We made a whirlwind trip this past weekend to one of the most bizarre landscapes in the country. The cratered mud-rock of the Badlands looked like the surface of a foreign planet – red and cracked dry. Charlie and I loved it! For hours, we clambered up ridges, watched carefully for wildlife and took pictures.
The whole trip started Saturday morning after we had packed a cooler full of water bottles and Tupperware containers of pre-cooked food. We piled into our trusty Solara and followed SD 44 W through the rolling hills of Rosebud and Pine Ridge. The highway took us to Interior, SD where we stopped at the visitor center and bought ice cream cones. (The temperature had reached 104 degrees F, so the ice cream wasn’t optional.)
For the rest of the afternoon we explored the craggy landscape. Charlie made me nervous by climbing up one of the highest ridges and waving his arms at me. (I stayed below and took pictures.) He said it was much harder than he thought it would be. The crumbling mud made it difficult to find hand holds, and he didn’t want to climb in the ravines in case there were rattle snakes. Until sunset, we cruised along the park roads, stopping at all the overlooks, pulling over to watch prairie dogs and bighorn sheep. There were also meadowlarks, pronghorns, chipmunks, toads, mule deer and one porcupine!
At Dillon Pass we watched the sunset – admiring the golden pink hues that slowly flooded the valley. Behind us, the full moon rose slowly into the sky – the moon when the choke berries are black.
I persuaded Charlie to watch the sunrise with me the next morning. How many times do you get to see daybreak at the Badlands mmm? So we woke up at 4 am, quietly took down our tent in the dark and drove to the nearest lookout point. There’s something thrilling about being the only people awake to experience something so divinely beautiful. As fingers of morning light brought everything to life, Charlie and I sat on a rocky ledge and read from the book of Hebrews. Swallows dipped and dove in the pink light and meadowlarks began singing their hearts out. No church service could have surpassed that worshipful sunrise in God’s creation!
Our trip concluded with one last hike through a rugged valley before the day got too hot. It will be an adventure we never forget. Who knows? Maybe we’ll drop by once more on our way to the Black Hills :)