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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Badlands by day...and night

The Badlands in South Dakota -- about an hour due east of Rapid City – have been called The Gateway to the Black Hills, but they are much, much more than that.

There are two opportunities in the Badlands that many travelers miss.  The first is to stay in the small cabins that are located near the Visitor’s Center near the tiny town of Interior.  "Rustic" is a good descriptive term for them, but the experience will be one that long remains because a night in the Badlands and the next morning's sunrise provide for startling beauty and a look at nature that you just don’t get unless you are there.

At night, the National Park Service rangers will lead you on a wilderness walk out on the sweeping prairie to see the night sky and “listen” to the sounds being generated by nature.   There is no man-made light anywhere near where they take you and the sweeping expanse of the star-lit sky is truly amazing.  And, of course, the sounds of nature – including those grunts, growls and animal screams that you must use your imagination to try to identify – also create an experience not soon, if ever, forgotten.

And, if you choose to rise at dawn, the sight of the sun coming up over the craggy rock formations and sweeping prairies provide you with a whole new meaning of the term “breathtaking."  You'll be glad you took this road less traveled.

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