The Hunts Head West – Day 3 (The Badlands!!)
We’ve reached Day 3! Whoo hoo! This was far and away my favorite day of the trip as we departed Minnesota and spent the bulk of the day traveling through South Dakota. When planning our journey, I had read so many comments from other travelers who said driving across South Dakota was boring – not to me! I loved it! This was primarily due to the fact that I knew we were going to see the Badlands, one of the main reasons we had followed a northern route to Oregon.
As we journeyed on, we saw a million more wind turbines that stretched into the horizon.
And we even saw them waiting to be transported (this photo does not do justice to how massive they are).
More amber waves of grain….
And then South Dakota!
We made a quick stop to check out the Corn Palace, which is decorated with murals made out of corn and framed with native grasses.
They were in the midst of a remodel when we stopped but still pretty impressive to see such large-scale art created from crops.
We continued onward, taking in the South Dakota countryside until we reached the Missouri River, where we took a doggie pit stop at another fantastic rest area.
Though it was incredibly windy, we were rewarded with amazing views of the Missouri River and even stumbled upon this little gem:
We hopped back on the road under darkening skies and headed onward. We had hoped to make good enough time to make it not only to the Badlands but also to Mount Rushmore. However, we realized that there was no way we could reasonably do both before it was pitch black. So, we decided to alter our route slightly and make our stop for the night at Devil’s Tower. This would give us more time to check out the Badlands which pleased me to no end. A quick phone call later and we had a pet-friendly cabin reserved at a campground at the base of Devil’s Tower. With our accommodations for the night taken care of, we headed into Wall and checked out the giant tourist trap that is Wall Drug. This store stretches on and on and then on some more. We parked the moving truck and Andrew & Sawyer piled into the car with us for our detour into Badlands National Park (yes, it was a tight squeeze).
The Badlands …. isn’t that name just plain awesome? It conjures up images of explorers and outlaws and unabashed wildness. When we first saw the prairie give way to this incredible geologic landscape, excitement propelled me out of the car, and I ran to the edge and just stared in amazement at the beauty.
We had the good fortune to arrive as the sun was leaving which made the most brilliant colors emerge from the rocks.
The dogs were also fascinated but they stayed in the car for this stop so they wouldn’t disturb the native fauna.
Every vista was incredible and with the changing light, the sedimentary palette changed too, making for an incredible sunset performance.
Andrew of course inspected the soil while I just continued snapping away with my camera, trying to capture the magical view before me.
Even Wally was entranced with the vastness before him.
The sun finally set and the land gave its grand finale of color – I wanted to applaud at the beauty of it all and yell to God ‘Hey, fantastic job!’
It was truly one of the most inspiring places I have ever visited in my life. We reluctantly departed but know without a doubt that we want to make a trip back to explore the park more extensively.
We headed back to the moving truck, unloaded Andrew and Sawyer and sped along down the road toward Wyoming. Despite our best efforts, we had still taken a good long time at our stops and as we traveled onward, the hour grew late. Here’s the thing about Devil’s Tower – you have to take this winding, small road that seems to go on forever right through the middle of nowhere. At least that’s what it seems like when it’s pitch black outside. Add to the mix that Andrew decides to inform me on this lonely, isolated road that he’s low on gas. Remember how I’m super calm and collected about vehicles running low on fuel? Yeah. Add to that also that I lost cell reception and really had no idea how much further it would be until we reached the campground. Fun times.
The campground finally FINALLY comes into sight, and I hop out of the car to grab our key from the late arrival box. I’m walking up to the office when what to my wandering eyes should appear but a giant raccoon scurrying under the steps. I freeze then do a ninja-like sprint and jump over the steps, grab the key and run back to the car, where my superhero bravery has gone unnoticed by everyone else. Sigh.
We pull up to our cabin and try to unload our stuff as quietly as possible because it seems as though the entire campground is asleep. The hounds do not comply. But we finally get everyone walked and fed, and the dogs settle in for their nightly kongs.
The campsite has advertised free WIFI and I attempt to use it to search out accommodations for the next night but sadly, no dice. The aliens probably screw with the signal out there, you know? (Close Encounters, anyone?) So, we hit the hay (or in this case the rubber cabin mattress) and catch some shut-eye.
Check back in for the next post when we wake up to see Devil’s Tower in all its sunlit glory (spoiler: it’s amazing!)