Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

One of the most important lessons I've learned over the past few years thanks to yoga has been to be open to the possibilities. I am typically the planner, but for our most recent road trip I left the route decisions up to Graham. He chose a route that took us through Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. He had a stop in mind: Badlands National Park. Other than seeing a few images of the landscape, I knew nothing about it.

The plan for the first day was to drive from Chicago to Rapid City and rest for a night in a hotel. In typical Flora fashion, we got a late start, so we instead drove to just east of Rapid City. We awoke around 7 to continue the trek. In about 15 miles, we arrived at the park entrance; there was no one at the ranger station. We drove on to the viewpoint for our first look. 

Badlands National Park, South Dakota
This is actually at the exit of the loop, because I missed the Badlands National Park entrance sign. 
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Driving into Badlands National Park

We continued driving into the park, and within 2 minutes, we spotted bighorn sheep and deer. I snapped picture after picture of the animals, which didn't seem spooked by our presence. We drove on, stopping frequently to take more photos of the geologic formations. The wind has shaped the rocks into peaks in many places. Snow was spread throughout the land and the park was peaceful and quiet. We saw maybe two cars the entire scenic loop, and one of them was a ranger's truck. Again, we spotted bighorn sheep. As we drove away, I said, "I want to see a ram on a cliff!" About 10 seconds later, that's exactly what we saw. (Is ram the correct term?) I was elated to see so much wildlife. I have never seen that many animals at a national park. We kept driving to see even more deer. As we left the park, I saw prairie dogs scurrying about. It was a nice little sendoff before we continued on our road trip. 


Badlands National Park, South Dakota, Bighorn Sheep

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, deer

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, deer

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, deer

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota
More bighorn sheep.


Badlands National Park, South Dakota, deer


Badlands National Park, South Dakota, bighorn sheep
Ram!

Badlands National Park, South Dakota
One last view before leaving Badlands National Park.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, prairie dogs

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, prairie dogs
Prairie dogs.
Whether you are passing through the area or camping at the Badlands, the park is a must-see. Add it to your list!


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