Friday, August 21, 2009

The Badlands of South Dakota and Buffalo Gap Grasslands

Badlands National Park, South Dakota
I wasn't sure what to expect. We have been in the Badlands of New Mexico, but thought South Dakota's Badlands would be different, and they sure are! We all thought they were a cross between the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert, both in Arizona. It was beautiful, yet so seemingly dead. The colors were gray, brown, and a layer of red here and there. The peaks rose sharply in the sky and deep ravines dug into the earth.

This is a fossil mine; yet I was disappointed to find out the fossils you see on the Fossil Trail are fake. We were hoping to see the real ones.

We went on a Saturday and brought our ATVs. We found numerous sites online that told us we could go off roading in the Badlands. We were excited as we drove east out of Custer, where we stayed, through Custer State Park then north towards Rapid City and onto Badlands National Park. We would have gone what seemed a shorter way through the Sioux Indian Reservation, but two people told us not to. They said the crime is horrible. That if we broke down, we would come back to our vehicle stripped down to nothing. I used to live on an Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin. Yes, there is crime, but there is everywhere. I hope these people were not just prejudice against these Indians. I know many nice Indians, or maybe it is more politically correct to say Native Americans, I'm not sure. Where I grew up, they were called Indians and proud of it. It is a subject that I could avoid in my posts. Prejudice is a serious word. Some would say that different prejudices are earned while others are passed down.  Either way, we try to teach our children to be open minded and judge fairly - lest we be judged.  (off my soap box now)

First, we entered the Buffalo Gap Grasslands. It was pretty with the Badland Buttes in the background. We saw lots of prairie dogs, deer, and a few people. There are a few motels, but all were booked up for the night.

We went to the Visitor's Center on the Park. One ranger said we could ride our ATVs on the Badlands National Park and the other Ranger said we couldn't. They didn't seem to get along either! So, to play it safe, we stayed off the National Park and road in the Buffalo Gap Grasslands just to the south. It was amazing. Riding on our 4 wheelers is a great way to enjoy the scenery. There aren't all the people and cars. Just us and the land. We road for a long time while the guys enjoyed the hills and buttes.

The rocks there are so smooth. We figure from the constant wind blowing the sand over them. 
There was a prairie dog ghost town. We found out the prairie dogs have the plague! Yes, the actual plague! Signs are everywhere that tell people not to get out of there cars at the prairie dog towns. We stayed well clear of those, or at least most of us did, but that is another story.

We bought a map at the Visitor's Center that showed the grasslands boundaries. There is a lot of room to ride. Shae and Cody enjoyed the berms and hills. We rode for hours and had a wonderful time. We decided we wanted to come back the next day but like I said before, we couldn't find a motel, so we headed home. The next morning we drove back and the guys rode some more. Shae was pretty sore so didn't want to ride all day. I guess he is getting old...he he he. The kids and I went to the Visitor's Center and did Junior Ranger.
Then onto the beautiful scenic drive. The buttes go up so high and down so low. We took a couple pictures of the butte cracks in a few rocks for the guys...ha ha. They thought we were funny. The kids and I didn't get to ride, just Shae and Cody.

When we got back to the riding area a wind storm hit and we had to get in the van. Sand was flying everywhere.
We had such a wonderful time. It was an amazing experience. I definitely recommend you go to this place and bring your ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs!

1 comment:

  1. LOL!! Very funny! Yup, that was an adventure!!! Especially the plauge infested prairie dogs!!! Ha Ha!!


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