August 18, 2014

8/2/14 - Badlands NP

Lots of people make the trip to Badlands National Park from Rapid City.  We drove over to Interior, SD, for a few days so we didn't have to rush.

First stop, of course, was the Visitor Center. George got his Passport Stamps.

They find a lot of fossils in the park.  We watched someone clean one in the Fossil Prep Lab.  As usual, I asked lots of questions.  Interesting, but not a career for me!
I misunderstood what the Ranger said at the entrance, so we actually headed up the wrong highway at first.  (Hey!  It's an ADVENTURE!)  The view through Cedar Pass is pretty cool....and then we turned around
We stopped at the Three Trails trailhead.  I suppose that should technically be Three Trails trailheads (plural) because there are three trails that take off from the same parking lot.  We headed out the boardwalk on Window Trail.  The sun was in the wrong place to get a good picture of Window Rock, but I thought what we saw along the way was more interesting.
The Badlands Loop Road isn't a loop through the park like you'd think.  We took it NW from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to the Pinnacles Entrance, then up to Wall (as in "Wall Drugs"), then I-90 SE back to the NE Entrance, SW through Cedar Pass, and back to Interior where we were staying.  I think that's about 65 miles--with lots of stops at lots of overlooks.   Here's the White River Valley Overlook.  The valley is over where the flat prairie is.  I think there's a better way to get there than through this stuff.
This is the view from Bigfoot Pass Overlook where Chief Big Foot's band crossed on their way to Wounded Knee. 
Here's the Burns Basin Overlook.
This is the view across the Badlands from the Homestead Overlook.  I think it's a little greener this year than most.  
At the Conata Basin Overlook, we got a first view of the Yellow Mounds.  
We had lunch at the Conata picnic area.  Great views everywhere you look.

You can see them better from the Yellow Mounds Overlook (go figure!)  I really like them!
It's a bit of a walk down to the Pinnacles Overlook, but when you get there, the view's outstanding.
And to plagiarize from various road signs:  "When you travel through the Badlands, share the road! Motorcycles are everywhere!"
More pictures here:  Badlands NP 

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