On the last weekend in June, while driving to a state park, hubby and I decided that we should go somewhere for July 4th weekend. "Let's go to the Badlands!", we agreed. There and then in the car, we looked to see if there are still places to reserve. And yes, we found a seemingly decent cabin near the Badlands, and that's pretty much how we operate these days - on a whim and without much planning ahead.
We left the house at 4 am, and with 2 stretch stops and driver swithichg, we reached the Badlands National Park around noon - Mountain Time. Somewhere in the middle of South Dakota, the time zone changed from Central to Mountain. Pretty neat!
|A note of caution: |
These cliffs easily erode and the rock could be chipped away easily with a fingernail,
so make sure you stay clear from the edge when you hike.
|Sun setting in the Badlands|
|And blankets it in colors|
After a short hike in the Door trail, the kids were pretty hot and sticky. We checked in to our cabin and headed to Wall Drug. Since the signs for this place speckled the 500 mile road from Minnesota to South Dakota, we knew what to expect - stores, splash pad, free ice water, 5c coffee, donuts, dinosaurs, belts, and everything else you could imagine or ask for - including a jackalope. Not exactly the attraction we seek, but the kids enjoyed cooling off in the splash pad.
Truth be told, there's not really a lot of young-kids-friendly hiking in the Badlands. So, on the next day, we decided to go to the Black Hills and check out some more kid-friendly hiking in that area. Just to make it more interesting, fate threw a wrench, or rather a nail, in our plans and we had to spend a few hours dealing with our flat tire. But that didn't stop us from more adventuring. We drove through the Black Hills and went to Mt. Rushmore in Keystone. Seeing George Washington, Thomas
Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt's huge visages amidst granite and greens was more impressive than I've ever imagined. Kudos to
sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who I learned studied with Rodin, and used dynamite to carve the massive granite mountain.What best way to celebrate July 4th than here. The chiseled mountain and the presidential trail highlighted 4 past leaders who made huge contributions to the US history.
News Flash: Black Hills > Badlands.
There I said it! (well, at least in my opinion.) While a lot of peaple will travel from far away lands to visit the Badlands, a lot of those will most likely skip the Black Hills National Forest. Big mistake. "Black Hills", although ominous-sounding, is named because of the hills' dark appearance, as they are covered in mostly ponderosa pine trees, with dark bark and deep evergreen needles. For many Native Americans, these hills has offered physical and spiritual renewal. And you won't know it until you visit it.
Before heading to Rapid City to have dinner, we stopped at a tucked-away Breezy Point picnic area in the Black Hills forest to get the wiggles out. It was a great find and treated us to a great view of granite peaks.
|Splash pad, Rapid City. If there's a splash park somewhere,|
we'll find it.
|Roughlock Falls - supposedly provided scenes for Dances with Wolves, |
but I honestly don't remember the movie well.
|Run, river, run.|
We would have loved to continue on to Black Hills in Wyoming to check out Devils Tower National Monument, but the weather didn't cooperate and shoo-ed us back to Rapid City. Take my word for it, if you're in South Dakota, explore the Northern and Southern Black Hills. It will be good for your heart.
On our last morning before heading back to Minnesota, we left early for the Badlands park and we saw some animals enjoying their breakfast - prairie dogs, big horn sheep, and proghorn antelopes. We even saw some bisons from afar but couldn't get near enough to take pictures. Since it was also cooler, and the hills were soaked by rain the day before, you can see bands of vibrant colors of earth of peach, pink, and creme hues. I swear, I've been so spoiled by geology this past few months! Which brings me to this question - Where next??!
|Dances with Antelopes|
|The kids saw flowers, insects and a burrowing owl in the prairie.|