Day 68 - Big Heads And Bad Lands
Trip Start May 19, 2008
176Trip End Nov 08, 2008
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Our first destination was Mount Rushmore National Monument. It didn't even qualify as a "brief visit" as we could see it from the road without going into the park and paying the extortionate $10 they wanted for parking. So a few photos later we were heading east and then north again back towards Rapid City. Just before we hit the city limits we turned east again and headed for Badlands National Park. Although it's not the only place in the world to use the term "badland", it was allegedly the first to be so named
As soon as we crossed the boundary into the park we were quite alarmed by a sign which informed people to keep themselves and their pets inside their vehicles as the Prairie Dogs in the area that we were about to pass through were infected with plague! Nice!! Prairie Dogs are small rodents which look similar to Meer Kats or Ferrets and make their homes underground which are easy to spot as they form a sort of "mole hill" which you can often see the Prairie Dogs sitting on top of.
Because of it's odd shape, it would have been difficult to see all of Badlands without doing a really convoluted route which took us out of our general direction. So we settled on seeing a small part of it and taking in the White River visitor centre at the southern edge. The "South Unit" of the park is co-managed between the N.P. service and the Oglala Lakota Indians, as this part of the park is actually in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The centre is staffed predominantly by Indians and after a very interesting chat with a couple of the rangers we headed south again towards Pine Ridge where we made a brief stop for fuel. A mile further south and we crossed the state line into Nebraska
An hour and a half later we stopped off in Chadron for an ice-cream at McDonalds before travelling the last 10 miles or so to Chadron State Park. It's more of a city park than a state park, with tennis courts and a swimming pool and play areas for kids as well as the camping areas, which have showers and a laundry.
We relaxed with a few beers followed by a nice dinner and then it was time to drop the roof as the rain began because the very badly fitted roof canvas leaks, surprise, surprise!
Miles travelled: 262
Total miles travelled: 5450
Days on road: 48
States visited: 11
National Parks visited: 9