Sunday, June 15, 2014 Happy Father’s Day everyone! We slept in and woke up at 6:30. Yikes! That’s mountain time. It was 8:30 back home. That’s more like it! Our bodies haven’t adjusted yet and the sun was already up. Today we’re starting the 3rd week of our trip. Time really flies! Bob cooked our usual Sunday breakfast and walked Auggie. I packed a picnic lunch and we were ready to see the Badlands. It was about 65 degrees and sunny. The wind was brisk and put a chill in the air. We left Wall and took the Sage Creek Road (Hwy 590) through expanses of rolling grasslands. We got a glimpse of these cowboys actually doing a cattle roundup.
Cruising along we spotted a small herd of pronghorns (antelopes) standing on the ridge.
That was our first wildlife sighting, but it wouldn’t be our last. We entered into the Badlands National Park and took Sage Creek Rim Road. We immediately encountered hundreds of bison (buffalo).
They stood right along the roadside as calm as could be. I couldn’t have planned this picture better, unless I had asked him to pose for me. What are the chances?
There were quite a few new calves hanging around their mammas.
The Sage Creek Rim Road is packed gravel and well worth the drive. It had rained recently, so there wasn’t much dust. We stopped at a few overlooks to check out the view. That’s me down there.
The colors and rock formations were amazing and we had only just begun our adventure. These pictures don’t do justice to the beauty found here.
We stopped at Roberts Prairie Dog Town even though we had spied those little varmints throughout the bison grazing lands.
They are cute little creatures that “chirp” to warn each other of approaching danger and pop in and out of their holes like a jack-in-the-box.
I have fond (and funny) memories of trying to get close enough to get a picture of a prairie dog many years ago on a family trip to SD, right Mom? We ran from hole to hole trying to get that elusive picture on a Kodak camera before they had zoom lenses. We still laugh about it! Thank goodness for that zoom lens now.
As we traveled the scenic Badlands Loop Road through the park, we made multiple stops to get a closer look at nature’s beautiful landscape.
One view was more beautiful than the next.
The road started to meander through the rock formations, climbing and descending.
As we rounded one turn, we came upon 2 pronghorn sheep grazing along the roadside. They were still shedding their winter coat.
That was our 3rd wildlife sighting! We stopped at the Ancient Hunters Overlook where the Indians stampeded the bison off a cliff to injure them and then kill them. Upon looking at the cliff where it happened, we spotted 3 more pronghorn sheep picking their way across the steep slope.
Continuing on, we stopped at the Fossil Exhibit Trail and hiked on the boardwalk to learn what animals may have lived in the area millions of years ago. This “princess” was posing for pictures in her frilly outfit along the path. What’s up with that?
The road finally brought us to the Cedar Pass Campground and Cedar Pass Lodge. (The next two pictures are for our NH friends who will be making this trip in August. We thought they might enjoy seeing the campground firsthand.)
We stopped at a picnic area near the lodge and enjoyed our lunch. By now the wind had died and the warm sun brought up the temperature to a comfortable 73 degrees. We checked out the restaurant at the lodge to see if they had buffalo burgers ($10). I will have a buffalo burger before we leave the area. With full stomachs, we left there to do some hiking a few miles past the lodge. Three trails can be accessed from one parking lot. The trails were short and easy, but it was a great way to break in our new hiking boots. The first trail was the “Notch Trail” which took you to a “notch” in the rocks.
The second trail was the “Window Trail” where through a “window” you can view some interesting formations laced with color.
The final trail was the longest and that was the “Door Trail”. There are markers to follow a path along the rocks above a river bed. That was a lot of fun!
(Note: It disturbs me to see people let their children run wild in these areas, walking and climbing in places they shouldn’t be. Natural erosion I can understand. Human erosion not so much.) Across the road were some longer trails, but those are for another time. This interesting rock formation could be seen across the road.
By now, it had warmed up nicely and we were shedding clothes. We finished up the Badlands Loop Road by making a quick stop at the Prairie Homestead to get a closer look at a pioneer sod home.
That brought us back to Cactus Flats and to the Interstate. We were on our way back to the campground at 1:30. Once we got back, Auggie got to spend some time outdoors. Bob did his repair on the trailer and I had some extra time to do some wash. We sat outside enjoying the sunshine and the rest of a gorgeous day.
We didn’t have any neighbors for most of the afternoon, but around suppertime they started pulling in. Our neighbors were from Illinois, so we filled them in on what to see and do in the area. Bob and I enjoyed cocktails before dinner and sat listening to the songbirds singing nearby. It was the best day yet on this camping adventure. (Notice the pineapple plant and the flamingos. I would imagine that people can figure out that we’re from Florida.)