The moment I put on a Stetson, Bello said “that’s the one.” Is it possible cowboy hats are a bit like a wedding dresses or wizard’s wands. Do good hats pick you? Whatever the case may be, make sure you bring a hat, any hat that throws shade when visiting Badlands National Park.
With not a cloud in the sky, the words “Blazin’ Hot” rings true here. Petrified earth cracks and crumbles under the full heat of the Sun.
244,000 acres demand a long day of exploration. Hikes provide a break from the tourist shuffle but not a lick of shade.
Walks are worth it for any photographer though. From the White River Valley Overlook.
To the rainbow hues of Yellow Mounds Overlook.
One of the things I loved most about the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, is that it’s not overly touristy. Which does mean, you won’t be able to swoop into a shop easily once you’re in the park.
Planning ahead will save you the drive back out to Wall Drug. Trust me, this is a joke you’ll get after driving to the Badlands.
A tip for the “casual hiker” make sure to enter the Castle Trail hiking paths from the Fossil Exhibit Trail.
Otherwise, the stop just before and after the Cedar Pass Lodge… get steeper. Like, there is a sign up board for hikers at the entrance of the trails, you know, just in case, kinda steeper.
In this section of the park, you’ll find Sharps Formations peaking into the skies that date back 28-30 Million years. Hiking through these is a must, but again, no shade. Hat, sunscreen, water, check!
Chances are good you’ll see the parks wildlife. Well yes, the little guys like this Praying Mantis but also the big guys.
Bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs even black-footed ferrets, we saw them all. Without proper long lens though, catching a shot worth sharing is tricky.
What you didn’t see those bighorns? Waldo can be easier to spot.
When it comes to finding the best spot to watch the Sunset in the Badlands skip the first stop at the Pinnacles Overlook. Stop just seconds later at the second one. Far fewer people drive to the second stop.
We got there at Dusk, just as the mixed-grass prairie started glowing.
We spotted the Moon’s rise.
just as the Sun began to fall over Pinnacles Overlook.
Here’s the final tip. The secret my Husband shared with me years ago. Stick around for a good twenty minutes after sunset.
Yes, the moment the Sun kisses the horizon is very romantic but the best Sunset colors are sky. They don’t rise until all the other tourists have left for dinner.
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I’ll be sharing all our favorite stops from last week’s Cross-Country Road Trip including many National Parks. We’d love for you to relive the journey with us here on ALOR, Twitter: @ALORGypsyTip or on Instagram.
Piccola & Bello