Day 2: Badlands & Wildlife Encounters

We started off the day in Oacoma, in a little place called the Oasis Inn. This place didn’t look like much on the outside, but was actually pretty nice! After a very long day on the road, this comfortable bed was just what we both needed.

We drove quite a long distance in the night, passing over the Missouri River in the dark, unable to see anything. So once we checked out & grabbed breakfast, we backtracked to the visitors center/ overlook to snap a few pictures.

This was the first place I’d ever seen “beware poisonous snakes” notices posted. Yikes!

From there, we continued over to Badlands after a long stretch of road. Expansive is the word that comes to mind. When I was a little girl, I remember thinking that there would never be a place for me to build a house because all the land would be taken by then.

Then, at long last, we arrived to park #1: Badlands National Park

It’s gorgeous. It’s amazing. After miles and miles of grassland, the plains drop off and these magnificent rock formations rise up to greet the day.The question I find myself asking over and over is, can you imagine being the first person to stumble across this? Walking across the grassland, and all of a sudden the earth gives way and you see this splendor?

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At Burns Basin overlook, a turnout not even marked on my map, we made a quick stop to watch the prairie dog community–the first animals we had seen on our trip. I love these little guys! They squeak, squeal, and bark at each other, jumping to show their white bellies. It’s so cute & comical, I couldn’t help but laugh at them.

Prairie Dog

The animals that really got me excited were the bison. They just seem to scream “wild west.” These guys are huge! We have some bison farms back home, but these guys are so much bigger. This is exactly what I came out here for, the ability to see things as they are, and not behind a bunch of fencing or glass like at a zoo. What a backdrop!

Sunset Buffalo

We left the park to grab dinner in the town of Wall, SD. We found a little place called The Red Rock Restaurant. Kinda pricey, but really, really good–highly recommended.

On our way back to the park, we went to take the side road to the more remote part of the park, but we met a bit of an obstruction:

big horn sheep in road

We went sunset hunting. It was fabulous, just magical.

Badlands Sunset

Way out in this part of the park is a hidden gem, a free campsite in the middle of a field. After driving around to find a great spot for a few sunset photos, we made our way back to the campground to set up our home-away-from-home. This place was quite serene, complete with hippies in a green bus that serenaded us as twilight turned to evening. I am already thoroughly enjoying this vacation! =)

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