A Wonderful Vacation Destination
A few years ago my family decided to take a trip to The Badlands in South Dakota. It turned out to be one of the most memorable trips we have ever taken. The trip from our house was about 1050 miles and took 2 days to get there. We had already decided that we would camp while there and knew where we would be staying. We researched the campgrounds and reserved the sites so as not to be stuck with no where to go once we got there. My dad is from North Dakota originally so I had been to the Badlands as a child. When we got there, I quickly realized how my memory had dimmed in the years since I had been there. The magnificent beauty took my breath away. The ooohs and ahhhs coming from the back sit where my kids were was well worth the long and tiring trip.
The Badlands National Park
The Badlands National Park is an awesome sight. As you approach the park you can see some of it from outside. And then you drive in and everyone does the same thing. They gasp. As large at the Badlands are, to get the most out of them you must go inside the park. Literally as you round a bend after going in the front gate the badlands come into view. They stretch out as far as the eye can see in varying colors, shapes, and heights. It is a sight to behold. The Badlands National Park website calls what you are seeing, " 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires". A great way to put it, I was sitting here trying to decide the correct terms to what I was seeing. The Badlands National Park also has the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States.
My Kids and Myself
An Unusual National Park
What I found the most unusual thing about The Badlands National Park is the public access. In most National and State Parks there are very strict rules as to what you can and can't do. I have been in State and National Parks where just the thing you wanted to see up close or maybe even touch was off limits. There is certainly a reason for these rules but sometimes you just want to see it better. In the Badlands National Park in some areas they had boardwalks that you could access to get on top of a formation or to get closer to it. In many areas as you drove through the park there would be areas where you could pull over to get a better look. Much to my surprise there were no signs saying to stay off the rock. I couldn't believe the people crawling all over the formations. My 2 sons were beside themselves with joy. They were out of the car and running to climb those rocks. Climbing is permitted within the boundaries of The Badlands National Park. There are also many marked hiking trails in varying lengths. Make sure you know how long the trail is and bring along water, hats and first aid kits for your safety. You may also go off trail at your own risk.
My Husband and Kids
A Return Trip and Again
It was one of the most memorable vacations we have ever been on. My kids still talk about it. We went through the Badlands again 4 years later and we were just as awestruck as the first time. The beauty and desolation of the Badlands makes you want to return over and over again. We will return.