2020 Montana Road Trip: Day 11 – Badlands National Park

Day 11 of the road trip . We say farewell to one of our party members. We delivered Adam to the Rapid City Airport, but not before we stopped at the Homestake Mine in Lead, SD. We learned about it from Juliana at Devil’s Tower. It was at the time the largest and deepest gold mine in North America, reaching 8000 feet deep.

These days it’s used by Sanford Labs to do research on dark matter and neutrinos. HOW COOL IS THAT?! While we did not get to see the 8000 foot mine, we did stop by the visitor center that was situated near the Open Cut that measures 1200 foot deep.

After learning a lot, we rushed to the airport so that Adam could make his flight. We said our farewells and stopped by Mount Rushmore. Ben had never been there before and I think everyone should stop by face mountain if they are a resident of the United States.

Face Mountain

It’s nothing too flashy, but it’s definitely a cool accomplishment. You can definitely see it from the road though, so I don’t think anyone REALLY needs to spend $10 to see it up close. But there’s a few trails there that we went on in 2017 that were nice. Again, if you don’t need a close-up of the mountain, driving by it will get you a good enough view.

Anyways, afterwards we moved on to Badlands. It’s one of my favorite national parks. Having been here in 2017, I knew all the good scenic spots to stop off at and take pictures. Ben, still recovering from our backpacking adventures and the blisters on his feet, had a step limit so we didn’t do too much walking/hiking around. We also didn’t get to the visitor center before it closed, so we’ll have to come back and hit up this area again for our collectible token and a more thorough exploration of the park. Backpacking 2022?

All-in-all it’s a gorgeous park, but the wildfire smoke managed to make its way all the way to western South Dakota. It was definitely noticeable to me, as I had been here back in 2017. Usually the setting sun casts its light onto the striated landscape and everything just looks beautiful. But the sun was unable to penetrate the smoke.

We were discussing where to camp, as we had originally planned on boondocking, but since Ben wasn’t really able to walk around too much I suggested we just scrap any extra daytime touring of the Badlands and do what we did when we left for the road trip; take a short nap and then leave at 2 AM to Omaha. We did that, except we slept until 4 AM and I started our six and a half hour drive to Nebraska.


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