Saturday, June 3, 2017

Badlands National Park, part 2

Saturday, June 3
After all the dark clouds and wind yesterday we woke up to a beautiful clear, sunny day. Perfect for touring! After breakfast and all the usual chores we loaded the pups in the truck and headed west on Badlands Loop Rd. With the good light the sculptured layers really were showy.

Big Foot Pass

One of our first stops was the beautiful pink and white stripped area known as Big Foot Pass. Not the Big Foot of forest fame, this was a Sioux leader who took his band through this pass to participate in the battle of Wounded Knee.

This is rough terrain to travel in moccasins, or any other footwear for that matter. They knew the trails through this area well though, as it was their hunting ground - antelope, big horn sheep, and bison were here in abundance in those days.

I'm not sure what the Sioux did with the Prairie dogs  back then, but if they were a food source the tribe ate well. We have never seen such huge areas marked with the little piles of dirt that mark each borrow. Several of the very large meadows we passed were totally overrun with the little devils. They are cute, but at this point, the novelty has worn off!

The loop drive has several large pullouts for parking and a few have short trails so you can get out closer to the hills. The crowds have been minimal, so there's no trouble finding a parking space. The road is narrow, so these viewpoints are the only safe ways to get photos.

The yellow mounds area is really striking as it's about the only area in the park where the soils show the yellow colors. Various shades of reds, orange and grays are most common.

We rounded a corner after one view point and came across a small group of mountain sheep. They are so accustomed to traffic that they don't bat an eye, as long as the traffic is moving slowly.

At the Pinnacles overlook the paved road ends and a good gravel road named Sage Creek Rim Road picks up. We followed that through more views overlooking the Badlands Wilderness area, past a large herd of bison off in the distance, and then south into an area outside the national park - a good place for Watch and Shiner to have a romp.They seem to enjoy the variety in scenery almost as much as we do, and it was good for all of us to get out and stretch.

Back to camp for lunch and then spend a little time in the visitor's center. We were there last year but a review never hurts. Unfortunately their fossil lab was closed. Last year we watched several techs at work cleaning specimens and had a nice chat with the ranger in charge of that project.

Back in camp we enjoyed walking the dogs and talking with other campers. Our neighbors are visiting from Holland. We meet such interesting people as we travel!

Tomorrow morning we pack up and head for Rapid City.

Badlands album

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