Another of our many Black Hills road trips was to the Badlands National Park. We took a back road out there that wound through the Buffalo Gap National Grassland. That was a first for us, we had never been in a national grassland before. Apparently after the Dust Bowl, the federal government acquired land in the plains with the intent of keeping it in native grasses ongoing. It seems people can lease the land and graze cattle and bale hay, but it has to remain in grasses. There has been a fair amount of rain around here this spring and the plains were very lush and green.
Millions of years ago a great inland sea covered the area now known as the Badlands. When the sea receded rivers and streams left more sediment in the area. Eventually these buttes and hills left behind began to erode leaving the beautiful formations seen there today. Because of the different layers that were built up, you see colorful layers in the formations as they erode.
This area has to be on the great money makers of the National Park Service. The main road through the Badlands connects at each end to Interstate 90. Anyone traveling along the freeway can make a very quick and easy trip through the park. The fee is $15 for a week’s pass, but likely the vast majority just take an hour or two trip on the Loop Road.
We had to stop in Wall, South Dakota, the home of Wall Drug, one of the most heavily roadside advertised establishments in the country. It is more more a collection of tourist trade business under one roof than it is a drug store. We availed ourselves of one of there classic offerings – free ice water, except that there wasn’t any ice in it. But after seeing so many many signs for the place we had to stop by.