As I stood there gazing out past the golden prairie I could see it in the distance, another realm, another world, another planet. Badlands National Park, South Dakota..this is the stuff of storybooks.
We felt as if we were on the edge of the world looking back at a world we knew and understood while in front of us was a future we knew nothing about. Do we dare cross over the golden prairie and into the unknown realm, clueless of what life, if any, exists in this vast unforgiving lunar land?
Its moments, and places, like these that cause a flood of curiosity and send our minds whirling with questions, fantasies and possibilities of whats really out there.
I couldn’t help but look up at the moon and wonder if this wasteland was a mirrored reflection or if this is possibly the closest I will ever come to standing on the moon.
A tiny blue bird in the distance sings a gleeful tune as if the sun were shining, the grass were green and flowers were in bloom. Does this little bird of indigo know where he is? Does he see the same lunar landscape we do?
In fact, these somewhat familiar animals all seem to go about as if nothing is out of the ordinary. Maybe we really are on another planet, surrounded by aliens and protected by our national parks pass. See, I told you our minds go whirling in places like this.
Should you decide to make a lunar landing at Badlands National Park here is what we learned:
Go Off Trail
You are allowed, almost encouraged, to go off trail and hike anywhere inside the park, so do it! There’s nothing like blazing your own trail, discovering things not marked on a guide map and feeling really out there in it. Just don’t forget where you came from.
Slippery When Wet
The moody clouds and storms treated us with a solace and otherworldly experience, but it was an extremely slippery one. The seemingly hard clay turns into one giant slip and slide! Miles of pooling water and small rushing rivers form in what seems like minutes. So be prepared to get wet, muddy and be mindful of where you hike down, because you may not make it back up.
Camp Here, Then There
The Cedar Pass campground ($18 dry or $30 full hookup) near the visitor’s center is closest to the main attractions so you may want to spend half your time camped here.
Then we suggest heading out to the Sage Creek campground (free) for a totally different experience. It’s about an hour’s drive from the visitor’s center on the opposite end of the park. It is Wild Camping with no services but they do have a vault toilet, a trash can and recycling!
We had decent cell/data service near the main areas of the park closest to the visitor’s center. Outside of that, service is in-and-out unless you have a cell booster. This was especially the case at the Sage Creek campground. Without our booster we had zero bars of cell service and no data, once we amplified the signal with our booster we had 3 bars 4g and were able to stream Netflix! It never ceases to amaze me when we go from Zero to Streaming when we’re Wild Camping, thank you technology!
For those that have been asking about what cameras we use, this is for you: These photos were all taken with our new sony action cam (because it’s water proof) and sony a6000. We’ll have full reviews soon but so far both have been worthy additions to our documenting arsenal and we’ve added both to our store if you want to check them out.
Have you been to Badlands National Park? Do you have a favorite hike, memory or tip you would like to share? Have a question or want to know more about our experience? Let us know in the comment box below!