Lynn & David travelling in West Africa travel blog

Another ghost town, Scenic, South Dakota

Another ghost town, Scenic, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Lynn and David, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Lynn with rattlesnake sign, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Red buttes, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

White buttes, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Bison, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Prairie Dog, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Antelope, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Antelopes, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

David representing Australia at Badlands National Park, South Dakota

View from our motel, Interior, Badlands National Park, South Dakota


Friday 24th May, 2013

Hill City to Interior, South Dakota

We had breakfast in the motel and then set off at about 9:30am. We drove to Rapid City about 15miles away and bought some bread, cheese and fruit for lunch because we have experienced a lack of eateries as we have been driving – this area is empty. We then headed out towards the Badlands National Park. We first drove to Scenic (quite surprising name as it was nothing of the sort) – mainly old run-down buildings with hardly anybody living there. The Badlands is a geological landscape of buttes, spires and rolling grasslands. It is 244,000 acres and is part of the largest undisturbed mixed-prairie rangeland remaining in the United States. There is a surprising amount of grassland within the National Park, but most impressive are the worn buttes and spires that are different colours by strata although some have grass on top as well. We drove into both the South Unit and the North Unit of the park. The South Unit is run by the Oglala-Lakota Native American people and is very beautiful. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation surrounds the South Unit and the Visitor Centre is run by the Native American people. The Centre had a ‘closed’ sign on the front (not open until 1 June, like almost everything else) but, as we prepared to pull back out of the car park, the door opened and we were beckoned in. The Centre contained many displays and also examples of all the local wildlife – in a stuffed form. The staff had come in to prepare for the tourist season, one task being to kill any moths that had taken up residence on the stuffed animals! We had a long and interesting conversation with one of the local men who told us that things are improving on the reservation and that it is planned for the local indigenous people to take over running the whole Badlands National Park. The main problem they have is with lack of employment opportunities. We then drove back to the North Unit which is more developed and more visited. We stopped off at Scenic to eat our lunch in the shade of a tree and then turned off the sealed main road onto a gravel road that looped around and eventually met up with the main sightseeing route. The views were amazing, we saw no-one except a number of bison. Once we reached the sealed road again there were other cars which had taken the main route. We saw a community of prairie dogs and also a number of antelope and a few more bison. We stopped at a number of lookout points to take photos of the view and to see the vastness of the landscape. The landscape was so immense it almost overwhelmed us and the photos cannot capture what is seen by one’s eyes. The weather today had turned quite warm and probably reached about 27C by the afternoon and it was totally clear. Although we hadn’t stopped at all the lookouts we agreed the experience had exhausted us and we decided to defer some of the views until tomorrow. After we had finished looking, we drove to Interior, a small town on the edge of the park (population 67) and stayed in a motel. There are only 2 eating opportunities in town and one closed at 6.30pm so we headed off to the Bar where they offered hamburgers. We walked 4 blocks through the town, interesting in itself, and found the bar in a tin shed. We sat and chatted to a man who lived near the town with his girlfriend – she was the bartender – they both had originally come from Florida to this area two years ago to do astronomy lectures in the park – it has such dark skies here – and they stayed. Everyone here is very friendly and seems a nice place; it looks run down but has a primary school and most of the things needed for a small town. We walked back to the motel and to bed around 10pm. Really good day and only one rattlesnake warning sign at one of the lookouts…



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