Tag Archives: Badlands

The Badlands of South Dakota

24 Aug

We left Palisades State Park and went grocery shopping which is always a grand affair. I found a nifty little co-op with all sorts of organic local fair which I must admit, my snooty city self was not expecting in South Dakota. We jumped onto I-90, restocked with tasty things, and started driving west. Roadside America thus began. We saw a sign for “The Worlds only Corn Palace” and rightly, couldn’t resist. A mere 40 minute detour to see a palace made of corn is a small price to pay. Huge and made mostly of corn, it was everything we dreamed of, and more. Turns out corn palace has been around for well over a hundred years, in slightly different incarnations, and attracts a half million visitors a year. I left Guillaume alone for a minute and I found him flirting with the little old ladies at the gift shop, his French accent suddenly much stronger. Perhaps his wilderness survival skills are stronger than I suspected..

Next we passed Americas smallest church and an automated old-west town inhabited by robots! Woo-hoo! The wondrous of South Dakota already had us hooked.

We crossed the Missouri River and the landscape quickly morphed. Hills painted in pinks, oranges, yellows and browns surrounded us. Abandoned wooden shacks dotted the highways and the largest selection of beef jerky I have ever seen adorned every gas station. American flags and TeePees too. A trucker saw my license plate and whistled between his two teeth what I was already thinking “Darling this ain’t nothing like Florida no more”.

Between corn palaces and tiny churches I was already feeling quite culturally saturated, and then, enter stage West, “The badlands”. Holy smokes. We turned off the main road and took 240- a scenic loop through Badlands National Park. We passed a Prairie dog town and stopped to watch them. They are so charming. They kissed and wrestled and chirped with each other and made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Their social skills were more advanced than those of some humans I know. We got back on the road and I have to say the drive was one of the most surprising and fantastic sites my eyes have ever greeted. This place is unlike any other earthly location I’ve been (extraterrestrial locations too, frankly). The surface of the badlands is covered with canyons and hills of multi-color stripes. The rock is in shades of red, pink and silver. We followed a windy road through this magical landscape. Our mouthes hanging open as the sun encroached the horizon. We scouted a bison and a big horned mountain goat family climbing these craggy peaks and felt like we were on the most exotic of safaris, the best part being we were practically alone on this dirt road. Prairie dog towns abounded and we watched them kissing each other again and even spotted a coyote spying on them too. Yogi of course threw tantrums the entire way pretending he wanted to go chase a buffalo as he climbed all over the car like a nimble spider monkey.
We wound down this dusty road and turned left into this small circle of 5 tents in a small valley surrounded by gentle, barren hills. We set up our tent but opted to sleep under the stars as it was so gorgeous out. We heard coyote howls surrounding us in the hills throughout the night. Yogi slept very close.