I never dreamed I would find one of the coolest places on my summer roadtrip in South Dakota. Who even knew there was anything in South Dakota?
I left my new favorite northern city of Minneapolis around midday for the 7 or so hour drive to the eastern edge of the Badlands National Park. I had my new little Volvo all set up for car camping, with a super cool portable shower, tea kettle and mini blender for morning shakes and comfy memory foam mattress in the back. It's definitely not outback roughing it or anything, but it was fun not being in a hotel. I arrived at the park entrance just in time for a gorgeous sunset and a ranger talk. This place is cool...not like Yosemite chock full of tourists, busses, and a fancy lodge and shops. Really there wasn't much of anything other than a campground and a mini amphitheater where they have several nice telescopes to view the night sky. With almost zero light pollution, the sky was amazing!
Car camping in the little campground was an adventure thanks to sizeable storm that blew through around 2am the first night. In the talk that the rangers gave that evening, they told about the storms that came through on Friday (this was Monday night) that produced 2 tornados. So, when I was awoken by freight train-like wind noise in the middle of the night, it scared the crap out of me. I jumped up and out of the car to find all of the other campers also out of their tents just watching the spectacular light show and half wondering (as I was) if we should worry. Turns out, we only got hit by the edge of the giant cell, so nothing all that severe. But, it did produce the coolest horizontal lightning I've ever seen, nonstop for a solid half hour.
The hiking in the Badlands is like everything else there, pretty deserted, in the best possible way. On my first full day there, I went for a 8 mile loop through and around all the rock formations. I counted exactly 7 other hikers on my trail. Gotta love that! I wish I had a good photographer with me to capture the scenery. My pictures just don't do it justice.
I want to go back...soon!