As we approached the entrance to Badlands National Park, it was such a spectacular sight to see the large, jagged “hills” rising from the Plains, seemingly out of nowhere.
This was our first National Park visit on this trip, so it was here that we purchased our National Park Pass, which allows entrance to almost every National Park across the country for one year from the date of purchase for $80.
Junior Ranger Program
The boys enjoyed completing their first Junior Ranger program. This is a fabulous program to supplement their homeschooling. They were given a booklet about the park with a specific number of activities that they needed to complete based on their age.
I have come to appreciate and love this program more and more. The booklets are so interesting and fun that we also end up learning tons about the Park that we may not have picked up just while stopping in at the Visitor’s Center.
Pictured below, the boys work on their “Badlands Bingo” activity:
At the completion of their activity book and movie viewing, they visited the Park Ranger, who checked over their books. Then they raised their right hands and repeated the Junior Ranger Oath, in which they promised to enjoy, explore, and protect our National Parks. Finally, they were awarded with a badge:
Exploring the Park
While visiting, we also drove the entire Badlands Loop Road and walked Fossil Trail.
We even took a gravel road, known for spotting Bison. Although we didn’t see any Bison, we did stop at “Roberts Prairie Dog Town”, which was really cool. There were probably thousands of those little guys standing by their “holes” about 10 feet apart from each other, just covering miles of land. Definitely a highlight of our driving tour.
Rattlesnakes are prevalent in the Badlands. The Park Rangers will tell you that as long as you stay on the path, you shouldn’t have any problem. Fortunately, we didn’t see any.
We camped at the Cedar Pass Campground, which is located inside of the Park and offers electricity sites. We were able to book our spot online. There is something so magical about sleeping amidst the silent beauty of nature. We were also fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your stress level) to witness a thunderstorm rolling in over the hills. It was quite an experience.
The views and the sunsets were gorgeous, but I don’t think anything amazed us more than the night sky. We had NEVER seen the sky look so transparent with stars…it was as if we could see layers beyond the normal star-filled skies we were accustomed to.
For more information about visiting the Badlands, visit Badlands National Park.