We like to come to the Badlands area in South Dakota because of the abundant wildlife. The scenery is beautiful, but the wildlife is what brings us here. We picked Wall, South Dakota as our base camp because of its convenient access to the park. We like to go to the park in early morning or late evening, so a local campsite makes it much easier. We also love Custer State Park for wildlife viewing and it is accessible from a base camp in Wall although a bit of a drive. Wind Cave National Park is just south of Custer National Park and we have not been there. We decided to go to Wind Cave National Park and go through Custer State Park since they are located close together. On the way back, we figured we would take the scenic route through Badlands National Park. It was a lot for one day, but doable.
We woke up at 4:30 in the morning (just before sunrise) to head to Wind Cave National Park. We left from Wall, South Dakota, so we drove on the interstate for about 45 miles. (Wall was named for the geographic formations in the Badlands National Park. The town is most famous for the Wall Drug Store which is a pharmacy that opened in 1931 but developed into a roadside attraction.) The speed limit was 80 mph and I was driving. I cannot remember the last time I was able to drive that fast. There were very few vehicles on the road. It was a little intimidating to me. I know I could have driven slower but relished the opportunity to go that fast.
We made good time and entered Custer State Park, which is just north of Wind Cave National Park where we saw lots of deer, pronghorn, and bison. We drove on the wildlife loop until we could head south to Wind Cave National Park where we saw more wildlife and beautiful scenery. I love the Blackhills, which is the mountain range in southwest South Dakota. There is lush grass beneath conifers with lots of beautiful streams surrounded by wildflowers.
We thought we got our fill of baby prairie dogs after our visits to Badlands National Park, but not so. I can never get my fill of cute babies. We spent a lot of time driving slowly through some of the prairie dog towns in Wind Cave National Park and taking pictures of all those cute little baby prairie dogs. Almost every picture was taken from the car. If we leave the car, the prairie dogs scatter into their holes.
We stopped several times to enjoy the scenery and had a picnic lunch under a shady tree next to a small stream where there was a dedication to Bison Bob 1906-2006 (maybe 2009?). This is worth looking into. We don’t have good internet access, so we’ll research later. I think Dart was glad to get out of the car for a bit and I was able to wash my hands (after a messy baked potato) in the local stream.
On the way back, we took the scenic route and came back through Badlands National Park. We stopped at a favorite bridge where we have seen cliff swallows. Regis took the time to get some video of the activity. We tried to take pictures last time we came by the bridge, but the swallows were too fast so video was the way to go. Click here.
As we continue to travel, we find that most places do not require interaction with a human to proceed. For example, we were able to pay for the State Park access with cash in an envelope. We got gas without going inside. We are staying in a campground that we paid for online and did not have to check-in when we arrived. Some of the vault toilets in the parks are open and I have sanitizer for afterwards. As always, It is best to be prepared in case there is no toilet paper and/or sanitizer.
I do not have sufficient internet access to preview this post, so I am hoping for the best. Most of it appears to be okay, so I’m going to publish. If all the pictures aren’t there, I apologize.