We pulled out of our little Oacomo Flatts paradise about 9am and went rocking down the sunshine filled rolling South Dakota hills along 90W at 75mph—speed limit 80. We listened to a playlist called “Home” which I made for a friend who was moving out of state. I never quite got it to him, but it was literally songs about planes, trains and automobiles ranging from “Leaving on a Jet Plane” to “Take the A Train” to “No Cars Go” and it was freaking awesome.
I noticed that by 1030am the temperature was eighty-seven degrees and when we pulled into the Badlands an hour later it was ninety-seven.
Rather than buy a $30 day pass to enter the park we bought a seasonal pass, which provided access to all the national parks for $80. Deal of the century given where our journey was taking us.
Donna was outfitted in the right hiking footwear today. Despite the lengthy reinforced fencing when we pulled off at the first overlook Donna was still cautious as we walked out and gazed at the seventy-five-million-year-old rock.
of the Badlands took place through a process of deposition and erosion. Over
millions of years various forms of rock began to build up like a layer cake.
This rock was deposited (deposition—duh!) by rivers and inland seas. Then about
five-hundred-thousand-years ago the Cheyenne and White Rivers began to carve
out the landscape which is marked by narrow channels, canyons and craggy uneven
peaks with sage and juniper at the edges. Today all those rock formations erode
at about inch per year.
Yes, I got this information straight from the Badlands National Park brochure they hand you when you pay your fee to get in the park. Science class over.
At the next outlook we pulled over and went on a little self-guided tour that was about a mile long. There was a sign that implored you to bring water and to stay on the trail. Staying on the trail was easy as there were bright yellow numbered poles to guide you. The thing about the water I thought was a bit of overkill. I could walk a mile blindfolded and drunk across craggy rock without water. But as we did the walk, neither blindfolded nor drunk, I wished we had some water. Ninety-seven degrees back in humid Buffalo would be unbearable, but here it was just hot and breezy. Still, we sweated our asses off.
From there we spent the afternoon driving from point to point again, awed by the immensity. We got out to hike occasionally and did bring water each time. Overall, probably did seven or eight thousand steps and took tons of pictures—even some selfies which we normally don’t do. That’s us on the right, super in love.
About 4pm we started to wind down and head to this
first-come, first serve dispersed camping site called Sage Creek on the edge of
the park—a thirty-minute ride. But first we had to go to Wall Drug.
Coming out of Minnesota on 90W going into South Dakota
you start to see endless billboards for Wall Drug in Wall South Dakota—which makes
big claims about having everything from headache pills to barbecue to leather
goods. There was one billboard with a T-Rex image that said something like
"Eat or Be Eaten”— Wall Drugs. I said to Donna, “Oh my god, they even have
Dinosaurs,” which elicited a big laugh from her.
We did in fact, need supplies—more wine for Donna and
Southern Comfort for me, plus less important things like food—onions, bananas
and spaghetti sauce. So, we went to Wall Drug trusting the signs we had been seeing
for three-hundred miles that they had everything we desired.
Of course, it was totally underwhelming. They had a restaurant, a bunch of t-shirt shops and all kinds of other kitschy memento shit. It did have smaller shops and we did buy a couple of overpriced plastic wine glasses and a corkscrew. But overall, it was a waste of time. Don’t do it, unless you’re into kitschy kind of stuff and like to sit on a bench and take a pic next to an old-timey plastic cowboy.
|Sage Creek- blue dot
Just down the road at Wall Food we got all our supplies. We also ran out of water, and I was able to refill our thirty–five gallon tank at the Sleepy Hollow Campground for ten-dollars.
All resupplied we set out through the dusty juniper and
sage filled hills. We saw ranges and ranges or prairie dogs along with black
cows, caches of free-roaming bison and acres and acres of sunflowers. The final
seven or eight miles to Sage Creek was by way of dirt road.
The campground was a ring with thirty or so parking spots.
The grassy infield of the ring was populated with tent campers. We found an off-road
spot on concrete like dirt with a covered picnic table. Parallel to our site was
a very active to a prairie dog range. Beyond the range there were sleepy rolling
hills more grass sage and juniper. Not long after we got there we heard
coyotes howling in the hills and there was a bison sighting in an open field. It was
We had some cheese, crackers, drinks, tunes and as the sun set a billion stars stepped forward filled the night sky. I sat with my head bent upwards for so long my neck hurt in the morning.