Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Badlands/White River KOA

Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday, July 10th Happy Birthday Jody!!!

We slept in some today and then got up ate breakfast and headed on our way for the Badlands. It was about an hour and a half drive from the campground to get to Sage Creek Road, which would lead in to the badlands. I was a little concerned when we turned on Sage Creek Road because it was an unpaved road and I felt that we were being illegal, but Jared informed me we were fine. We were on the unpaved road for about 25 miles until we got to the Badlands Loop road. While on Sage Creek we stopped at the Sage Creek Basin Overlook and the Badlands Wilderness Overlook.  You would think that we would see some wildlife at the Badlands Wilderness Overlook, but this did not happen. We did see far off in the distance a herd of buffalo while driving and a prairie dog as we drove past the Roberts Prairie Dog Town.

Our first stop after getting on the Badlands Loop was Pinnacles Overlook where we met a park ranger and were given a survey to fill out and send in. The view from every overlook was gorgeous. After we finished up at the Pinnacles Overlook we moved on to Yellow Mounds Overlook, Prairie Wind Overlook, and Panorama Point. Again all views were gorgeous and we took tons of pictures. There are also warnings that say Beware of Rattlesnakes at every stop so we were definitely keeping our eyes open for them. Luckily we didn't see any all day.

After finishing up at all those overlooks we headed to the Fossil Exhibit Trail to do a walk on a boardwalk and check out the fossils that they had in cases.  Next we headed to the Saddle Pass Trail to do a short hike. This hike was only .5 mile one way so we figured that we wouldn't need to bring our water and Jared could do it in his flip flops. We were definitely mistaken. This was a super strenuous hike that climbs up the Badlands Wall to a view over the White River Valley.  It was really steep and the entire trail was loose gravel that we kept slipping in. The views from the top were definitely worth the trip.

Our next stop in the park was to stop at the Visitor's Center to try to find a bottle opener magnet. They did not have any so we opted to not buy a magnet.  When we finished up at the Visitor's Center we headed to a parking area for the Door Trail, Window Trail and the Notch Trail. We decided to do the Notch Trail first and this time we had our water and Jared put on his hiking boots. The Notch Trail is a 1.5 mile round trip, but it is a moderate to strenuous hike. The trail leads you through a canyon until you reach a log ladder to climb and then hike along the edge of the canyon until you reach "the Notch."  It was an amazing view of the White River Valley. It really was gorgeous and well worth the hike. Once finishing up with the Notch Trail we took the short .25 mile Window Trail. This was on a boardwalk and lead to a natural window in the Badlands Wall with a view of an intricately eroded canyon. It was a pretty view at the end, but did not really look very "window-like," as we expected.

When we finished up with our trails we headed up to the Big Badlands Overlook for one final look at the Badlands. Although we didn't see much wildlife throughout our day we did really enjoy the Badlands. The trails that weren't boardwalks were really cool because you could go different ways to meet up with the trail and you couldn't really tell you were on an organized trail besides random markers. It would have been easy to lose your way, which was cool because it didn't seem as commercialized as some other places do.

We decided to spend the night at a KOA that was 10 miles south of the Badlands.  It is a nice place and since we were so hot from our hikes in the intense heat we decided to take a dip in the pool before dinner. When were finished up we showered and then headed over to their food building to get some Indian tacos (which are tacos but instead of a tortilla they used Indian Fry Bread) and chicken nuggets. Both food options were delicious. After dinner we worked on some plans, blogged and relaxed.
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