After trekking through Nebraska which was an interesting adventure all on its own, we arrived at Badlands National Park in Southwestern South Dakota, about an hour or so east of the Black Hills. There are only 2 campgrounds in the park, and one has no water, so we were really hoping that the main camping space had some empty sites since its first-come first-serve. Thankfully it did, and our driving was done for the evening. The sun was setting fast so we strolled over to a formation people were climbing all over and it had a great view to watch day turn to night.
Once the sun was gone, but before it got too dark, we pitched the tent. There were 2 crickets right on top of each other that were really cool. It was nice to see them alive and not being butchered by our car.
We spent the evening browsing the gift shop, using the wi-fi, checking in with our parents and laying out on the plains star-gazing. When the nearest town isn't for miles the stars illuminate the night sky like you wouldn't believe. One of nature's wonders for sure.
Next morning we woke, packed up the car and headed out on our drive through the park. We had to fit in Mount Rushmore later in the afternoon so we purposely didn't plan on any long hikes, though they certainly would have been fun. There was one short hike we took that was neat as it took you along an overlook then up close to the formations, through the woods and ended in a meadow-y area. Fantabulous. With no clouds in the sky and the weather not blazing hot we couldn't have asked for a better day.
The drive through the park has a ton of pull-overs, stops, overlooks...you name it. We stopped at the main ones each offering a unique viewpoint. In a way, all the erosion looks the same, but they're all different in shape, size, color. They could be red and round or tan and sharp. The flora around was also beautiful. Most of the park is grass and plains, but we saw sunflowers, white flowers I couldn't tell you the name of and others.
The fauna was also a sight to see since we don't have prairie dogs and buffalo in New England. Yes, we do have deer but no matter what, being close to wildlife is exciting. The prairie dogs were the first we saw and there were plenty of holes scattering the earth with the animals running in and out of their underground compound. Just as cute as I remembered. We also saw a herd of buffalo, babies included, in a section of the park known for their roaming. It was about 20 minutes down a dirt road but well worth the drive.