Exploring the Badlands National Park is like visiting another planet. It’s vast, remote, and wild. But what makes it really amazing is the pinnacle like mounds that do NOT look like anything you will ever see. The Badlands National Park is over 200,000 acres and has a ton of wildlife. Bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets all roam the prairie.
When we first got there, it was really windy. In fact winds were gusting to about 60 mph, so they had closed the campground. YIKES! After talking to one of the Rangers, he agreed to give us a discount on one of the little cabins in the campground so we could wait out the winds. The cabins were cozy and super comfortable. We were really grateful for the hospitality the Ranger showed us.
The next day we were out to explore the Badlands. We had downloaded a GPS route and were eager to see if we could keep up with the route.
The Route started at the Conata Picnic Area. There is a sign at the very end of the picnic area. The Trail starts out like a normal trail for about 200 yards and then disappears. You are on your own after that. You follow Southwest for about 2 miles then turn Northwest towards a large open grassy field. Deer Haven is way in the background. We headed right towards Deer Haven. You can’t miss it. We ducked under a Cattle Fence and I was off to climb up and over Deer Haven. If you want to really see the park, climb up to to Deer Haven and camp under the Full Moon. It’s amazing.
Climbing Deer Haven is pretty simple. Follow Deer Trails. They almost look like a regular trail, and they won’t let you down. They will take you right up to the top exactly where you need to start your decent. From there, it’s all creek bed. Followed some amazing Buffalo hoof prints and saw some spectacular scenery.
The park’s main visitor center, the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, is open daily all year, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. During the summer months, ranger-led programs are offered throughout the day. Check at the visitor center for more information on these programs.
This is a spectacular place if you want to Boondock with your RV also. In fact, probably one of the more peaceful and beautiful places we’ve seen for an ultimate place to park your RV and just gaze out into the Badlands. It’s located about 5 miles south of Wall, just before the entrance to Badlands National Park.
The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is located at Cedar Pass on the Badlands Loop Road (Hwy 240), 9 miles South of I-90, exit 131 Phone (605) 455-2878
When the Peoria Backpackers Meetup Group asked us to do a Backpacking Basics along with a Q & A we jumped at the chance. After all Scott lived there for almost 8 years. In fact, Scott started that backpacking club when he was looking for others to go hiking with. Now 9 years later, the club is going strong. Not only did we get a chance to see some old friends (and meet new one’s) we were able to go on a 3 mile hike afterwards on a gorgeous day.
Peoria, Il isn’t just another town in central Illinois. Peoria offers some very cool places to explore and spend a lot of time outdoors. For example, the Forest Park Nature Center, (where we all met for the event) has over a 3 mile hiking trail that can get anyone’s blood pumping for some good exercise while in a beautiful forest setting.
If you are looking for even more adventure, than take a hour drive Northeast to Starved Rock State Park and explore waterfalls, caves, and small canyons.
A huge thank you to Becky (one of the Organizers) who let us crash at her house and who cooks amazing breakfast potato’s.
Ever have a spontaneous idea to take a road trip that takes you through 5 states and over 2,000 miles? We did. On this episode we share are amazing road trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to see the peak colors of Fall. Over 90% of our road trip were spend outdoors as we camped at various campground throughout the 5 states. Not to mention taking time to teach a Backpacking Basics Class with the Peoria Backpackers. We arrived in Munising, Michigan where we got picked up by shuttle and hiked the beautiful Lakeshore Trail that is part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park. It’s a 42 mile trail that spans sand dunes, forest, and cliffs.