Friday evening we arrived at Badlands National Park. We all decided that this park is one of the few that the National Park Service doesn't really care about it's patron's safety. Which is actually pretty nice because unlike many other parks, you're free to get up close to the cliffs and wander into the middle of nowhere.
It's a small park, but the views are really unique and strangely beautiful. It's odd because the rugged formations are all topped with perfectly flat, grassy plateaus. All the mounds were made of dirt from different time periods that were pressed together to make stripes. It was especially beautiful at sunset and sunrise.
After we had gone on a few hikes we went in search of our campground and found that it was a little... sparse. Definitely not what a bunch of Coloradans are used to camping in. I think the total tree count might have been about 7 for the entire campground. Because the wind was so incredibly strong and kept blowing our tent flat, we were forced to pitch our tent to the east. Now normally I'm not what you would call a morning person, but with the sun coming directly at me at 5:00, I was able to get up in time to see the most beautiful sunrise.
After we packed up, we headed over to Mt. Rushmore. It's been a while since I'd been there and I had forgotten how impressive it is. It's incredible that the workmen and artists could accomplish something so amazing without all the tools we have today. It took them about 14 years to complete the project, but only about 6 years if you don't count all the interruptions. Definitely one of the most inspiring stops of the trip.
Next post: Wind Caves & Custer State Park