Badlands National Park is located in Western South Dakota in a desolate location, but features some amazing rock formations. There are some similarities to Zion National Park but Badlands is of a smaller and less colorful scale. All in all I am glad we came here because it is so unique.
The primary activities here are hiking, nature study and history so a three-day stay should be adequate for most people and families. And the word “adequate” preceded by barely is how I'd describe lunch and dinner at the Lodge restaurant.
The Lodge is composed of one main building housing a gift shop, restaurant and guest registration. Overnight accommodations are either tent, RV or cabin.
We lucked out and were booked into a brand new cabin that is easily equal to a
3-star facility. The interior is paneled with reclaimed pine lumber and furniture all made from pine trees killed by pine beetles. It is actually very attractive. Everything in the room is brand new, clean and works well. Towels and linens are above average. It is heartening to see this investment being made in one of our national parks.
Here are some images gathered while hiking:
On Friday we just could not bring ourselves to go back to the lodge for lunch. Actually, they serve a decent burger, but I was saving that menu item for dinner. Sandy remembered seeing a divey looking bar and grill the other day when we drove into nearby Interior for some bread and jelly to make PB&J sandwiches.
She looked it up on Yelp and it got four excellent reviews. Adding to its appeal were the reviews that mentioned the big Labrador Retriever who resides at the bar. But when we got there the dog, named Tractor, had been banished by the new owners. The new owners are a brother and sister who grew up in this tiny town of about 80 houses and trailers and a couple hundred hearty souls. The sister waited on us and we had a good conversation about Tractor (he likes an occasional shot of whiskey) and we talked a bit about ranching and living on the grasslands. Her brother has over 30,000 acres to his ranch. The Wagon Wheel Bar & Grill was one of those out-of-the-way places you are glad to find and delighted that it had decent pizza, a welcoming attitude and cold beer.
But wait there is more.
As we departed the bar, Tractor was there to greet us. He is HUGE and so friendly. He leaned into us, let us love all over him and sat right on my feet. Boy do we ever miss not having a pooch. Tractor sure helped us get a doggie fix that day.
Tomorrow we head toward Glacier National Park, which we both think is one of the most beautiful of the national parks seen thus far. We were at Glacier in 2010 and vowed to go back because our one day there was not enough to see it all. We will arrive on Monday.