Our last major stop on our East Coast Escape Road Trip was Badlands National Park in South Dakota. We arrived in the evening just in time to head into the park for some star gazing. A huge full moon made star watching difficult, but lit up the surrounding landscape giving the night a truly magical feel.
The next day we were in the park bright and early to try and get some hiking in before the temperature rose. Most visitors to the park only drive the loop road stopping at the scenic overlooks, so once you get off the road you pretty much have the park to yourself. We decided to hike towards Deer Haven and didn’t encounter any other visitors.
Hiking through the badlands is like being on the surface of another planet where someone made hundreds of dribble castles out of sand. There are a variety of formations and the colors can be quite spectacular. The Younger Fives had a blast climbing the various outcroppings, but soon found out that even though the formations are highly prone to erosion (The Badlands average one inch of erosion per year) they are very rough and can really scrape up your skin.
As the sun moved overhead the valley floor quickly heated up and all too soon it was time to return to the car and continue on towards home. As we drove away from the Badlands we all agreed that this national park ranks as one of our top favorites, and we all hope for a return visit.