Badlands National Park
After many, many hours of driving through straight, flat South Dakota, the landscape of Badlands National Park was exciting for all of us. It's like nothing we had ever seen. And, to this day, it is Ezra and Levi's favorite national park we have ever visited.
We started out our visit at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, where we saw a video about the badlands and the kids grabbed their junior ranger books to start working on during our visit. The kids also completed a ranger activity about the animals in the park. I love that the rangers spend their time educating the kids visiting in the park. Just past the visitor center is the Cedar Pass Lodge, where we stayed for our visit. It was our one splurge for the trip; we wanted to stay in a cabin in a national park at least once on the trip. The Cedar Pass cabins were amazing! The inside was nice and clean, and there was a porch with chairs to watch the stars after dark. The night sky views were amazing, and it was fun to see the bats flying around as the sun went down. We highly recommend Cedar Pass Lodge; it was a great mix between camping and a hotel stay. The lodge also has campsites available as well, and a little restaurant where we ate dinner the evenings we were there. There weren't a lot of healthy options, but the food was good and the staff was super nice. Of course, you can't beat the views, either.
We spent a lot of time hiking with the kids at Badlands; may trails are family friendly. Of course, I was scared to death of the possibility of the kids meeting a rattlesnake (there are warnings everywhere), but thankfully, that didn't happen. We easily hiked the Door Trail (0.75 miles boardwalk hike) for great views, the Window Trail (0.25 miles on trail), the Fossil Exhibit Trail (0.25 miles boardwalk hike although the kids walked around the boardwalk for some climbing on that one), and the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail (0.5 miles moderate hike up some stairs). My favorite was probably the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail. The views were gorgeous at the top! We drove the Badlands Loop Road, which took about three hours, but it was an amazing tour of the park. There were plenty of pull of spots for pictures, and we saw bighorn sheep climbing around everywhere, especially in the amazing Yellow Mounds area. The overlook here cannot be missed! After the Badlands Loop Road, there is an option to continue to the Badlands Wilderness Area on the unpaved Sage Creek Rim Road. This road was extremely bumpy, but we drove on anyway. The kids were determined to see a bison on our trip (little did we know we would see hundreds in our three weeks out west), and they were not disappointed! The kids were ecstatic to see a few bison grazing in a field. Roberts Prairie Dog Town in the wilderness area also shouldn't be missed. There were hundreds of prairie dogs (and you can hear their cute little squeals) popping in and out of their holes. The kids were mesmerized! Seeing animals in their own habitat from a respectable distance was a phenomenal learning experience for the kids. You will see about a hundred signs begging you to visit Wall, SD. We took a quick detour during our trip to check it out. It is absolutely the most tourist trappy (is that a word?) place I've ever been to. Unless you like that kind of thing, I would recommend skipping it. But everyone should visit Badlands National Park at least once in their life. It was the perfect place for the kids to explore without dangerous hikes (like in the canyons in Utah, but more about that later). Badlands National Park was one of the highlights of our three weeks on the road!
8/11/2019 07:46:17 am
What a really nice family you have! I would like you to know that I see you guys as an inspiration for those families out there who are having second thoughts with the benefits of traveling. I can really prove that this kind of events will surely make a family's relationship grow stronger and deeper. I am indeed so happy and proud of you guys because you are able to do something special for your kids. Please know that you are both inspiring when it comes to managing a family. I pray that you continue to love each other and I wish you all the best in life.
5/31/2020 02:22:04 am
Just watched your video on youtube. It was so cute and beautiful! The photos above are so beautiful also!
2/17/2023 11:05:28 am
What a beautiful place it is to visit, and a wonderful family you have.
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