:

Sunset in the Badlands
Sunset in the Badlands

Safe Travels…..

 

 

 

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