Three years ago, if you would have told me that one day, I would be parked in an RV, which I live in, on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the Badlands National Park, I would have laughed at you. I’ve actually laughed pretty hysterically at the reality of it all, several times this last couple of weeks. We all have! I honestly hesitated to even tell where this place is because I want to keep it for myself. LOL! When looking for somewhere to camp in South Dakota, we decided to look for somewhere to camp near Badlands National Park. I just stumbled across this place on a website I use regularly for park reviews. Now, it’s not your typical campsite. There are no hook-ups or even marked sites. It is, what we refer to as a “boondocking site”. We are equipped to boondock (dry camp) with a generator, a battery (for our 12 volt stuff), and an external water tank, so we were super excited about it! Many people who do a lot of boondocking, use solar panels to generate their electricity. Not sure we do it often enough to warrant the expense. There may come a day though! We could get used to this!
I knew of the Badlands, had always wanted to see them (like bucket list type of thing), but never dreamed there was a place where we could camp for free and have a million dollar view like this just outside our front door! Granted, it was a fun little, bumpy trek up the dirt road to the rim, but worth every bit of it for that view from the top! And, people were so nice! Most campers came and went after a night or two, but the camaraderie was so much fun. We met some really fun and interesting people during our weeklong stay! This place seemed to attract “our kind of people”. Also, notice the cell phone towers in the picture. We had great Verizon signal, which allowed us to get lots of school and work done while we were there too! We always have to balance work, school, and play!
We couldn’t wait to drive the 240 Badlands Loop Road to see more of the park. The road itself is 40 miles long and starts and ends at different places on I-90. You have to pay an entrance fee to enter the National Park. It was $20/car or $80 for the Annual National Park Pass. We have a ton of National Parks on our list for the rest of this trip, so we went ahead and bought the pass. No doubt it will more than pay for itself!
It was so cool! Check out all of the wildlife we came across our first time in the park! There are tons of bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and buffalo! We also saw a coyote. I couldn’t believe how close they came to the vehicles on the roads. They seemed completely unphased by the many people snapping their pictures and gawking at them!
We also had a lot of fun stopping along the way to check out all of the scenic overpasses! Wow!
We did quite a bit of hiking and exploring. Everything was just so beautiful! It was really difficult to take it in at times.
Tyler got another Junior Ranger Badge to add to his collection.
We normally steer clear of tourist trap types of places, but after the hundreds of signs leading up to it, we took the plunge and went to see what all the fuss was about at Wall Drug. It wasn’t spectacular, but now we can say we’ve been there, done that, got the bumper sticker. 🙂 The kids got a kick out of it.
One of our favorite things was seeing a huge herd of buffalo. A storm was rolling in, so we caught them just as they were beginning to head across the prairie to seek shelter in the lower lands. They are such majestic creatures! The American Bison is an icon of the Great Plains. Badlands National Park and other parks in this area are working hard to conserve these great animals. If you are interested in the past, present, and future of these herds, you can learn more here. It’s sad to think at one time, these animals came very close to being wiped out.
There were a couple of days it got pretty windy up there on the hill (like 20-30 mph winds), so we felt right at home! LOL! Not much different from West Texas winds. One thing we’d been warned about was not letting yourself get rained in. The dirt roads turn pretty nasty, apparently, after a good rain. We were a little bummed when a storm rolled in on our last full day in our “favorite campsite ever”. 🙂 But, we made the last-minute decision to go ahead, pack up, and head into Wall, SD to Arrow Campground (where we had been getting our water supply all week). They will let you fill up anything you have for $7.63. We got tickled at the preciseness of the price, but it was the same each time. LOL!
Our neighbors were really sad to see us go! They actually blocked the road so we couldn’t leave! We assured them we would be back, and they eventually gave in and moved out of our way. LOL! In the end, we were glad we moved into town for the night. No doubt the rain that came down that night would have made for a messy exit down the dirt road the next morning.
Arrow Campground was fine for one night. I probably wouldn’t want to stay there longer. It’s a small, locally owned park that honestly looks a little worse for wear. They only had a water/electric site to fit us. Online says it’s a Good Sam Park, but the guy checking us in didn’t know how to give us a discount. He said the discount was already included in the price. Hmmm…anyways…when we got ready to leave the next morning, the dump station was out of action. That was a “small problem” since we hadn’t dumped in a week. Oh dear!
Thankfully, I consulted my Allstays app and found there was a dump station at a rest area about 10 miles down I-90 west! What a great idea! I wish every rest area did this. They had fresh water, too. If we had known earlier, it might have been worth it to fill our external water tank there instead of paying for water in town. And, it had tons of room for us to pull into. Sometimes it’s the simple things in life! 🙂
We loved our time in the Badlands! This country is so diverse and interesting. There is a story around every corner. Being in a place like this, the history comes to life, but so does the present. We often think, “if only these walls could talk.” I think if we listen really closely, they do!
We don’t fully understand why God has blessed us with this journey we are on, but we are so grateful because every place we go points us right back to Him and his awesomeness. We don’t have a final destination in mind. We just go…in faith. Where He leads, we follow. I do know that every stop on our journey has been prayed over. The people we meet along the way are prayed for. We truly believe He has us on a mission. Maybe it’s to bless someone along the way. Maybe it’s to inspire someone to take a leap of faith. Maybe it’s to meet new people from different places. Maybe it’s to spread love. Maybe it’s so YOU can visit places you will never physically be able to. Maybe it’s to strengthen our family bonds. Maybe it’s to give our children experiences and an education that will help them fulfill the purpose God has for them. Maybe it’s to stretch our faith and teach us to be obedient and to rely on Him alone. Maybe it’s so I can blog about our experiences and sum it all up by sharing how great God is, and to let YOU know how much He loves YOU!
Hebrews 11:8-10 “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Happy journeys, friends, and remember to go wherever God calls you. Even if you can’t see where He is leading, just obey and go. Pitch your tent even when you feel like you’re in a foreign land. Count your blessings. Walk in faith. Love your neighbor. Your journey might look different from mine, but at the end of the day, remember this…this world is not our home….we’re just passing through.