For our last adventure in western South Dakota we drove east for a visit to Badlands National Park. It’s a bit of a drive (about 90 mi.) from Hermosa to the park entrance and if we were to do it again we would find an RV park somewhere closer to it, especially since we will be traveling in that direction tomorrow. But the roads are good and the scenery is nice, so it wasn’t a bad trip.
After a stop at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, we headed into the park to do a short hike. The Notch Trail is about a mile and half roundtrip and takes you through a canyon and up a steep log ladder to a nice overlook.
Returning to the Jeep we set out for a 22 mile ride through the park on the Scenic Loop Road (SD-240).
Along the way we passed a number of large prairie dog towns. In one the sharp eye’s of the nimble hiker spotted a Burrowing Owl.
Burrowing owls like to nest in the holes dug by the prairie dogs. Unlike most owls, burrowing owls are often active during the day, although they tend to avoid the midday heat. But like many other kinds of owls, burrowing owls do most of their hunting from dusk until dawn when they can use their night vision and hearing to their advantage. Living in open grasslands as opposed to the forest, the burrowing owl has developed longer legs, which enables it to sprint as well as fly when hunting.
After passing the Pinnacle Overlook we turned left on Sagecreek Rim Road, a maintained dirt road that leads west back out of the park. Along the way we were fortunate to spot some Bighorn Sheep resting among the rocks.
While a day is enough time to visit the Badlands National Park, the colorful beauty of the area make it well worth a visit.
After a great visit to the Black Hills area we will now continue our journey east. Next up is a short stop in Chamberlain, SD. More on that later . . .