Alaska 2008

Rapid City, SD

22 June 2008

General Information

Destination Map

Photographs and Commentary
Click on pictures to enlarge

Today we headed southeast to the Badlands National Park and the adjacent Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. Together the park and grasslands contain one of the largest protected prairie grasslands in the country. The Panorama of the grasslands below is what a lot of the prairie looked like in the 1800s. The grasslands supported huge herds of buffalo which were hunted to near extinction. The buffalo we photographed today represent a comeback for the species. As you can see in the picture below, the herds are small. The grasslands also supported many prairie dog towns. Destruction of prairie dog habitat led to the reduction of their numbers and caused the near extinction of the Blackfooted ferrets.

The Badlands contain canyons, towering spires and flat-topped mesas. The badlands were created from sediment from rivers, a shallow inland sea and volcanic ash over millions of years. They began eroding about 500,000 years and it is estimated that they will be gone in another 500,000 years (a good thing we came here now). In the visitors center there was a display that showed a US Geological survey marker that was flush with the rock in which it was imbedded. Forty years later, one foot of the rock is gone. All over the Badlands you can see the work of wind and water as they erode the rocks. The Badlands look as through nothing could live here, but they are home to coyotes, porcupines, bighorn sheep, bobcats, buffalo, prairie rattlesnake, prairie dogs and other animals. Most of the animals must have been on vacation elsewhere because all we saw were a few prairie dogs, buffalo and one mule deer.

Our route today was the Badlands Loop Road which we accessed by exiting I-90 at Wall. The route heads south into the Badlands and then curves east and finally north to rejoin I-90 at Cactus Flat. On returning to Rapid City, we once again stopped in Wall to see Wall Drug Store. We only spent a brief period of time in the store (long enough for me to buy a leather cowboy hat). The drug store and the town seem to be created to capture tourists and judging by the crowded parking areas, it works. If you go into Wall with the knowledge of what it is, it can be a fun place... just not the kind of place we like to spend much time in.

Buffalo Gap National Grasslands



Buffalo on the grasslands

Imagine buffalo as far as the eye could see

Prairie Dog Prairie Dog
Prairie Dogs (picture at left by Susie)

Badlands National Park

Badlands Panorama


Badlands Scene

Badlands Scene

Badlands Scene Badlands Scene
Badlands Scene Badlands Scene
View from Visitors Center Badlands National Park
Sam at Visitors Center

Sue at Badlands National Park

What, me worry?


Teardrop Trailer

We spotted this teardrop trailer at one of the viewing areas in Badlands National Park. Believe it or not it sleeps two, albeit not at the comfort level of our trailer


Wall Drug

Wall Drug

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