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September 6 — Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park Welcome Sign

I started driving east, and in about twenty minutes I passed the spot where I camped that morning, which took me half a day to hike. As much of a pest as they can be, cars and interstates are amazing compared to the alternative. On foot you get a much better, more immersive view though.

I had a buffet at Golden Corral, and stuffed myself beyond reason, consuming more calories at that meal than some small countries do in a year. Desserts put me over the top though, where I even felt sick later in the day from gorging myself. Gluttony apparently can cause issues.

With nutrition back in my body I headed further east towards Badlands National Park. I bypassed the mecca of crap at Wall Drug, and took the loop in the national park instead. I felt like such a tourist, driving from lookout point to lookout point and walking the hundred feet to take in the view and grab some pictures. After two weeks mountain biking, trail running, backpacking, and avoiding most touristy spots in the Black Hills though, I could live with myself. Plus, Badlands National Park was not very conducive to exploring it in other ways.

Badlands’s rock formations

The view of the rock formations was neat, with layering and odd shapes throughout. I had been through here as a child, but besides the landscapes, I only remembered the heat and not wanting to leave the air conditioned van to even look at the vistas. On this evening though, I was actually cold. A mild evening combined with the strong Dakota winds chilled me.

With my fourth national park knocked out on this trip, I kept driving east, heading back towards home, and work which would greet me in about 36 hours.