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Day #9: Badlands, NP

We woke up to a cooler and breezier morning having had a front pass through the prior night. This is what makes summer elsewhere so much more pleasant than it in Florida: variation (and lower humidity).

We departed fairly early for Badlands NP. Of all of the NPs we’ve visited on this trip thus far, this one is by far the most deceptive.  Approaching it from the north, you hardly even realize it’s there as you just drive through the grasslands of the upper prairie.  Then you reach “The Wall” where the prairie just kind of gives way to this vastly different landscape caused by erosion:

While it’s interesting to view from above, you get a much better sense once you’re down driving within it:

But, to really understand what gives the Badlands its name, you need to go out and walk within it. Here’s a view back to the “Door” notch (center in the distance) that we walked through to get to this spot along an easy, well-marked trail:

Without the markers, it would be far more challenging to navigate across this terrain. While some describe it as bizarre and “like the moon,” it didn’t feel as otherworldly as say Haleakala on Maui to me. But, it’s certainly an unusual and interesting feature and worth the visit. 

From the Badlands, we drove across South Dakota. At Libby’s urging, we stopped in Mitchell to see its corn palace:

From there we drove to Souix Falls, SD, then south to Souix City, IA, and finally stopped in Omaha, NE for the night. By doing tomorrow’s drive today, we’re now a day ahead of schedule and will have more time in the morning to explore Omaha! Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll start heading southwest toward Dodge City and ultimately Santa Fe. 

Today’s box score: +2 states (Iowa and Nebraska)  

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