Saturday, November 19, 2016

Summer 2016 Road Trip Stage 10

South Dakota Badlands

We intentionally saved our trip to the Badlands for our last day in South Dakota. I didn't think it would be that great because after all, we live in Texas. The land here is pretty bad. How could anyplace be worse.  We figured if we were tired and ready to go home, we could just skip it and wouldn't have missed much.
I am so glad we stayed and kept it on our itinerary. It was so beautiful and the visitor's center was top notch. Even the Junior Ranger program at this park was the best one the girls participated in. Of course, it was the most challenging as well. We were so thankful that Uncle Scott was along to make things a little easier.  It was a GPS challenge. A little like geo caching but once you reached the coordinates, you had to complete a task and record data. After visiting 3 out of the 5 locations, the girls could turn in their recording sheets and get their patches. Amazingly, they got three finished because they were tough challenges! Behind the visitor's center was an outdoor education center and the rangers would meet with the children working on their Junior Ranger badges. We opted to just finish the tasks on our own. Some of them were a little confusing but we managed to figure them out.
There are so many different hiking trails in the park of all levels of difficulty. Each one has a large, conveniently located parking lot, benches along the trails, and very well planned observation points. It would be really difficult to say which area was the most beautiful or enjoyable. I think the area that had the task of recording the wild life was the easiest to traverse; but, it had the most beware of rattle snakes signs. Not fun for Mimi; I hate snakes!
Besides the Junior Ranger education area, there was a wonderful museum at the visitor's centers with a nice little gift shop. It was really warm this day, so the air conditioning in the center was welcome! The girls learned how the Badlands formed, how long it would be before they were completely eroded away, and about the different wild life and wild flowers in the area.

Sophie watching one of the many little film clips in the museum.

She made a new friend that knew a lot about the area. He
walked her around and showed her different parts of the museum.

Maggie in front of one of the animal displays.

Sophie and her friend.

The view from the Visitor's Center, and the location of
the first geo task.

Uncle Scott putting in coordinates.

Hiking off to complete the first task. Measuring an erosion
marker and recording the data.

Dandelion puffs the size of SOFT BALLS!

After some trial and error, we found the marker. We didn't have
an actual ruler so we improvised and used the side of the paper.

Sophie, Maggie, Seth, Leslie, and Scott.

Seth, Sophie, Maggie, Leslie and Scott.

And we were off to another task.

I wasn't much help, being technologically challenged.
So, I just took pictures.

Sophie sitting on yet another strange little perch.

One of the scenic overlooks.

NOT my favorite sign. 

View from another scenic overlook.

One of the tasks required a hike up to to top of this trail.
I was feeling the heat so I stayed at a rest stop along the way. 

Once the kids got to the top, I was able to zoom in and
snap a picture of them. 

And, pulled out for a second shot...

And a final zoom in before they came back down.

I met them on the trail half way back. 

Lots of beautiful wild flowers.

another wild flower...

Silly Sophie and her Survivor Buff.

This was one of the few times she actually hung out with me on a trail.
She is much more adventurous than Maggie and usually took off
up the trail without waiting for us.

My little camera just doesn't capture the beauty of this place.

Sophie heading off to find cliff swallow nests on one of the tasks.

Counting cliff swallow nests...

Awww; my favorite grandson. 

Sophie on yet ANOTHER silly perch.

I loved these little clusters of daisies.  So cute.

Driving out of the Badlands...

And our final view of this amazing place.

The Badlands is worth the time and effort to visit. It is massive and does take a huge chunk of your day to visit. If someone wanted to complete all 5 of the Junior Ranger challenges, it would require a fairly long time commitment but be worth every hour.

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