Badlands South Dakota

After a long drive from Illinois to South Dakota, we booked a room in Rapid City. It was too late to get a spot at the campground for the night. But, we did manage to get a spot for the next night.

Our morning started with the realization that I underestimated the distance from Rapid City to Interior SD. It is a 1.5+ hour drive. We made it to the KOA campground and got checked in for the day. Though we were early, they were very nice and got is set with a space. Then we were off.

The first destination was Cedar View, which is a less traveled area. We drove through back roads,  up to an amazing view. Unfortunately, to go further, you need a high-clearance vehicle… a 4×4. But, as far as we got, it was still a great view. Checkout some of these pics and vids.

The more popular part of the Badlands is closer to Interior, SD, which is where our campground was.

The Castle Trail Hike

We took  the Castle Trail, which is about 10 miles round trip. The hike through the Badlands is fairly rough. A fair amount of climbing up and down on very uneven paths while trying to follow markers that are not always easy to find. 

This is in May, with temperatures ranging from about 30  to 65 degrees fahrenheit.  It is a great temperature for the longer hike. But, even with the mild weather, the sun is intense. I had a full brim hat to protect from the sun. And, no matter the temp, water is important. We had enough, but we couldn’t indulge too much.

Water in the Badlands

There is standing water in areas still (May), with one grass area more like a marshland. On the path we saw where water was flowing, pooling and starting to dry out. One of the more interesting aspects was that the silt was so fine, that the dried out areas were solid and smooth. In this photo we can see how the partially dried areas appear.

The land is splitting from water erosion at a quick pace. With mudrock and sandstone, the area is more sensitive to the effects of water and evaporation. As you follow the trail, you notice that it is being modified regularly as the ground sinks and splits the path.  

There are also many holes that range from a foot to several feet in diameter. It looks like the same effect of the water and evaporation.

Plants in the Badlands

In spring, with the abundance of water, the Badlands are very green. From grasses to flowers and cacti, I was surprised by the amount of green plants. Yellow sweet clover, common cottonrose, purple locoweed were some of the flowers.

Our next Stop

Originally we planned to go to Yellowstone right from the Badlands. But Logan thought about Devils Tower. So our next stop is a bit of a detour, heading to the tower and then down to Yellowstone.


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