OTRA - SD - Interior
Sep 16, 2013
|On the road about 10:30 for our journey to Kadoka, SD under overcast skies. The scene is changing from miles of soybeans and corn to include more and more cattle and the addition of sorghum to the crops and from flat lands to gently rolling hills but the roads still go straight on forever. Started seeing signs for Al’s Oasis, a place that turned out to look like a bunch of stores in an old timey western town setting but we drove right on past this one. Crossed the Missouri River and entered the Mountain Time Zone about 85 miles later at 12:08. Started seeing signs for Wall Drug Store along the highway…a little bit like the signs for South of the Border but not as large...on our way to Kadoka.
Well, the original plan was to stop at the Kadoka Campground in Kadoka, SD for 2 nights before moving on to Hermosa where we’ll stay for a bit and visit Mt. Rushmore and the surrounding area BUT, for some reason, I made a backup plan (I have never done this before) and I’m so glad I did. We got to Kadoka and, even though I had called yesterday verifying that they had pull-thru lots, cable TV and Wifi, we quickly found out they had none of that…plus it was just sort of an old dumpy campground that did NOT give me a warm huggy feeling! Very glad to get out of there and drive the 18 additional miles down I-90 then south on 240 then 377 to my “alternate” campground, What’s even neater is that we drove right into the Badlands National Park along the way to the campground! And what made THAT even neater is that we got in free, courtesy of our America the Beautiful – Senior Passes that gives us free access to national parks, monuments,and other federal recreation lands! That pass also gives us half-priced camping at most of the Corps of Engineers parks.
I was a little concerned that, after seeing Palo Duro Canyon in Texas and the Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas, that The Badlands would be a bit of a letdown. But wow, it’s (they?) are really fantastic!! What makes them so different is that they seem to rise right out of the prairie! You’re driving along, admiring all the flat and gently rolling prairie-grass vistas and wham! There they are! Huge spires of stone rising high out of the prairie. It is impossible to try to describe The Badlands…at least I can’t. Even the pictures we post don’t show the magnificence of the area. I've posted the Badlands pictures here and there’s also a neat video of the Badlands I found that you might want to watch. The campground in the video is the Cedar Pass Campground right in the park. We didn’t stay there, though.
We pulled into the Badlands Interior RV Park around 2:30 after oo’ing and ahh’ing our way down Routes 240 and 377 from I-90. If you look to the left of the tipi in this picture, that’s the space we’re in. Lot #1…guaranteed to give us wifi service since we’re near the office. This is good because we have absolutely no Verizon service and there’s no way I can find the necessary geocaches while we’re here.
Went into Interior to get some diesel but there is only one gas station (the population of Interior is only 62!) and they didn’t have any gas OR diesel so changed direction and back through the park up to I-90 then west to Wall where we filled the tank, got a geocache and then decided to visit the famous Wall Drug. First stop, the café…where we ordered a roast beef sandwich, a tuna salad sandwich, a small dish of potato salad and a soda…and the bill came to $17!!! And the sandwiches weren’t even that good. Oh well. Filled our tummies. Walked around the compound but didn’t even see half of what was there. There WAS a store there with the beautiful Black Hills Gold jewelry. Oh, how I wish I had the $$ to get some of that. Ah well. Moseyed around, took some pictures then back on our way home via Route 240 which took us back through a different section of The Badlands.
More of the stunning vistas but this time we saw mountain sheep and several huge prairie dog towns. Way back when, farmers and ranchers eliminated much of the prairie dog towns in the west because they felt their vast towns decimated much of the grazing land for their cattle. The sylvatic plague also accounted for the loss of many of the colonies. As the prairie dogs disappeared, so did the black-footed ferret because prairie dogs make up the main staple of the ferret's diet and the ferrets also utilized the dogs’ burrows for shelter. It was feared the ferret had become extinct. However, in 1981, a colony was found in Wyoming and captive-bred ferrets have since been able to be re-introduced to many national parks in the west including the Badlands in 1994.
We also saw a small herd of Big Horn sheep grazing by the roadway. I guess they’re pretty used to tourists because the one even crossed the road between us and the car pulled over in front of us. One of the bigger sheep that was lying there had a collar on him. It’s unbelievable how these sheep can just travel so quickly over the rocky hills and peaks…even the babies move right along with their moms.
Didn’t want to use up too much diesel today since we have to go so far to get it so just went back to the Visitor’s Center to watch a movie about the Badlands then down into Interior (population 67!) to the cemetery for a geocache then about 8 miles east on Route 44 to check out the White River (hardly any water in it) and the KOA Campground. Usually, when you see other campers, you wave so we waved to all those who were sitting out by their campers but no one waved back. We figured they were all mad that they were paying such high fees at that campground when they could be camping for almost half that price where we are.
So, tomorrow we’ll be heading west on Route 44 through the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, up past Rapid City and into Sturgis where we’ll stay while we run over to Wyoming to see the Devil’s Tower and the Buffalo Drop, where the Indians used to herd the buffalo over the cliff. After a few days up there, we’ll drop down below Rapid City to Hermosa from where we’ll visit Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park. We want to be there in time for the great buffalo roundup where they bring the buffalo off the plains into pens where they’ll receive their annual innoculations and some will be auction off. Then, I guess it’ll be time to start heading south.