Badland National Park

Now we are in a starkly different part of South Dakota from the mountainous Custer State Park: Badlands at 2000 feet lower. The two-hour drive across the state through Rapid City was appealing since landscapes changed constantly. At one point, it was all flat with corn fields. Then the Badlands came with a maze of buttes, canyons, pinnacles, spires, and prairie lands. This national park is one of the unique ones we have ever visited. Why is it called “Badlands”? The Lakota people dubbed this region “mako sica,” or “bad lands,” long ago because of its rocky terrain, lack of water and extreme temperatures. Yes, it was brutally hot yesterday, at 95 degrees. Therefore, we stayed in the air-conditioned truck during the whole drive but did get out for some picture taking. The best part of this destination is our boondocking right on the cliff – with a breathtaking view of the Badlands below us. People come here to camp out for free, as there are no hookups. It was fun to stay there for one night, and we felt like the 1968 hippies camping out in a Beetle van, not the retired clean-cut people! A lot of laughter and awe ensued. And we had “a room with a view” last night with dinner. Then we sat outside with glasses of Amaretto and watched the sunset behind us cast light on the canyons while the nearly full moon appeared on our right. Overnight a violent thunderstorm came up, shaking our RV to the core, but we managed to hunker down and slept well. At least the Badlands got some much-needed rain. And this morning I woke up in time for the beautiful sunrise and took pictures from our RV bedroom window…And the bighorn sheep sauntered nearby. They are beautiful animals deserved to be left alone.