Road Trip USA 2022

The Badlands

Badlands National Park in South Dakota

We start with a small breakfast and filter coffee directly at the motel. It's only a 10 minute drive to the entrance, our first stop of Badlands National Park. As soon as we arrive, it quickly becomes clear that this is a barren area with rock formations and grassland. In addition, even at 10 a.m. it is already 86°F (30°C). In total, the park is around 385 sq mi (1000 km²) in size and we will only see a part of it.

We take the Notch Trailhead to immerse ourselves in the rocky landscape. Right at the entrance, we are greeted by a sign that warns us about rattlesnakes. OK, so open your eyes! At first the path is quite relaxed, but then it becomes more and more challenging. The highlight is the 100 ft (30 m) long climb over a kind of oversized rope ladder. Once at the top, we continue a little further until we reach a point from which we have a panoramic view of the entire plain of the Badlands.

Notch Trail at Badlands National Park View over the Badlands National Park in South Dakota prairie dogs at Badlands National Park

Although the hiking trail is only about 1.25 mi (2 km) long, it takes us almost 2 hours in total. At around 12 p.m. we set off towards Wall, a small town north of the Badlands. We take the US 240 and stop at some overlooks from time to time. We can observe a few prairie dogs and get different perspectives on the rock formations.

colorful rock formations at Badlands National Park

What's going on in Wall? There's actually no real reason to go to Wall, but friends of mine were in the area a few years ago and said I should check out the Wall Drug Store. It's another typical American thing. I would describe it as a huge souvenir store with entertainment and food options in the middle of nowhere.

Wall Drug Store

Speaking of food, it's already coffee time. We grab a few slices of fudge and some ice cream.

Indoor area Wall Drug Stores Souvenirs
Drug Store Fresh Fudge at Wall Drug Store

Now we continue to Rapid City, where we have an apartment for the next night. It is very modern and stylishly furnished and also offers us the opportunity to wash and dry our clothes.

For the evening, I had already booked seats at the Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper & Show. This is a music dinner show at a movie location from "Dances with Wolves" with Kevin Costner. At the start of the show we are all given a plate and pot and get our food - brisket, baked beans, a baked potato, apple sauce and a piece of cake. Plus a lemonade. I get a Root Beer for my dad so he can try it too. Personally, I don't have to have it anymore and I don't really know how to describe the taste. However, it is only somewhat enjoyable when ice cold.

After dinner the music show begins. It's a mix of different styles of music, accompanied by a bit of variety and very entertaining. All in all a lovely evening.

Fort Hays in Rapid City Brisket and beans on a tin plate Fort Hays Chuckwagen Music Show

At night we get to know another American peculiarity. A railroad line runs right next to our accommodation. The most unfortunate thing about this is that the train drivers have to honk loudly and intensively at every level crossing.

The badlands do not offer any shaded areas. It is therefore very important, especially in the summer, that you take enough water with you, wear a hat and of course use a sunscreen with a very high sun protection factor. Sunglasses are also very important because the light stones reflect the light extremely.
Website Badlands National Park

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