Badlands National Park appears rather suddenly among the grasslands of South Dakota. These seemingly harsh lands are the result of millions of years of earth’s ever-changing climate. This is a landscape of extremes.
We arrived yesterday to clear blue skies and warm temperatures, the first we’ve had in two and a half weeks. Pulling into the first parking lot we came to, we set off on two short walks, eager to get a taste of such a foreign landscape. Surprisingly, trail markers led us off the path to freely walk among the peaks and gullies. We later learned that Badlands is a sort of “open range” park. Visitors are allowed to walk anywhere as long as the environment is respected.
Day two found us on the Castle Trail, a 10 or 12 mile (depending on which map or trail marker you believe) round trip that led us through some of the spectacular park formations and out onto the open grasslands. We had hoped to see some of the wildlife that call the park home and were a little disappointed to only see a few deer in the distance. But, it was a gorgeous day and we were outside in an eerily beautiful national park…not a bad place to be!