“Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is my second”
State 14: South Dakota - August 31, 2017
We woke up at a Walmart in Rapid City, SD excited about the day’s events. Today we would drive 75 miles East to visit another amazing National Park in South Dakota; Badlands National Park. The Badlands was established as a National Monument, on January 25, 1939, and re-designated as a National Park on November 10, 1978. The Badlands features 242,756 acres of captivating rugged terrain, one of the world’s largest fossil beds, the largest undisturbed grassland prairies in the entire world, and home to bison, big horn sheep, prairie dogs, and the most endangered land mammal in North America, the black footed ferret.
The Badlands featured a 27-mile loop road which goes from Wall, SD to Cactus Flat, SD. For geographical convenience, we entered the Badlands via the Pinnacle Entrance in Wall, SD. Usually we like to visit the welcome center prior to exploring a National Park, but it's location was 27 miles the down the loop road. I guess we would be doing a little bit of free styling on today's adventure! It takes 1 hour to drive the entire loop road without stopping, but why in the world would you want to do that? From the lunar like landscape, grassland prairies majestically dancing in the wind , fascinating rock formations, and an endless array of vastness to leave you breathless, our trip down the 27 mile scenic byway of the Badlands took us over 6 hours! We visited 9 of the 14 overlooks during our visit, which are pictured below. Unfortunately, we did not see any wildlife during our visit.
Yellow Mounds Overlook
Conata Basin Overlook
Burns Basin Overlook
Panorama Point Overlook
White River Valley Overlook
Saddle Pass Trailhead
Big Badlands Overlook
On our way out of the park, mother nature decided to further woo us with a grand finale’. We were treated to a spectacular sunset accompanied by a the most beautiful rainbow either of us had ever seen. The pictures below barley capture the magnificence of what we witnessed.
After exiting the Badlands, we came across The Minuteman National Historical Site, which was a cold war era decommissioned nuclear launch site. Regretfully we were unable to visit, since it was closed for the day. We drove to a Walmart in Interior, SD 10 miles east to sleep for the night.