Today we go to the Badlands National Park for a hike. After the hike, we visit Wall Drugs which is a very big tourist trap.
We started out early because it was going to be in the 90's by early afternoon. It is about an hour drive from the RV park. As we drove into the park a herd of Buffalo (yep still not calling them Bison) were at the entrance. Some of the males were huge.
The prairie dogs were yipping at the Buffalo walking through their "town". It did not look like the Buffalo even noticed all their efforts.
There are several areas referred to as "Badlands" and usually is from the difficulty in traveling through the area on horseback or wagon. The geology is a layering of mud, sand, and volcanic ash. The ash is in several colors which with the other materials gives the land a strange painted look.
Animal fossils have been found of sea creatures, three toed horses, saber tooth, and other animals. The first people in the area hunted Mammoth. Later it was used by the indian tribes. The canyons were useful to trap game such as Buffalo. The overlooks give amazing views of the formations. Volcanic ash forms most of the geology.
When wagon trains came west the area was avoided but some found the area useful for homesteading. The land around the park is prairie and the homesteaders planted farms and grazed animals like cattle and sheep.
We did have to stop for a few minutes to allow a Bighorn Sheep cross the road.
The drive through the park gives stunning views of the geology. This is a bit long but I could only cut out so much of the original video.
Our hike was a bit challenging. The beginning and end of the hike is a steep cliff so up and down to the same transition of elevation. It is challenging because much of it is a rock scramble. The formations are amazing.
First, we hiked Saddle Pass trail which connects to Medicine Root Loop trail and finally returns to Saddle Pass on part of the Castle Trail. Our elevation change is only 337 feet and the length of the hike was 4.5 miles with much of the hike through the prairie.
Of course, all most all our trails are considered difficult.
We took pictures of some very pretty flowers.
Near the end of the hike, we left the prairie and returned to the fascinating geology the park is known for having.
As we hiked around a large formation, we saw a group of 10 Bighorn Sheep standing and laying down in a grass field. The male was keeping watch of what we were doing but soon must have decided we were not a threat because he returned to eating and then even laid down with the rest of the group.
After passing the sheep, we turned back onto the Saddle Pass Trail and made our way back down the cliff to return to the truck.
Our last bit of wildlife was a huge mule deer doe standing just off the road. With ears like that, I doubt anyone would ever be able to sneak up on her.
We stopped at a couple of overlooks for some interesting pictures and incredable views.
After the park, we drove to the town of Wall to visit Wall Drugs.
In the 1930's, the town of Wall was failing and most of the people had no income because a drought had destroyed the recent harvests. After purchasing the Drug store in 1931, Ted Hustead noticed that people were traveling through the area but not stopping. At his wife's suggestion, he decided to offer free cold water and 5 cent coffee to influence them to stop. It worked and the town was saved by the tourists buying food and staying in the motel. Soon word was passed that it was a good stop for a break when crossing prairie. It seems that he just had to keep out doing himself each year. The store was added to with a soda fountain, cafe, donut and fudge shops,... It snowballed from there and now includes a western store, camping store, book store, jewelry stores, and of course a drug store. Today Wall Drugs covers an entire city block of interconnected shops selling every kind of tourist junk you can think up and some serious things too. It is so big that they hand out a free map. The advertising on the highway is out 100 miles east and west along the interstate. We enjoyed looking at the photos along several long walls. They were all very old with many pictures of Custer, his cavalry, Annie Oakley, Indians, Cowboys, Chuck wagons, Wagon Trains,... All real photos.
They even have some things to distract the kids (or the young at heart).
The drive back we were looking at clouds raining on the Black Hills and hoping to get home before it got to the RV park.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...