Saturday, November 19, 2016

Touring South Dakota Day 2 - The Badlands

Our wish/must-do list for this day was pretty aggressive: Change hotels, go to the race expo, drive to Badlands, Minuteman Missile Base, Wall Drug, and get back in time for dinner. We were happy to see Hill City seemed to offer a bit more vs. Keystone. Besides being a larger town, there was a train museum, breweries, wineries, and world record holding collection of teddy bears. Michael and Tara were going to visit Jewel Cave while Pam and Stan were joining us on our extravaganza.

We used the South Dakota tourism map to choose a route to the Badlands via Rapid City. We could go the highway, or the labeled scenic route. We took the scenic route. The traffic was very low and we got some pretty views of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands and the backside of the Badlands. We were surprised to pass through the town of "Scenic, SD". We felt pretty stupid for our blunder but the drive was pretty darn scenic.

Once we arrived in The Badlands National Park we followed a similar pattern that we followed in Wyoming: See a parking area, scan the sourroundings, take a vote if we should stop, if we stop get out of the car, take pictures, get in the car, repeat. There were so many cool places to pull over and walk around you eventually had to pass some by.

Really need to clean that image sensor

Since we came in the back way our tour of the area was split up a bit. We saw a small portion of the park first, then exited to head towards the Minuteman Missile Base. On the way there was a sod home museum - 1850's South Dakota living. We visited the store and restrooms but decided not to tour the house. Visitors that do tour the home are encouraged to wear period garments furnished by the museum. On the grounds of the museum were white prairie dogs.

The sign makes us feel bad we missed it

We arrived at the Missile Base too late to get a tour of the control room. We settled for a few pictures and a tour of the museum. Michael and Tara were lucky enough to tour the base a few days later and said it was a really interesting experience. On the way back we stopped at a closed (for the season) tourist trap where visitors are encouraged to feed peanuts to the prairie dogs.


After lunch at the Cedar Pass Lodge we toured the rest of the park. At one stop some teenage girls found a rattlesnake in the bushes. Fun for all! Stan stood too close to cliff edges for Holly's liking but it made for some fun pictures.

This area had a cool little trail with fossils and drawings of what used to live here. There used to be rhino-like animals in North America.
Too coincidental for a rock formation in this area

The final stop of the day was the famous Wall Drug. This is a drug store that decided to also cater to the booming tourist traffic. They have everything you need from knives, t-shirts, Native American souvenirs, mounted jackalope heads, and any other tacky thing you can imagine. There was a cafe with great donuts (provisions for race day) and an ice cream shop. Really fun stop.

The YouTube video posted below (not from us) will give you a good idea of the experience.


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