The Badlands of South Dakota. What a wide-open and cavernous landscape. June 2019.
The Lakota people dubbed this region “mako sica,” or “badlands,” long ago because its rocky terrain, lack of water, and extreme temperatures made it difficult to traverse. It stretches 244,000 acres with sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires.
There are many trails to hike (be mindful of snakes) and enjoy beautiful flowers and quiet spaces. Bighorn Sheep, Bison, Butteries, and Black-Footed Ferrets live there and some are visible from your vehicle. People enjoy camping in the Badlands... it is really quiet, but be mindful that Bison that roam the land.
Near the Badlands is the Minuteman Missile Silo Museum and Mt. Rushmore. If you have the time, both were interesting. Although, Mt. Rushmore seemed to be more touristy and the was a parking fee. The Minuteman Missile Silo Museum offers tours of one of the underground silos, but be sure to get your reservations in advance if that's top on your list.
We stayed in an Air B & B in Sturgis that was an hour from the Badlands and Custer State Park. It was a two-hour round trip, but a beautiful drive and we appreciated the open road. Sturgis has a nice grocery store that we took advantage of to grab sandwiches and drinks on our way to the Park. We packed the cooler for most of the five-week trip. It saved a lot of money and was way easier than finding a place to dine after a long hike.
We loved the Badlands and ventured there again in October of 2020. The weather was much different tha when we visited in June of 2019. In October, South Dakota weather can be sunny and warm one day, but snow-filled and windy the next. Pack extra cold-weather clothes and water.