Badlands National Park

Three years ago I reached the 50th consecutive year of visiting Badlands National Park.  I have backpacked it in every month, explored it in every season, come with family, friends, tour groups, and college classes.  I was proud.  So I mentioned to the ranger at the Visitor Center - this personal fact.  He said, "that's nice."  I was deflated.  I have not been back for two years, but this trip with the twin grandsons was enough to reignite the passion I have for this remote and challenging land.

The prairie birds in the surrounding grasslands are enough to entertain me. I loved the western kingbirds, Lark buntings, Upland sandpipers and Western Meadowlarks of the Buffalo National Grassland, but most fun for the grandsons was the common Killdeer and its little fluffy, long legged offspring.

We spent a long time listening to and observing the behavior of the grassland birds.  This group is reduced in population all over the country so it is a pleasure to find them as they should be in this area.

From there we entered in to the rocks and canyons of the landscape.  It was hot 109 the day before we got there and we kept most of our activities to morning and evening.

 The prairie dogs and all the other animals followed our pattern.  No wild animal is dumb enough to run around and entertain the tourists in the middle of the summer day.

Our next little adventure was taking a walk and finding fossils.  The badlands are teeming with every kind and once you know what to look for, they appear before your eyes.

 Smoke from the western fires put a haze in the sky and painted the setting sun.

In the morning we worked our way across the badlands and enjoyed the bighorn sheep and prairie dogs, watched a few bison and wandered down in to the Sage Creek Wilderness.  It was just a small jaunt, but enough to excite the boys.


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