Bad To the Bone

On our recent vacation we made a conscious decision to drive the more scenic routes, to take our time and really enjoy all that our beautiful country has to offer. I really wanted it to be a fun trip and at the same time educational for my kids.

A prime example of one of these scenic routes was the choice to drive through Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Talk about breathtaking! This was by far my favorite sightseeing stop on our trip.

The Badlands is 244,000 acres of eroded sedimentary layers of rock formations and canyons. There is a road going through the whole park but many places to get out, stop and explore. If I had to estimate how long it takes to drive through the park I would guess 20 minutes. My family spent 2 hours here. I actually would have loved to stay longer and done some of the more extensive hiking trails but I didn’t want to push my luck with three small kids.


driving through Badlands National Park

I got a little giddy when we got out the first time and saw this sign:

Beware! Rattlesnakes!

I am crazy for nature and animals in their natural environments and would have loved to see a rattlesnake!

The park is home to other wildlife as well. Bison, pronghorn, mule, deer, prairie dogs, coyotes and eagles can often be seen by visitors. In this area many fossils have also been recovered of ancient camels, three-toed horses, saber-toothed cats and giant rhinoceros-like creatures.

Here are some of the pictures we took while there:





Throughout the entire drive I was making audible gasps and squealing like a little school girl pointing things out. My husband also shared in my excitement. The kids however were a different story. They weren’t exactly yawning but their eyes certainly were not transfixed out the window and responding with excitement to everything I pointed to.

They did however like the times when we got out of our van and got to explore:



We found one flowering cactus in the park! The kids thought that was super cool!

We found one flowering cactus in the park! The kids thought that was super cool!

And the very best thing we saw just as we were about to get to the end of the park was this:

A goat high up on one of the canyons

A goat high up on one of the canyons

Like I said before, Badlands National Park was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. There is no doubt in my mind though that it’s beauty was completely lost on my kids. As proof, about an hour later, driving down a regular highway, my 6 year old son, Bency shouts out, “Wow, look at that beautiful mountain!” I just happened to have the camera in my hand and caught a shot of what he was exclaiming about:


My husband and I looked at each other and shook our heads in dismay. We had just seen some of the most beautiful rock formations and views and this little hill has our son all jigged up.


46 responses

  1. OH wow, great pictures, lovely write up, fossils and rattlesnakes, my son saw a peak of this and this looks like a wonderful adventure (but, yes, kids get tired) …. hope ur vacation was enjoyable !!

  2. Now you’ve got me wanting to go to South Dakota 🙂 It’s not that far for us anymore, and the Badlands have always sounded like a place I want to see. My youngest adores the Little House books (all my kids have enjoyed them) so I’d like to take them to the pageant in De Smet sometime.
    That’s so funny about your kids not being impressed. My younger boys are mostly the same way, while they’re riding in the car anyway. If they can get out and run around, it’s more fun. Hang in there- when they get older they’ll appreciate the scenery 🙂

    • I think you are very right about them appreciating it more when they are older! I hope so! I am a big Little House fan and really wanted to stop in De Smet. We were also really close to Walnut Grove in Minnesota. I would have loved to stop but I knew the 2 year old wouldn’t do so well with anything like that. Again…something to do when they are all older!

  3. Yeah, kids never are impressed with the same things that we are as adults! My daughter liked the bathroom at our hotel!! Ha! Beautiful pictures…I’ll have to return to South Dakota with my family sometime!

    • You guys would love it there then and it would be a much closer drive for you guys then it was for us! Plus your kids are old enough I’m sure they would REALLY appreciate it! All we saw was that goat and a few prairie dogs so I’m sure you would be fine!

  4. Great camera, and of course great post cards like photos. This trip will always be remembered by the entire family. Thanks Melissa for sharing. Continue to Be A Blessing because you’re Blessed. Mtetar

  5. Beautiful, beautiful snaps! I would very much love to adventure about the Badlands one day.

    You had my laughing out loud with Bency’s mountain. Too good!

    Love to have you back! x

  6. Funny, we have a Badlands too. It’s called Dinosaur Provincial Park and is located in Alberta. I would love to take Emma there! They have found actual dinosaur bones there and Emma absolutely loves everything about dinosaurs! That scenery of your Badlands is quite breathtaking!

  7. That is so funny that Bency liked the pile of dirt versus all of the other beautiful places. I remember going on trips with my parents and being the same way and now I am the one that loves it while my kids are like, yeah, that’s great, keep going. Payback, maybe? 🙂 That flowering cactus was so pretty! I never seen anything like that!

  8. Some great shots. I have gone through some of these parts of the country as well. Just amazing.
    I wonder how my children would react on such a trip. I think they would enjoy the getting out of the car part but quickly get tired/bored with looking out the window and oohing.

    • Thank you Liz! The kids are currently making up little booklets about their trip using the pictures from pamphlets that we got from rest stops and such. So far there has been no mention of the Badlands but yes, you are right they won’t forget this. I think they will just remember it a little differently than I did!

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