Part 7: South Dakota.

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Trip Mileage   (in Interior, SD)

DateLocationLog EntryPhotosNotes
July 6 Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs, South Dakota
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Two days of camping and viewing wildlife and wildflowers.
Prairie Coneflowers (aka Mexican Hats) with buffalo herd in the background.

Buffalo at the entrance to the campground.

Buffalo 'up close and personal' at he entrance to the campground.
We are 'protected' by the cattle guard and wire fence.
We were greeted by buffalo when we first arrived, and continued to see and experience them through out the stay. On the day we arrived, we toured the wildlife loop road through Custer State Park and lined up some places to stop the next day for photography. Upon arriving back late in the darkness, we had to wait while the buffalo cleared the road right in front of the entrance to the campground. The next day we toured the loop road again, this time stopping frequently to do some photography. While I was pointing my camera at the flowers, people driving by would stop and ask "What do you have there." They were all thinking I was looking at an animal, and didn't want to miss the chance to see it. I had to explain about the (seemingly invisible to them) wildflowers and tell them where we did see some buffalo. During the day we did see buffalo, antelope, and and the well known donkeys begging food and attention from the (human) visitors. In the late afternoon, we drove up to Mount Rushmore to see the presidents again (we were there ten years ago). We had a nice late lunch in the cafeteria style restaurant, and wandered around for a while. Both of us thought we liked it better ten years ago, when the parking garage and other buildings weren't there. Later, we drove past the Crazy Horse Memorial to check the progress of the mountain sized sculpture. We didn't go in to the visitor center, but enjoyed viewing the monument from roadside. Again, returning to the campground required us to drive through a small herd of buffalo guarding the gate to the campground.
July 7 Spearfish, South Dakota
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Driving tour of Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.
Spearfish Canyon scenery.

Penstemon along the rock wall.
Letty wanted to take me along the scenic byway because we had read that there were plenty of chances to see wildflowers along the way. We were not disappointed. The road follows the canyon and Spearfish Creek and had scenic views all along. I found some nice places to stop and take wildflower photos and enjoy the scenery.
July 8 Wall, South Dakota
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Visiting the world famous Wall Drug Store. (No Photos) Wall Drug Store is a mixture of drug store, gift shop, restaurant, and sightseeing, all rolled into one. Signs declare all of the attractions there for literally hundreds of miles along Interstate 90 in both directions. Letty's favorite attraction is the buffalo burgers. Mine is the giant T-rex dinosaur that roars at the visitors and belches smoke every twelve minutes or so, and the free ice water that gave the place its original boost. The restaurant area has a large collection of original western art, including the original paintings that were made into book covers for many western novels.
July 10 Badlands National Park, Interior, South Dakota
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Camping, hiking, and sightseeing in the Badlands.
Tom sitting with some common sunflowers in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands north of the Badlands.

Scenic view from the 'Big Badlands' overlook.

Looking down from about halfway up the short but steep Saddle Pass Trail.
Sunset the first night from an overlook on the Badlands Loop Road.

Cattle in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands south of the Badlands.
We had visited the Badlands in 1996, but only had enough time to drive through without staying in the area. This time we camped in the national park campground and had time to visit not only the Badlands, but also the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, which more or less surround the national park. While not rich in wildflowers, the scenic beauty is outstanding and is different than just about any other area we have ever visited. Driving around the hills and driving through the grasslands (prairie) was a rewarding experience. I hiked on a few short trails, but did not photgraph many wildflowrers.

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