Leaving The Black Hills behind, we drove East towards The Badlands. For years I’d been waiting to see these hills after reading about them in our US map. Something about the picture – just the one picture – spoke to me. I had to go.
I was not disappointed.
The Badlands is one of those places to which no photograph can do justice, regardless of the photographer’s skill. The scale of the hills and the transition from the gully in front of you to the ridges in the distance is not something that a camera can capture. A lens might color the capture perfectly, but the scale will always be lost.
The Badlands don’t offer as much hiking as many national parks, but the roads through do a very good job of providing scenic viewpoints (there are a lot of them, too). The main visitor center supplies exceptional information and resources, as well as lots of workshops like how to take photographs and how to find stars at night. It’s all cool stuff. The Northernmost road is paved, but I must recommend the Southern route as well. Because it is passed over, the road West of the White River Visitor Center displays a quiet, personal touch to the hills. By all means drive the whole thing, but make sure to venture into the Southwestern park of the park as well. You’ll be well rewarded.
I could try to go on and on about The Badlands, but it’s a visual thing. So though I previously lamented the limitations of photographs, here are some photographs.
If you have the night, camp in the park. There are two campsites, Cedar Pass in the East and Sage Creek in the West. Sage Creek is free, right next to a Prairie Dog town, and tucked down away from the wind. Unfortunately, however, there are no views of the hills, so visually there is very little. If you want lots of photographs of the hills or any photographs of the hills with stars, stay at Cedar Pass.
Our route and timeline made Sage Creek our only option. Shiz was very excited for star photos and this campground did not disappoint.