September 19, 2007 – The Badlands

Today we left the Black Hills and headed out into the prairie.

And of course no prairie is complete without these little guys:

(I am driving Andy crazy with pictures of prairie dogs and wanting to stop at every prairie dog town.) These guys were at a wayside park and we bought peanuts to feed them. (Looks like a LOT of other tourists also feed them. Bouncy)

We are camped at the Cedar Pass Campground in the Badlands. After setting up camp, we went first to the Minuteman Missile National Park Visitor Center (right up the road from the Badlands). This is America’s newest NP and right now it contains a very small visitor center (new one to be finished in ~5 years); the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility and the Delta-09 Launch Facility. As the deactivation of the Minuteman II missile sites progressed, employees of the USAF and the NP worked towards preservation of a representative site and this is it.

In the visitor center, we saw a video on the launch control facility and had a really nice chat with the ranger. We were unable to get on the tour to the control facility (they are booked to next Tuesday) but tomorrow we will be able to see the launch facility. Since this is a relatively new park, they are still in the process of getting a permanent visitor center as well as more staffing to be able to run more tours. So we were disappointed on not being able to see the control facility. (Just a heads up for anyone heading this way – make your reservations early.)

From there, we went to the Badlands visitor center – some sites along the way:

Isn’t this incredible – it almost looks like another world!!

Back at camp, we watched an incredible sunset followed by an incredible moonrise. There is a lot of wind today also – 15 to 30 MPH. Only propane stoves are allowed outside – no campfires.

Such fantastic scenery!

Oh, I did find out that the howling/yapping we heard last night was from the coyotes. Eerie!

Miles Traveled: 114
Routes Traveled:
South Dakota: US-385; MT-44; I-190; I-90

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