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The Badlands, South Dakota

Adventure continues in the Mid-West

Our adventure continues as we are travelling the north of the United States from east to west.In our initial itinerary, we weren't sure whether to stop in the Badlands of South Dakota before heading for Mount Rushmore to see the presidential memorial. This would have been a big mistake, as the Badlands are probably the highlight of our trip in the American Midwest. The Mount Rushmore memorial is incredible to see because it's a phenomenon of engineering and art (and politics!) that bears the hand of man (and we'll come back to that) but the Badlands are a natural legacy shaped by thousands of years of geological and water phenomena.

What's more, a chance chat with a camping neighbor in Indiana revealed that you could "boondock" for free on the cliffs of the "wall" overlooking the Badlands. The timing was perfect, as we had a few unplanned days before arriving at Mount Rushmore.

But travelling from Wisconsin to South Dakota required almost 12 hours of driving (about 800 miles), which was a lot of pavement with short stops in Iowa and Minnesota. We're sometimes asked if we're really doing well at this stage of the trip or just pretending (i.e. to express our feelings beyond the appearances delivered by our blogs!). I can assure you that yes, morale and family spirits are high 😊

Nevertheless, this three-day sequence was hard on all of us. Gathering up the miles is one thing, but it also means stopping off at "ordinary" campsites, doing our daily chores, i.e., cleaning, washing (not easy to find a laundry), grocery shopping, emptying waste water, repairs of all kinds (the bike rack broke...). In our "Caravan Guard", everything takes longer to carry out, because you have to find the equipment, move it, replace it, change it and renew the stock on a continual basis and in small quantities.

For example, boondocking requires tight management of electricity, water and wastewater supplies, planning when to use propane rather than the inverter power, and strategically planning to "replenish" the electricy reserves of the lithium batteries with the propane-powered generator. Cooking isn't easy in a motorhome, especially on a rainy day.

But back to the Badlands. Here we were, on the "Wall" encircling the majestic Badlands. The view was so breathtaking that we did a few “zooms” with the family to share it with them. Here's a small sample:

The place in question is called the Badlands Boondock Campspot, and for several dozen miles you can park your RV for the night or for many nights. You need to be self-sufficient and have stocked up on provisions, because there's nothing here - zero stores or gas stations. The site is just a few miles from the entrance to the national park and the town of Wall. Our impression of this town is that it is a gigantic tourist trap so decided not to visit it. In this way, the contrast between our site and the national park with the town of Wall was really striking.

The sunset that evening was magnificent, as was the sunrise at 5:35. The images were breathtaking and larger than life.

On the next day, we entered the national park (after doing the laundry...) and again, you can only realize the immensity of the Bandlands when you're there. We drove along Route 244 right through the heart of the park, stopping at places with amazing views. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of volcanic sediments accumulated as far as the eye can see.

The Badlands also offered our first real change of scenery. Sure, the plains of the Midwest contrasted with the mountains of New York's Catskills or Indiana's Dunes, but the Badlands made us realize that we are fully committed to our journey and looking for a profound change of scenery. We were more than served on this front!

We leave you with a photo of some impromptu visitors who paid us a visit while we were camping on the "wall" of the Badlands : a nice herd of free-roaming cows who seemed to know the area very well as they kept a good distance from the cliff...which wasn't always the case for our two silly kids who had to be told repeatedly that falling 300 meters can put an abrupt end to a trip!

We'll talk to you soon about our visit to Rushmore.

N.B. We're really impressed by the beaty of South Dakota, and surprised to learn that it has the lowest cost of living in the United States. Residents don't pay income tax (like eight other similar states) and that may help! Imagine that! We are not so lucky in Quebec 😉

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