Monday, September 19, 2011

Dakota Badlands National Park

This is Eldy speaking.....Hey, folks, hang onto your hats! Sparky drove the motorhome!!!!!! I decided it was about time and put my foot down! She drove for an hour, but she drove the motorhome. For the first time, he's right (not for the first time, I mean, he's usually right...I really did need to drive the big rig for experience. (What was that, Sparky? What did you say? I'M USUALLY RIGHT???? Everybody heard that, right?) Ahem! As I was saying, it wasn't bad, we picked a really straight stretch, and instead of trying to explain all the gauges all at once, Eldy did it in stages, and then I felt more comfortable behind the wheel. There wasn't any wind, there was only one construction zone and the orange cones were only on one side, I can handle that! I drove from one rest stop to another, and decided that was enough for one day! (She'll be back in the driver's seat, folks, she needs some more practice.) That I do, sweetie...practice with bridges, cement barriers, cones on both sides, wind, etc. etc. I think I just talked myself out of driving for quite some time! And I think I just heard a big (sigh!) from E.
The Badlands
To back up for a moment....we left Custer and our friends Sherry and Dave yesterday at Broken Arrow RV park in Custer, getting ready to pack up and leave. We got ourselves going and decided to drive through the Badlands National Park to see the views on our way to Mitchell, S.D.  We drove highway to 16, to interstate 90, and then thru the national park, on highway 240 Loop Road, a 60 minute drive through part of the 244,000 acre park. We drove the motorhome with car in tow with no problems whatsoever. There were incredible, awsome views!  Awesome buttes, flat top tables, spires and rolling grasslands....We stopped for lunch at an ample pullout big enough for MANY big rigs....
Cool colors! Even more awesome after a rainstorm or early in the morning or late in the day...
The Badlands were formed from water eroding and rock and soils being deposited. Erosion is ongoing, and every time it rains, more sediment gets washed from the buttes. You might see a tower one time on a visit, and the next time it will be gone. These formations are relatively new on the geologic scale.

Erosion rates suggest that they will erode away completely in another 500,000 years. Glad people will be able to see them for a long, long time!
Weird how they come up from totally flat ground all around some of the formations
You can see the very distinct layers of soft, sedimentary rock..they are made of silt, sand, and clay that have been cemented into solid form....The different colors of layers tell geologists what time period they were formed.....

The only animals we saw today were prairie dogs and mountain goats as we passed through the park....but there are black footed ferrets, big horn sheep, prairie rattlesnakes, bobcats, fox, bison, and coyotes should you be so lucky to see one of those...

The park is divided into two parts--the North Unit and the South Unit. Certain parts of the South Unit contain many sites sacred to the Oglala Lakota Indian culture. What's also interesting about the South Unit is that 122,000 acres were used as an aerial bombing range during World War II. Much of the South Unit remains largely undeveloped and that's a good thing. The park newspaper talks about still clearing the area of unexploded bombs that litter the area and that cell phones can detonate those devices!

There are some great hiking trails off the main road through the park...they range from .75 miles to 10 miles, taking you through the buttes and spires....

There is another interesting tour not too far from the Badlands---the Minuteman Missile site, home of an underground launch center and missile silo. The site, Delta-09 is located on the south side of interstate 90, exit 116. We did not have time to check this out today, although we would have liked to, being kids having grown up in the Cold War era.

After driving through the badlands, that's when Eldy turned the wheel over to Sparky and she did her short stint as a driver....Back to you, Eldo!  We landed in Mitchell, S.D. for the night, boondocking in the great Cabela's parking lot, which is VERY RV friendly...they have a free dump station for RVers, picnic tables at a little park with a pond, and it's very clean and safe to stay there. We still didn't put out any slides, it's just polite not to look like you have moved in for the weekend when you stay in free places. There were at least five rigs of varying sizes pulled up side by side in the parking lot, and one person did have their bedroom slide out...tch! tch!  Had we had more time, we would have checked out this year's decorations at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, which decorates the front and the insides of this meeting center with all kinds of grains and artwork each year. But--we'll have to wait till next year, on to Sioux Falls, S.D.  tomorrow morning. Sparky is going to switch her Indiana plates to S.D. plates and get a S.D. driver's license. The price difference between Indiana and South Dakota is huge when it comes to licensing plates. We'll let you know the costs tomorrow...see you at the license branch!


  1. Great pictures of the Badlands. We really enjoy them and been here a number of times.

  2. Yet another place I have never been.

  3. WOW, we were here for 2 days and our pictures aren't that fantastic. You must have read the newspaper to have found out everything you did. I love this place!

    Congrats on the driving!!! I knew you could do it. But Eldy stopping to let you take the wheel?? Eldy stopping in route??
    Now that IS amazing!!

  4. Congratulations on driving the Phaeton. I did one short stint in a parking lot a while back ... putting off any real road driving until we get out of the East Coast traffic :-)

  5. Congrats on driving the MH - well done!

    The Dakota Badlands are one of the most impressive sights we've ever seen on our RV travels - just loved them when we visited a few years back.

    Thanks for bringing back some great memories!

  6. How long did it take you to unclench your hands? Good job though.

    See you in a few days at the Gypsy Ralley in Celina. Nice town and Fairgrounds.

  7. Ohhh very very pretty pictures!

    And congrats on the driving--- everyone should be able to drive their RV in case of an emergency (still trying to convince my mom of that with their motorhome too)

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard