Saturday, May 2, 2015

Badlands National Park/Buffalo Gap National Grassland

Mom and Dad visited the Badlands previously in 1999, before their RVing days.  They flew to Rapid City and rented a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  They wouldn't spring for an airline ticket for me nor could we ride 3-up on the motorcycle (Mom didn't have her license yet), so I was left home for my Grandma to rodent sit.  That’s why I am especially excited to be here this time around!
View from the Campground
This place is surreal! It is very early in the tourist season.  I hear not a whisper, see little sign of humans, just me and acres and miles of rock formations dating back millions of years!  Some of the rock tables and plateaus look like how I envision the surface of the moon!  Then I see high peaks, with the rock formations so fragile, crumbly, and dry like paint peeling.   I am in awe they are still standing!  The sun, casting shadows, gives the illusion that the rocks change colors right before my eyes!


Though the area lacks in human life, the wildlife has been prolific!  We encountered dozens of long-horn sheep and prong-horn deer.  Not to mention all my rodent buddies, the prairie dogs (I couldn’t fraternize with them because they are suffering from plague!)  Most importantly to Daddy, we saw a rattle snake!  Unfortunately, none of us were quick enough to snap a picture of it!

Long-horn sheep at Norbeck Pass--look like a set of bookends!
Prong-horn deer

Prairie Dogs
We rode the motorcycles down Sage Creek Rim Road--a moist, rocky, unpaved/ungraded road that prohibited us traveling any faster than 15 miles an hour.  Virtually no one else was on the road, but we hit the jackpot in our animal expeditions—dozens and dozens of bison, right near the road!  These huge, majestic beasts stopped grazing and cast their dark eyes upon us, watching our every move.  I squealed with fright!  Since they can run at speeds up to 30 miles an hour, they could surely overtake us!  Needless to say, we refrained from getting too close and personal for photo taking.

The Beastly Bison on Sage Creek Rim Road
Long-horn sheep along Castle Trail

We enjoyed seeing the back-country and grasslands by completing a 4 mile hike roundtrip from Fossil Trail to Castle Trail.  And while Daddy and I climbed the ladder up the ridge on Notch Trail, Mommy chickened out, worrying she may fall on her attempt to descend (she freaks out with heights sometimes).
PoPo reaches the top of the ladder on Notch Trail

Mom actually did sustain an injury.  She would have liked to say it happened while doing something adventurous like climbing the ¼ mile strenuous ascent of Saddle Pass Trail (We only went up 1/8 mile before she panicked and retreated).  But instead, Mommy just tripped while walking 20 feet on a pressed pebble path to the trash bin at Cedar Pass Campground minutes before our departure.  She’s banged up badly, with a deep gash, bruising, and swelling of her knee, causing her to walk with a limp. We just call her “Gimpy” now. 

The visit to Badland National Park and Buffalo Gap National Grassland has been extraordinary, with the wonders of nature never ceasing to amaze and delight.  It is a “must see” place, and merits a Rambling RV Rat 5-cheese rating.

Mother Nature is amazing - flowers growing in the crevices of ancient rock formations

Badlands/Buffalo Gap earns PoPo's distinguished 5-cheese award

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