Badlands National Park

Perhaps the best destination in South Dakota, this less known national park surprised us with landscapes and night sky. The landscape itself looks like a mix of Bryce canyon (in white color) and vermilion cliffs but at a much larger scale and more rugged/jagged. There is a stark beauty to this place which is hard to describe. We arrived one evening and stayed overnight at the beautiful Cedar Pass Lodge. The Cabins are rustic from outsider but are well stocked with all the amenities. See Cedar pass Lodge
for details.

There was a huge thunderstorm on the way and it was densely clouded in the park. We then had dinner and when we stepped out for the ranger program at 9.30PM, viola! the clouds had disappeared and there we stood watching in awe the majestic milky way! The ranger led program had telescopes and we watched Jupiter and its 4 main moons. We also spotted multiple constellations like Scorpio, Leo etc and stars like Vega, Altair, Deneb (forming summer triangle) , North Star, Antares, Arcturus (brightest star in northern celestial hemisphere) etc. After the program we stayed back and enjoyed the night sky in solitude and also got some amazing night shots on our camera. Refer to our Stargazing page on our blog for ideas and details. A simplified guide to stargazing!
We were back in cabin by 11PM and within half an hour there was another thunderstorm with hail and rain! we felt really lucky to have got such views of night sky just in time.

Next full day was spent exploring the park. There are 2 sections. Loop road and the road to Big bad lands overlook. we covered both. We also explored Doors and windows trail to get close to these rugged castle like structures. It was quite hot outside so we din't embark on any long trails.

Yellow mounds area was super colorful!

We saw prairie dogs and the owls( which were trying to hunt them). We left the park around 4PM and were back in Rapid City for dinner. Overall, a day is the minimum needed to see this beautiful landscape. Also stay overnight to get the stunning night sky views.

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Sonja

[2016-07-15 10:25:13]

Kudos ! Unbelievable Night sky ! amazing.