The website for Badlands National Park Service states that it draws visitors from all over the world, yet on the afternoon that I visited I encountered two cars (and they were together) on the Badlands Loop Road. After dropping my husband off at the Rapid City, SD Regional Airport, I had headed southeast to the Badlands. With leaving the airport I had returned to being alone, and within a few miles I was alone not just in the car but on the road. It was an interesting adjustment, going from having a traveling companion to being alone, from being at busy National Parks to being out on a dirt road without any other car in sight nor seeing one for many miles. I embraced the solitude but not the quiet as there were birds flitting everywhere.
The Badlands met my expectations with its rugged beauty of eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires. The shades of white and grey were numerous and the formations fascinating. I enjoyed my dirt-road drive, stopping to take photos, to walk about a bit and at times just to stare out at a landscape I had only seen from 30,000 miles above as I flew over this fly-over state. The Loop Road took me first through eroded buttes and then grasslands where some bison grazed. It took me out of the park for a few miles and along a road with family farms growing crops to the left and rugged peaks and canyons to the right, then it was over a cattle-grid and back into the national park. I noticed a prairie dog alongside the road as I was leaving the park for the final time and was pleased I hadn’t missed a sighting of this little creature. I stopped to observe it, turned my head and saw dozens of prairie dogs on the other side of the road. Observing the behavior of the prairies dogs was how I spent the next 30 minutes or so, and of course, taking loads of photos. I, especially, enjoyed the antics of a threesome who huddled together above their hole, ran off in unison, bobbing and weaving until they arrived at another hole. They definitely reminded me of my threesome, back in the day when they weren’t spread across the globe.
My trip to the Badlands would not be complete without a trip to Wall Drug and this was easily accomplished as the road out of the park led north directly to Wall, South Dakota. They make a very good chocolate milkshake at Wall Drug, which I enjoyed while browsing the many rooms of souvenirs and checking out the Western theme street that Wall Drug occupies. From Wall, I drove east on I-90 noticing the changing landscape from the Badlands of the west to the farmlands of the Midwest which seemed to coincide with the time change from mountain time to central time.